USS Missouri (BB-63)
USS Missouri at sea in her 1980s configuration
|Namesake:||State of Missouri|
|Ordered:||12 June 1940|
|Builder:||Brooklyn Navy Yard|
|Laid down:||6 January 1941|
|Launched:||29 January 1944|
|Sponsored by:||Margaret Truman|
|Commissioned:||11 June 1944|
|Decommissioned:||26 February 1955|
|Recommissioned:||10 May 1986|
|Decommissioned:||31 March 1992|
|Stricken:||12 January 1995|
|Motto:||"Strength for Freedom"|
|Status:||Museum ship in Pearl Harbor|
|General characteristics (1943)|
|Class and type:||Iowa-class battleship|
|Length:||887 feet 3 inches (270.4 m) loa|
|Beam:||108 ft 2 in (33 m)|
|Draft:||36 ft 2.25 in (11 m)|
|Speed:||32.5 knots (37.4 mph; 60.2 km/h)|
|Range:||15,000 nmi (28,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)|
|General characteristics (1984)|
|Complement:||1,851 officers and enlisted|
|Sensors and |
|Electronic warfare |
USS Missouri (BB-63)
|Location||Pearl Harbor, Hawaii|
|Architect||New York Naval Shipyard|
|NRHP reference No.||71000877|
|Added to NRHP||14 May 1971|
USS Missouri (BB-63) is an Iowa-class battleship and was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named after the U.S. state of Missouri. Missouri was the last battleship commissioned by the United States and is best remembered as the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan, which ended World War II.
Missouri was ordered in 1940 and commissioned in June 1944. In the Pacific Theater of World War II, she fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and shelled the Japanese home islands, and she later fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. She was decommissioned in 1955 into the United States Navy reserve fleets (the "Mothball Fleet"), but reactivated and modernized in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy plan, and provided fire support during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Missouri received a total of 11 battle stars for service in World War II, Korea, and the Persian Gulf, and was finally decommissioned in 1992 after serving a total of 17 years of active service, but remained on the Naval Vessel Register until her name was struck in 1995. In 1998, she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor.
The Iowa class of fast battleships was designed in the late 1930s in response to the US Navy's expectations for a future war with the Empire of Japan. American officers preferred comparatively slow but heavily armed and armored battleships, but Navy planners determined that such a fleet would have difficulty in bringing the faster Japanese fleet to battle, particularly the Kongō-class battlecruisers and the aircraft carriers of the 1st Air Fleet. Design studies prepared during the development of the earlier North Carolina and South Dakota classes demonstrated the difficulty in resolving the desires of fleet officers with those of the planning staff in the displacement limits imposed by the Washington Naval Treaty system, which had governed capital ship construction since 1923. An escalator clause in the Second London Naval Treaty of 1936 allowed an increase from 35,000 long tons (36,000 t) to 45,000 long tons (46,000 t) in the event that any member nation refused to sign the treaty, which Japan refused to do. The last battleships to be built by the United States, they were also the US Navy's largest and fastest vessels of the type.
Missouri was 887 feet 3 inches (270.4 m) long overall and had a beam of 108 ft 2 in (33 m) and a draft of 36 ft 2.25 in (11 m). Her standard displacement amounted to 48,110 long tons (48,880 t) and increased to 57,540 long tons (58,460 t) at full combat load. The ship was powered by four General Electric steam turbines, each driving one screw propeller, using steam provided by eight oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers. Rated at 212,000 shaft horsepower (158,000 kW), the turbines were intended to give a top speed of 32.5 knots (60.2 km/h; 37.4 mph). The ship had a cruising range of 15,000 nautical miles (28,000 km; 17,000 mi) at a speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). Her crew numbered 117 officers and 1,804 enlisted men.
The ship was armed with a main battery of nine 16 in (406 mm) /50 caliber Mark 7 guns[a] in three triple-gun turrets on the centerline, two of which were placed in a superfiring pair forward, with the third aft. The secondary battery consisted of twenty 5 in (127 mm) /38 caliber dual purpose guns mounted in twin turrets clustered amidships, five turrets on either side. As designed, the ship was equipped with an anti-aircraft battery of eighty 40 mm (1.6 in) guns and forty-nine 20 mm (0.79 in) auto-cannon.
The main armor belt was 12.1 in (307 mm) thick, while the main armor deck was 6 in (152 mm) thick. The main battery gun turrets had 19.7 in (500 mm) thick faces, and they were mounted atop barbettes that were protected with 11.3 in (290 mm) of steel. The conning tower had 17.5 in (444 mm) thick sides. Beginning with Missouri, the frontal bulkhead armor was increased from the original 11.3 in (287 mm) to 14.5 in (368 mm) in order to better protect against fire from frontal sectors.
