AMERICAN Hydrant Guards WWII Battleship Memorial

In 1958, North Carolina residents launched a statewide campaign to save what was at one time considered “the world’s greatest sea weapon” from the New Jersey scrap yards. Battleship North Carolina participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific during World War II, earning 15 battle stars. The campaign to save it was successful and in 1961, the Battleship was brought home to Wilmington, N.C., where she was dedicated as the state’s memorial to its WWII veterans and the 10,000 North Carolinians who died during the war.

That same year, Darling Pump and Manufacturing Company installed a Darling B-50-B hydrant in the parking lot of the new memorial, about 20 feet from the ship’s entrance. This was about eight years before AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company acquired Darling’s waterworks product line. For more than 50 years, the hydrant protected visitors and employees who came aboard the ship for tours, re-enactments, weddings, concerts, reunions and various other events. In early December 2012, however, the hydrant was damaged during routine grounds maintenance.

Representatives of the battleship sought input from AMERICAN Flow Control, and AMERICAN’s North Carolina Territory Manager Terry Freck went to analyze the hydrant. Freck discovered the hydrant would need to be replaced. 

“We are so appreciative of the support we received from AMERICAN. This hydrant is a critical part of our system and will allow us to fight fires when necessary.”
Chris Vargo

The new hydrant, an American-Darling B-84-B, was manufactured by AMERICAN Valve and Hydrant (AVH) in Beaumont, Texas, and shipped to Ferguson Waterworks in Charlotte, N.C. Freck picked it up from there and delivered it to the site himself. Local contractor Kenneth Smith, a longtime customer of AMERICAN, installed the new hydrant on Jan. 15.

The American-Darling B-84-B hydrant with conversion base, AMERICAN’s most current hydrant model, was installed onto the existing B-50-B hydrant base. The new hydrant’s conversion base allowed easy installation onto the original base of the much older B-50-B hydrant without disturbing the main water line. Using nothing but shovels and manpower, Smith’s crew dug down 3 feet into the soil to expose the base, or “shoe,” of the hydrant. They removed the existing B-50-B hydrant and installed the new B-84-B hydrant with conversion base before filling the soil back in. Not only does the conversion hydrant save time during replacement and provide a modern update, but it also helps reduce installation costs.

According to Battleship Memorial Assistant Director Chris Vargo, the memorial annually sees more than 200,000 visitors for just tours alone. “We are so appreciative of the support we received from AMERICAN,” Vargo said. “This hydrant is a critical part of our system and will allow us to fight fires when necessary.”