Battleship Missouri Gets a Facelift

Battleship Missouri Gets a Facelift (Flickr ©LukeGordon1 - 3999259281)

On October 14, 2009 four tug boats pulled and prodded the 54,889-ton Battleship Missouri two miles to dry dock for a facelift. Restoration specialists will work around the clock for the next three months as the USS Missouri (BB-63) benefits from an $18 million dollar preservation effort. Work will include painting and patching leaks in the hull, installing anti-corrosion systems as well as upgrading plumbing, sewage and electrical systems. Chains will replace the worn rope mooring lines. The ship will have a new tent installed on the fantail to host events. The USS Missouri Memorial Association funded this project through donations, admission fees and product sales.

The museum ship USS Missouri arrives for maintenance and preservation work.
USS Missouri (BB-63) arrives at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Mark Logico/Released

Mighty Mo is one of several historic sites clustered within Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. An Iowa class battleship, she is 997 feet long and 209 feet high from keel to mast. Original equipment included nine 16 inch guns and twenty 5 inch anti-aircraft guns. She could reach speeds of over 30 knots (35 mph).

The Missouri saw plenty of action in 50 years of service. Earning 11 battle stars, she was the last battleship ever commissioned by the United States government. Built in the Brooklyn New York Navy Yard and christened by Mary Margaret Truman on January 29, 1944 she sailed in time to join the Pacific Fleet during World War II. During her tour of the Pacific Theater she fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. She was in Okinawa when attacked by a Kamikaze pilot who left a lasting dent on her aft starboard side that is still visible today. Perhaps the most memorable event occurred on Sept 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay. The formal Japanese surrender and signing of the Japanese–Armistice that ended World War II took place on the Missouri. A commemorative brass plaque embedded in the ship’s teak deck now marks the historic spot.

A key force in the Korean War, the Missouri was the first American ship to arrive in support of the Korean Republic. She sailed into the Korean peninsula and served there from 1950 to 1953. The nine 16 inch guns launched 2,700 pound shells a distance of up to 23 miles. The ship was decommissioned in 1955, destined for the Pacific Reserve Fleet and possibly the scrap yard. In 1986, however, the Mighty Mo was re-commissioned and retrofitted with the most advanced technology available at the time, including Tomahawk missile launchers. In 1990, she took on Iraq and Kuwait targets in “Operation Desert Storm“.

On the 50th anniversary of the December 7, 1941 attack, the Missouri made its final voyage, leading an armada into Pearl Harbor. America’s last active battleship was decommissioned once again in 1992. In 1998, she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to her preservation. The ship was then opened to the public as a museum, a memorial to our people and history, exactly 55 years after she was launched. Her position in Battleship Row off Ford Island honors and watches over the men of the USS Arizona who were entombed below the water just yards away on December 7, 1941. These two ships symbolize the beginning and end of World War II in the Pacific Theater.

The USS Missouri receives over 400,000 visitors who tour the ship each year. The battleship is expected to return to her position on Battleship Row in January 2010.

  • Designing the Missouri took 175 tons of blueprint paper. The ship was built in three years and required over 3 million man-days to complete the job.
  • For comparison’s sake, the Missouri is 279 feet longer and 11 feet wider than the USS Arizona. The Mighty Mo is also 5 feet longer and 18 feet wider than the RMS Titanic.
  • Just how big is the Missouri? If you could stand the ship on end, it would be 332 feet taller than the Washington Monument.
  • The nine 16-inch guns are the Mighty Mo’s trademark feature. Each gun barrel is approximately 67 feet long, weighs an incredible 116 tons, and can fire a 2,700-pound shell 23 miles in 50 seconds — with pinpoint accuracy.
  • The Missouri was the last U.S. battleship to be launched and the last to be decommissioned. She was also the most formidable. In addition to her massive firepower capabilities, she possessed thick steel armor plating that protected the hull (13.5 inches), the gun turrets (17 inches in front; 13 inches on the sides), the citadel (17 inches), and the conning tower sides (17.3 inches).

USS Missouri via 808Talk on Flickr

Video: Timelapse – Mighty Mo entering drydock via Honolulu Advertiser/USA Today

About this guest blogger:
April M. Williams is a frequent visitor to Hawaii and a great friend of 808Talk.

Learn more about April by visiting her at the websites below.
CyberLife Tutors Blog
Personal Blog

What is RSS?If you enjoyed this post, make sure and subscribe to the RSS Feed RSS Feed!
Or you could read this blog via Email Subscription Email Subscription.

2 Responses to “ Battleship Missouri Gets a Facelift ”

  1. Repairs are complete and Mighty Mo returns from drydock today. Stop by to visit when you are on Oahu.

    April M. Williams

  2. When the Missouri was in drydock what was it sitting on??

    How does the keel get painted when it is sitting on something?

    Thank you

    Joe McKean

Leave a Reply