The keel for Missouri was laid down at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 6 January 1941 on slipway 1, under the direction of Rear Admiral Clark H. Woodward The ship was launched on 29 January 1944 before a crowd of 20,000 to 30,000 spectators. At the launching ceremony, the ship was christened by Margaret Truman, the daughter of Harry S. Truman, then one of the senators from the ship's namesake state; Truman himself gave a speech at the ceremony. Fitting-out work proceeded quickly, and the ship was commissioned on 11 June; Captain William Callaghan served as her first commander.
Missouri conducted her initial sea trials off New York, beginning on 10 July, and then steamed south to Chesapeake Bay, where she embarked on a shakedown cruise and conducted combat training. During this period, she operated with the new large cruiser Alaska, which had also recently entered service, and several escorting destroyers. The ship got underway on 11 November, bound for the West Coast of the United States. She passed through the Panama Canal on 18 November and continued on to San Francisco. There, additional fitting-out work was carried out to prepare the vessel for use as a fleet flagship.
World War II (1944–1945)
On 14 December, Missouri departed San Francisco and sailed for Ulithi in the Caroline Islands, where she joined the rest of the fleet on 13 January 1945. She became a temporary headquarters ship for Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher. She then joined the Fast Carrier Task Force, Task Force 58, which sortied on 27 January to launch an air attack on Tokyo in support of the planned operation against Iwo Jima. Missouri served as part of the anti-aircraft screen for Task Group 58.2, centered on the carriers Lexington, Hancock, and San Jacinto, during the raid on Tokyo. In addition to guarding the carriers, Missouri and the other battleships acted as oilers for the escorting destroyers, since the fleet's logistics train could not accompany the strike force during raids.
By 16 February, the task force had arrived off the coast of Japan to begin a series of air strikes. The fleet then proceeded to Iwo Jima, which was invaded by American ground forces on 19 February. That evening, while patrolling with the carriers, Missouri shot down a Japanese aircraft, probably a Nakajima Ki-49 bomber. Task Force 58 departed in early March and returned to Ulithi to replenish fuel and ammunition. Missouri was transferred to the Yorktown task group, TG 58.4 at that time.
The ships departed again on 14 March for another round of air strikes on Japan. Four days later, Missouri's anti-aircraft guns assisted in the destruction of four Japanese aircraft. American carrier aircraft struck a variety of targets around the Inland Sea, which prompted a Japanese counter-attack that struck several carriers. The carrier Franklin was badly damaged and Missouri's task group was detached to cover her withdrawal. By 22 March, Franklin had left the area of operations and Missouri's group returned to the fleet to join the preparatory bombardment for the upcoming invasion of Okinawa. Missouri was temporarily transferred to TF 59, along with her sister ships New Jersey and Wisconsin to bombard the southern coast of Okinawa on 24 March, part of an effort to draw Japanese attention from the actual invasion target on the western side of the island. American ground forces went ashore on 1 April. Missouri thereafter returned to TG 58.4.
While operating with the carriers on 11 April, Missouri came under attack from a kamikaze that struck the side of the vessel below the main deck. The impact shattered the aircraft, throwing gasoline on the deck that rapidly ignited, though Missouri's crew quickly suppressed it. The attack caused superficial damage and the ship remained on station. Six days later, Missouri detected a Japanese submarine about 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi) from the task group. The light aircraft carrier Bataan and four destroyers were detached, resulting in the sinking of the submarine I-56. Missouri left Task Force 58 on 5 May to return to Ulithi; in the course of her operations off Okinawa, she claimed five aircraft shot down and another probable kill, along with partial credit for another six aircraft destroyed. While en route, Missouri refueled from a fleet oiler that also brought the ship's new commander, Captain Stuart S. Murray, who came aboard and relieved Callaghan.
On 9 May, Missouri reached Ulithi, before continuing on to Apra Harbor, Guam, where she arrived nine days later. Admiral William F. Halsey Jr., the commander of Third Fleet, came aboard the ship that day, making her the fleet flagship of what was now re-designated as TF 38. On 21 May, Missouri got underway again, bound for Okinawa. She had reached the operational area by 27 May, when she took part in attacks on Japanese positions on the island. She and the rest of Third Fleet then steamed north to conduct a series of air strikes on Japanese airfields and other installations on the island of Kyūshū on 2 and 3 June. The fleet was struck by a major typhoon on the night of 5–6 June, which caused extensive damage to many ships of the fleet, though Missouri suffered only minor damage. Another round of air strikes against targets on Kyūshū took place on 8 June. The fleet then withdrew to Leyte Gulf to replenish fuel and ammunition, arriving there on 13 June.
