In January 1944 she joined Fast Carrier Striking Force 58, Rear Admiral Mare Mitscher in command, at Funafuti, Elliee Islands.
During the assault and capture of the Marshall Islands, North Carolina illustrated the classic battleship functions of World War II. She screened carriers from air attack in pre-invasion strikes as well as during close air support of troops ashore, beginning with the initial strikes on Kwajalein 29 January. She fired on targets at Namur and Roi, where she sank a cargo ship in the lagoon. The battlewagon then protected carriers in the massive air strike on Truk, the Japanese fleet base in the Carolines, where 39 large ships were left sunk, burning, or uselessly beached, and 211 planes were destroyed, another 104 severely damaged. Next she fought off an air attack near the Marianas 21 February, splashing an enemy plane, and the next day again guarded the carriers in air strikes on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. During much of this period she was flagship for Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Willis A. Lee, Jr., Commander Battleships Pacific.
With Majuro as her base, North Carolina joined in the attacks on Palau and Woleai 31 March—1 April, shooting down another enemy plane during the approach phase. On Wolesi, 150 enemy aircraft were destroyed along with ground installations. Support for the capture of the IIollandia area of New Guinea followed (13-24 April), then another major raid on Truk (29 30 April), during which North Carolina splashed yet another enemy aircraft. At Truk, North Carolina's planes were catapulted to rescue an American aviator downed off the reef. After one plane had turned over on landing and the other, having rescued all the airmen, had been unable to take off with so much weight, Tang (SS 306) saved all involved. The next day North Carolina destroyed coast defense guns, antiaircraft batteries, and airfields at Ponape. The battleship then sailed to repair her rudder at Pearl Harbor.
Returning to Majuro, North Carolina sortied with the Enterprise group 6 June for the Marianas. During the assault on Saipan, North Carolina not only gave her usual protection to the carriers, but starred in bombardments on the west coast of Saipan covering minesweeping operations, and blasted the harbor at Tanapag, sinking several small craft and destroying enemy ammunition, fuel, and supply dumps. At dusk on invasion day, 15 June, the battleship downed one of the only two Japanese aircraft able to penetrate the combat air patrol.
On 18 June, North Carolina cleared the islands with the carriers to confront the Japanese 1st Mobile Fleet, tracked by submarines and aircraft for the previous four days. Next day began the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and she took station in the battle line that fanned out from the carriers. American aircraft succeeded in downing most of the Japanese raiders before they reached the American ships, and North Carolina shot down two of the few which got through.
On that day and the next American air and submarine attacks, with the fierce antiaircraft fire of such ships as North Carolina, virtually ended any future threat from Japanese naval aviation: three carriers were sunk, two tankers damaged so badly they were scuttled, and all but 35 of the 430 planes with which the Japanese had begun the battle were destroyed. The 1099 of trained aviators was irreparable, as was the loss of skilled aviation maintenance men in the carriers. Not one American ship was lost, and only a handful of American planes failed to return to their carriers.
After supporting air operations in the Marianas for another two weeks, North Carolina sailed for overhaul at Puget Sound Navy Yard. She rejoined the carriers off Ulithi 7 November as a furious typhoon struck the group. The ships fought through the storm, and carried out air strikes against western Leyte, Luzon, and the Visayas to support the struggle for Leyte. During similar strike later in the month, North Carolina fought off her first kamikaze attack.
As the pace of operations in the Philippines intensified, North Carolina guarded carriers while their planes kept the Japanese aircraft on Luzon airfields from interferring with the invasion convoys which assaulted Mindoro, 15 December. Three days later the task force again sailed through a violent typhoon, which capsized several destroyers.