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Visible across the Cape Fear River from the waterfront in downtown Wilmington NC is the USS Battleship North Carolina. In 1906 the British Admiralty commissioned a totally new design, the dreadnought, which became the prototype for subsequent battleships built by other nations, including the United States. Historically, and until most recently, the most capable class of major combatants, or capital ships, in the U.S. Navy were named for States in the Union.  While the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is a very visible and powerful example of a capital ship, her lineage is equally impressive. The first ship to bear the name NORTH CAROLINA was a ship-of-the-line in the 1820s. This one is the BB 55, a World War II battleship and now a floating WWII war memorial.