Third Fleet got underway again on 1 July to launch another series of attacks on the Japanese Home Islands. During this period, Missouri operated with TG 38.4. The carrier aircraft struck targets around Tokyo on 10 July, and then further north between Honshū and Hokkaidō from 13 to 14 July. The following day, Missouri and several other vessels were detached to form TG 38.4.2 bombard industrial facilities in Muroran, Hokkaido. A second bombardment mission followed on the night of 17/18 July, by which time the British battleship HMS King George V had joined the formation. She then returned to cover the carriers during strikes against targets around the Inland Sea and then Tokyo later in the month. After a brief pause, the carriers resumed attacks on northern Japan on 9 August, the same day as the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The following day, rumors circulated that Japan would surrender, which was formally announced on the morning of 15 August. The next day, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser of the Royal Navy, the Commander of the British Pacific Fleet, came aboard Missouri to confer the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire on Halsey for his role in the war.
Signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender
Over the course of the following two weeks, Allied forces made preparations to begin the occupation of Japan. On 21 August, Missouri sent a contingent of 200 officers and men to her sister ship Iowa, which was to debark a landing party in Tokyo to begin the process of demilitarizing Japan. Two days later, Murray was informed that Missouri would host the surrender ceremony, with the date scheduled for 31 August. The ship's crew immediately began preparations for the event, including cleaning and painting the vessel. Missouri began the approach to Tokyo Bay on 27 August, guided by the Japanese destroyer Hatsuzakura. That night, the ships stopped at Kamakura, where a courier brought the flag that Commodore Matthew Perry had flown during his expedition to open Japan in 1853; the flag was to be displayed during the surrender ceremony. The flotilla then entered Tokyo Bay on 29 August, and Missouri was anchored close to where Perry had anchored his own vessels some ninety-two years earlier. Poor weather delayed the ceremony until 2 September.
High-ranking military officials of all the Allied Powers were received on board on 2 September, including Fraser, the Chinese general Hsu Yung-Ch'ang, Soviet lieutenant-general Kuzma Nikolaevich Derevyanko, Australian general Sir Thomas Blamey, Canadian colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave, French général d'armée Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, Dutch vice admiral Conrad Emil Lambert Helfrich, and New Zealand air vice marshal Leonard Isitt.
Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz boarded shortly after 0800, and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allies, came on board at 0843. The Japanese representatives, headed by Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, arrived at 0856. At 0902, General MacArthur stepped before a battery of microphones and opened the 23-minute surrender ceremony to the waiting world by stating, "It is my earnest hope—indeed the hope of all mankind—that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world founded upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance, and justice."
Another U.S. flag was raised and flown during the occasion, a flag that some sources have indicated was in fact that flag which had flown over the U.S. Capitol on 7 December 1941. This is not true; it was a flag taken from the ship's stock, according to Missouri's commanding officer, Captain Stuart "Sunshine" Murray, and it was "...just a plain ordinary GI-issue flag".
By 09:30 the Japanese emissaries had departed. In the afternoon of 5 September, Admiral Halsey transferred his flag to the battleship South Dakota, and early the next day Missouri departed Tokyo Bay. As part of the ongoing Operation Magic Carpet she received homeward bound passengers at Guam, then sailed unescorted for Hawaii. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 20 September and flew Admiral Nimitz's flag on the afternoon of 28 September for a reception.
The next day, Missouri departed Pearl Harbor bound for the eastern seaboard of the United States. She reached New York City on 23 October and hoisted the flag of Atlantic Fleet commander Admiral Jonas Ingram. Four days later, Missouri boomed out a 21-gun salute as President Truman boarded for Navy Day ceremonies.
After an overhaul in the New York Naval Shipyard and a training cruise to Cuba, Missouri returned to New York. During the afternoon of 21 March 1946, she received the remains of the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Münir Ertegun. She departed on 22 March for Gibraltar, and on 5 April anchored in the Bosphorus off Istanbul. She rendered full honors, including the firing of 19-gun salutes during the transfer of the remains of the late ambassador and again during the funeral ashore.
Missouri departed Istanbul on 9 April and entered Phaleron Bay, Piraeus, Greece, the following day for an overwhelming welcome by Greek government officials and anti-communist citizens. Greece had become the scene of a civil war between the communist World War II resistance movement and the returning Greek government-in-exile. The United States saw this as an important test case for its new doctrine of containment of the Soviet Union. The Soviets were also pushing for concessions in the Dodecanese to be included in the peace treaty with Italy and for access through the Dardanelles strait between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The voyage of Missouri to the eastern Mediterranean symbolized America's strategic commitment to the region. News media proclaimed her a symbol of U.S. interest in preserving both nations' independence.
Missouri departed Piraeus on 26 April, touching at Algiers and Tangiers before arriving at Norfolk on 9 May. She departed for Culebra Island on 12 May to join Admiral Mitscher's 8th Fleet in the Navy's first large-scale postwar Atlantic training maneuvers. The battleship returned to New York City on 27 May, and spent the next year steaming Atlantic coastal waters north to the Davis Strait and south to the Caribbean on various Atlantic command training exercises. On 13 December, during a target practice exercise in the North Atlantic, a star shell accidentally struck the battleship, but without causing injuries.
Missouri arrived at Rio de Janeiro on 30 August 1947 for the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Hemisphere Peace and Security. President Truman boarded on 2 September to celebrate the signing of the Rio Treaty, which broadened the Monroe Doctrine by stipulating that an attack on any one of the signatory American countries would be considered an attack on all.
The Truman family boarded Missouri on 7 September 1947 to return to the United States and disembarked at Norfolk on 19 September. Her overhaul in New York—which lasted from 23 September to 10 March 1948—was followed by refresher training at Guantanamo Bay. The summer of 1948 was devoted to midshipman and reserve training cruises. Also in 1948, Missouri became the first battleship to host a helicopter detachment, operating two Sikorsky HO3S-1 machines for utility and rescue work. The battleship departed Norfolk on 1 November 1948 for a second three-week Arctic cold-weather training cruise to the Davis Strait. During the next two years, Missouri participated in Atlantic command exercises from the New England coast to the Caribbean, alternated with two midshipman summer training cruises. She was overhauled at Norfolk Naval Shipyard from 23 September 1949 to 17 January 1950.
Throughout the latter half of the 1940s, the various service branches of the United States had been reducing their inventories from their World War II levels. For the Navy, this resulted in several vessels of various types being decommissioned and either sold for scrap or placed in one of the various United States Navy reserve fleets scattered along the East and West Coast of the United States. As part of this contraction, three of the Iowa-class battleships had been de-activated and decommissioned; however, President Truman refused to allow Missouri to be decommissioned. Against the advice of Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan, and Chief of Naval Operations Louis E. Denfeld, Truman ordered Missouri to be maintained with the active fleet partly because of his fondness for the battleship and partly because the battleship had been christened by his daughter Margaret Truman.
Then the only U.S. battleship in commission, Missouri was proceeding seaward on a training mission from Hampton Roads early on 17 January 1950 when she ran aground 1.6 mi (2.6 km) from Thimble Shoal Light, near Old Point Comfort. She hit shoal water a distance of three ship-lengths from the main channel. Lifted some 7 feet (2.1 m) above waterline, she stuck hard and fast. With the aid of tugboats, pontoons, and a rising tide, she was refloated on 1 February 1950 and repaired.
Korean War (1950–1953)
In 1950, the Korean War broke out, prompting the United States to intervene in the name of the United Nations. President Truman was caught off guard when the invasion struck, but quickly ordered U.S. forces stationed in Japan into South Korea. Truman also sent U.S.-based troops, tanks, fighter and bomber aircraft, and a strong naval force to Korea to support the Republic of Korea. As part of the naval mobilization Missouri was called up from the Atlantic Fleet and dispatched from Norfolk on 19 August to support UN forces on the Korean peninsula.
Missouri arrived just west of Kyūshū on 14 September, where she became the flagship of Rear Admiral Allan Edward Smith. The first American battleship to reach Korean waters, she bombarded Samchok on 15 September 1950 in an attempt to divert troops and attention from the Incheon landings. This was the first time since World War II that Missouri had fired her guns in anger, and in company with the cruiser Helena and two destroyers, she helped prepare the way for the U.S. Eighth Army offensive.
Missouri arrived at Incheon on 19 September, and on 10 October became flagship of Rear Admiral John M. Higgins, commander, Cruiser Division 5 (CruDiv 5). She arrived at Sasebo on 14 October, where she became flagship of Vice Admiral A. D. Struble, Commander, 7th Fleet. After screening the aircraft carrier Valley Forge along the east coast of Korea, she conducted bombardment missions from 12 to 26 October in the Chongjin and Tanchon areas, and at Wonsan where she again screened carriers eastward of Wonsan.
MacArthur's amphibious landings at Incheon had severed the North Korean Army's supply lines; as a result, North Korea's army had begun a lengthy retreat from South Korea into North Korea. This retreat was closely monitored by the People's Republic of China (PRC), out of fear that the UN offensive against Korea would create a US-backed enemy on China's border, and out of concern that the UN offensive in Korea could evolve into a UN war against China. The latter of these two threats had already manifested itself during the Korea War: U.S. F-86 Sabres on patrol in "MiG Alley" frequently crossed into China while pursuing Communist MiGs operating out of Chinese airbases.
Moreover, there was talk among the U.N. commanders—notably MacArthur—about a potential campaign against the People's Republic of China. In an effort to dissuade UN forces from completely overrunning North Korea, the People's Republic of China issued diplomatic warnings that they would use force to protect North Korea, but these warnings were not taken seriously for a number of reasons, among them the fact that China lacked air cover to conduct such an attack. This changed abruptly on 19 October 1950, when the first of an eventual total of 380,000 People's Liberation Army soldiers under the command of General Peng Dehuai crossed into North Korea, launching a full-scale assault against advancing U.N. troops. The PRC offensive caught the UN completely by surprise; UN forces realized they would have to fall back, and quickly executed an emergency retreat. UN assets were shuffled in order to cover this retreat, and as part of the force tasked with covering the UN retreat Missouri was moved into Hungnam on 23 December to provide gunfire support about the Hungnam defense perimeter until the last UN troops, the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, were evacuated by way of the sea on 24 December 1950.
Missouri conducted additional operations with carriers and shore bombardments off the east coast of Korea until 19 March 1951. She arrived at Yokosuka on 24 March, and 4 days later was relieved of duty in the Far East. She departed Yokosuka on 28 March, and upon arrival at Norfolk on 27 April became the flagship of Rear Admiral James L. Holloway, Jr., commander, Cruiser Force, Atlantic Fleet. During the summer of 1951, she engaged in two midshipman training cruises to northern Europe. Under the command of Captain John Sylvester, Missouri entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard 18 October 1951 for an overhaul, which lasted until 30 January 1952.
Following winter and spring training out of Guantanamo Bay, Missouri visited New York, then set course from Norfolk on 9 June 1952 for another midshipman cruise. She returned to Norfolk on 4 August and entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard to prepare for a second tour in the Korean combat zone.
Missouri stood out of Hampton Roads on 11 September 1952 and arrived at Yokosuka on 17 October. Vice Admiral Joseph J. Clark, commander of the 7th Fleet, brought his staff onboard on 19 October. Her primary mission was to provide seagoing artillery support by bombarding enemy targets in the Chaho-Tanchon area, at Chongjin, in the Tanchon-Sonjin area, and at Chaho, Wonsan, Hamhung, and Hungnam during the period 25 October through 2 January 1953.
Missouri put into Incheon on 5 January 1953 and sailed thence to Sasebo, Japan. General Mark W. Clark, Commander in Chief, U.N. Command, and Admiral Sir Guy Russell, Royal Navy Commander-in-Chief, Far East Fleet, visited the battleship on 23 January. In the following weeks, Missouri resumed "Cobra" patrol along the east coast of Korea to support troops ashore. Repeated bombardment of Wonsan, Tanehon, Hungnam, and Kojo destroyed main supply routes along the eastern seaboard of Korea.
The last bombardment mission by Missouri was against the Kojo area on 25 March. On 26 March, her commanding officer—Captain Warner R. Edsall—suffered a fatal heart attack while conning her through the submarine net at Sasebo. She was relieved as the 7th Fleet flagship on 6 April by her older sister New Jersey.
Missouri departed Yokosuka on 7 April and arrived at Norfolk on 4 May to become flagship for Rear Admiral E. T. Woolridge, commander, Battleships-Cruisers, Atlantic Fleet, on 14 May. She departed on 8 June on a midshipman training cruise, returned to Norfolk on 4 August, and was overhauled in Norfolk Naval Shipyard from 20 November 1953 to 2 April 1954. As the flagship of Rear Admiral R. E. Kirby, who had relieved Admiral Woolridge, Missouri departed Norfolk on 7 June as flagship of the midshipman training cruise to Lisbon and Cherbourg. During this voyage Missouri was joined by the other three battleships of her class, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Iowa, the only time the four ships sailed together. She returned to Norfolk on 3 August and departed on 23 August for inactivation on the West Coast. After calls at Long Beach and San Francisco, Missouri arrived in Seattle on 15 September. Three days later she entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where she was decommissioned on 26 February 1955, entering the Bremerton group, Pacific Reserve Fleet.
Upon arrival in Bremerton, west of Seattle, Missouri was moored at the last pier of the reserve fleet berthing. She served as a popular tourist attraction, logging about 250,000 visitors per year, who came to view the "surrender deck" where a bronze plaque memorialized the spot ( ) in Tokyo Bay where Japan surrendered to the Allies, and the accompanying historical display that included copies of the surrender documents and photos. A small cottage industry grew in the civilian community just outside the gates, selling souvenirs and other memorabilia. Nearly thirty years passed before Missouri returned to active duty.
Under the Reagan Administration's program to build a 600-ship Navy, led by Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman, Missouri was reactivated and towed by the salvage ship Beaufort to the Long Beach Naval Yard in the summer of 1984 to undergo modernization in advance of her scheduled recommissioning. In preparation for the move, a skeleton crew of 20 spent three weeks working 12- to 16-hour days preparing the battleship for her tow. During the modernization Missouri had her obsolete armament removed: 20 mm and 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, and four of her ten 5-inch (127 mm) gun mounts.
Over the next several months, the ship was upgraded with the most advanced weaponry available; among the new weapons systems installed were four Mk 141 quad cell launchers for 16 RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, eight Mk 143 Armored Box Launcher mounts for 32 BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, and a quartet of Phalanx Close In Weapon System rotary cannon for defense against enemy anti-ship missiles and enemy aircraft. Also included in her modernization were upgrades to radar and fire control systems for her guns and missiles, and improved electronic warfare capabilities. During the modernization Missouri's 800 lb (360 kg) bell, which had been removed from the battleship and sent to Jefferson City, Missouri for sesquicentennial celebrations in the state, was formally returned to the battleship in advance of her recommissioning. Missouri was formally recommissioned in San Francisco on 10 May 1986. "This is a day to celebrate the rebirth of American sea power," Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger told an audience of 10,000 at the recommissioning ceremony, instructing the crew to "listen for the footsteps of those who have gone before you. They speak to you of honor and the importance of duty. They remind you of your own traditions." Also present at the recommissioning ceremony was Missouri governor John Ashcroft, U.S. Senator Pete Wilson, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, and San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein. Margaret Truman gave a short speech especially aimed at the ship's crew, which ended with "now take care of my baby." Her remarks were met with rounds of applause from the crew.
Four months later Missouri departed from her new home port of Long Beach for an around-the-world cruise, visiting Pearl Harbor Hawaii; Sydney, Hobart, and Perth, Australia; Diego Garcia; the Suez Canal; Istanbul, Turkey; Naples, Italy; Rota, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; and the Panama Canal. Missouri became the first American battleship to circumnavigate the globe since Theodore Roosevelt's "Great White Fleet" 80 years before—a fleet which included the first battleship named USS Missouri (BB-11).
In 1987, Missouri was outfitted with 40 mm grenade launchers and 25 mm chain guns and sent to take part in Operation Earnest Will, the escorting of reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. These smaller-caliber weapons were installed due to the threat of Iranian-manned, Swedish-made Boghammar cigarette boats operating in the Persian Gulf at the time. On 25 July, the ship departed on a six-month deployment to the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea. She spent more than 100 continuous days at sea in a hot, tense environment. As the centerpiece for Battlegroup Echo, Missouri escorted tanker convoys through the Strait of Hormuz, keeping her fire control system trained on land-based Iranian Silkworm missile launchers.
Missouri returned to the United States via Diego Garcia, Australia, and Hawaii in early 1988. Several months later, Missouri's crew again headed for Hawaiian waters for the Rim of the Pacific (RimPac) exercises, which involved more than 50,000 troops and ships from the navies of Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United States. Port visits in 1988 included Vancouver and Victoria in Canada, San Diego, Seattle, and Bremerton.
In the early months of 1989, Missouri was in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for routine maintenance. On 1 July 1989, while berthed at Pier D, the music video for Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" was filmed aboard Missouri and featured the ship's crew. A few months later she departed for Pacific Exercise (PacEx) '89, where she and New Jersey performed a simultaneous gunfire demonstration for the aircraft carriers Enterprise and Nimitz. The highlight of PacEx was a port visit in Pusan, Republic of Korea. In 1990, Missouri again took part in the RimPac Exercise with ships from Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, and the U.S.
Gulf War (January–February 1991)
On 2 August 1990 Iraq, led by President Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait. In the middle of the month U.S. President George H. W. Bush, in keeping with the Carter Doctrine, sent the first of several hundred thousand troops, along with a strong force of naval support, to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf area to support a multinational force in a standoff with Iraq.
Missouri's scheduled four-month Western Pacific port-to-port cruise set to begin in September was canceled just a few days before the ship was to leave. She had been placed on hold in anticipation of being mobilized as forces continued to mass in the Middle East. Missouri departed on 13 November 1990 for the troubled waters of the Persian Gulf. She departed from Pier 6 at Long Beach, with extensive press coverage, and headed for Hawaii and the Philippines for more work-ups en route to the Persian Gulf. Along the way she made stops at Subic Bay and Pattaya Beach, Thailand, before transiting the Strait of Hormuz on 3 January 1991. During subsequent operations leading up to Operation Desert Storm, Missouri prepared to launch Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) and provide naval gunfire support as required.
Missouri fired her first Tomahawk missile at Iraqi targets at 01:40 am on 17 January 1991, followed by 27 additional missiles over the next five days.
On 29 January, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate Curts led Missouri northward, using advanced mine-avoidance sonar. In her first naval gunfire support action of Desert Storm she shelled an Iraqi command and control bunker near the Saudi border, the first time her 16 in (406 mm) guns had been fired in combat since March 1953 off Korea. The battleship bombarded Iraqi beach defenses in occupied Kuwait on the night of 3 February, firing 112 16 in (406 mm) rounds over the next three days until relieved by Wisconsin. Missouri then fired another 60 rounds off Khafji on 11–12 February before steaming north to Faylaka Island. After minesweepers cleared a lane through Iraqi defenses, Missouri fired 133 rounds during four shore bombardment missions as part of the amphibious landing feint against the Kuwaiti shore line the morning of 23 February. The heavy pounding attracted Iraqi attention; in response to the battleship's artillery strike, the Iraqis fired two HY-2 Silkworm missiles at the battleship, one of which missed. The other missile was intercepted by a GWS-30 Sea Dart missile launched from the British air defence destroyer HMS Gloucester within 90 seconds and crashed into the sea roughly 700 yd (640 m) in front of Missouri.
During the campaign, Missouri was involved in a friendly fire incident with the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate Jarrett. According to the official report, on 25 February, Jarrett's Phalanx CIWS engaged the chaff fired by Missouri as a countermeasure against enemy missiles, and stray rounds from the firing struck Missouri, one penetrating through a bulkhead and becoming embedded in an interior passageway of the ship. Another round struck the ship on the forward funnel, passing completely through it. One sailor aboard Missouri was struck in the neck by flying shrapnel and suffered minor injuries. Those familiar with the incident are skeptical of this account, however, as Jarrett was reportedly over 2 mi (3.2 km) away at the time and the characteristics of chaff are such that a Phalanx would not normally regard it as a threat and engage it. There is no dispute that the rounds that struck Missouri did come from Jarrett, and that it was an accident. There was suspicion that a Phalanx operator on Jarrett may have accidentally fired off a few rounds manually, but there is no evidence supporting this theory.
With combat operations out of range of the battleship's weapons on 26 February, Missouri had fired a total 783 rounds of 16 in (406 mm) shells and launched 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles during the campaign, and commenced to conduct patrol and armistice enforcement operations in the northern Persian Gulf until sailing for home on 21 March. Following stops at Fremantle and Hobart, Australia, the warship visited Pearl Harbor before arriving home in April. She spent the remainder of the year conducting type training and other local operations, the latter including 7 December "voyage of remembrance" to mark the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. During that ceremony, Missouri hosted President Bush, the first such presidential visit for the warship since Harry S. Truman's in September 1947.
Museum ship (1998 to present)
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and the absence of a perceived threat to the United States came drastic cuts in the defense budget, and the high cost of maintaining and operating battleships as part of the United States Navy's active fleet became uneconomical; as a result, Missouri was decommissioned on 31 March 1992 at Long Beach after 16 total years of active service. Her last commanding officer, Captain Albert L. Kaiss, wrote in the ship's final Plan of the Day:
Our final day has arrived. Today the final chapter in battleship Missouri's history will be written. It's often said that the crew makes the command. There is no truer statement ... for it's the crew of this great ship that made this a great command. You are a special breed of sailors and Marines and I am proud to have served with each and every one of you. To you who have made the painful journey of putting this great lady to sleep, I thank you. For you have had the toughest job. To put away a ship that has become as much a part of you as you are to her is a sad ending to a great tour. But take solace in this—you have lived up to the history of the ship and those who sailed her before us. We took her to war, performed magnificently and added another chapter in her history, standing side by side our forerunners in true naval tradition. God bless you all.— Captain Albert L. Kaiss
Missouri returned to be part of the United States Navy reserve fleet at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, until 12 January 1995, when she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. She remained in Bremerton, but was not open to tourists as she had been from 1957 to 1984. In spite of attempts by citizens' groups to keep her in Bremerton and be re-opened as a tourist site, the U.S. Navy wanted to pair a symbol of the end of World War II with one representing (for the United States) its beginning. On 4 May 1998, Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton signed the donation contract that transferred her to the nonprofit USS Missouri Memorial Association (MMA) of Honolulu, Hawaii. She was towed from Bremerton on 23 May to Astoria, Oregon, where she sat in fresh water at the mouth of the Columbia River to kill and drop the saltwater barnacles and sea grasses that had grown on her hull in Bremerton, then towed across the eastern Pacific, and docked at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor on 22 June, just 500 yd (460 m) from the Arizona Memorial. Less than a year later, on 29 January 1999, Missouri was opened as a museum operated by the MMA.
Originally, the decision to move Missouri to Pearl Harbor was met with some resistance. The National Park Service expressed concern that the battleship, whose name has become synonymous with the end of World War II, would overshadow the battleship Arizona, whose dramatic explosion and subsequent sinking on 7 December 1941 has since become synonymous with the attack on Pearl Harbor. To help guard against this impression Missouri was placed well back from and facing the Arizona Memorial, so that those participating in military ceremonies on Missouri's aft decks would not have sight of the Arizona Memorial. The decision to have Missouri's bow face the Arizona Memorial was intended to convey that Missouri watches over the remains of Arizona so that those interred within Arizona's hull may rest in peace.
A gun from Missouri is paired with a gun formerly on Arizona at the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza just east of the Arizona State Capitol complex in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. It is part of a memorial representing the start and end of the Pacific War for the United States.
Missouri was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on 14 May 1971 for hosting the signing of the instrument of Japanese surrender that ended World War II. She is not eligible for designation as a National Historic Landmark because she was extensively modernized in the years following the surrender.
On 14 October 2009, Missouri was moved from her berthing station on Battleship Row to a drydock at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to undergo a three-month overhaul. The work, priced at $18 million, included installing a new anti-corrosion system, repainting the hull, and upgrading the internal mechanisms. Drydock workers reported that the ship was leaking at some points on the starboard side. The repairs were completed the first week of January 2010 and the ship was returned to her berthing station on Battleship Row on 7 January 2010. The ship's grand reopening occurred on 30 January.
Appearances in popular culture
Missouri was central to the plot of the film Under Siege, although many scenes were shot aboard the similar but older battleship USS Alabama. The ship was also prominently featured in another movie, Battleship. As Missouri has not moved under her own power since 1992, shots of the ship at sea were obtained with the help of three tugboats. The music video for Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" was also filmed aboard Missouri. The U.S. Navy, which had granted permission to shoot the video there, was unhappy with the sexual nature of the performance.
Missouri received three battle stars for her service in World War II, five for her service during the Korean War, and three for her service during the Gulf War. Missouri also received numerous awards for her service in World War II, Korea, and the Persian Gulf. The ship has also received a number of awards for her role as museum ship:
- 2017 Preservation Honor Award from the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation
- Historic Naval Ships Association Awards
- 2001 Russell Booth Award
- 2011 Henry A. Vadnais, Jr. Award
- 2011 HNSA Educator Award
- 2016 HNSA Educator Award
- List of broadsides of major World War II ships
- List of museum ships
- U.S. Navy memorials
- U.S. Navy museums (and other battleship museums)
- /50 refers to the length of the gun in terms of calibers. A /50 gun is 50 times long as it is in bore diameter.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: USS Missouri (BB-63) (category)|
- Battleship Missouri Memorial museum website
- Photo gallery at Naval Historical Center
- USS Missouri (BB-63) at Historic Naval Ships Association
- Photo gallery of USS Missouri at NavSource Naval History
- nvr.navy.mil: USS Missouri
- navysite.de: USS Missouri
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. HI-62, "USS Missouri, Battleship Row, Ford Island, Pearl City, Honolulu County, HI", 6 measured drawings, 21 data pages