Battleship Missouri

PEARL HARBOR, HAWAII - OCTOBER 6, 2012: The Battleship USS Missouri at anchor in Pearl Harbor Hawaii in 6th of October 2012.

The USS Missouri (BB-63) was an Iowa-class battleship built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She was launched on January 29, 1944. She was the last US Navy battleship to be commissioned. The USS Missouri displaced 58,000 tons and had a maximum speed of 32 knots, with a range of approximately 17,000 miles. Along with her three other sisters of the Iowa class, the USS Missouri was among the largest and fastest battleships built for the US Navy. She was protected with armor ranging from 11 to 19 inches thick. She was armed with nine Mk.7, 16-inch / 50 caliber naval rifles, 20 5-inch / 38 caliber dual-purpose guns, and numerous 40mm and 20mm anti-aircraft guns. Unlike earlier battleships like the battleships present at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, The Iowas were fast battleships with speeds in excess of 30 knots as opposed to the 21 knots of the earlier battleships. This speed allowed them to keep up with the aircraft carriers as they stormed across the Pacific on their way to Japan. The USS Missouri is notable as being the location of the signing of the Japanese surrender at the end of WWII. The USS Missouri also served in the Korean War. She was decommissioned and stored with the mothball fleet until 1984, when she was reactivated and modernized. She received modern radar and missile countermeasures, 20mm CIWS defensive guns, RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles. She fought in the 1991 Persian Gulf war providing gunfire support for Marines and launching cruise missiles at targets in Iraq. She was even attacked by Iraqi anti-ship missiles, but they either missed or were intercepted by her escorts. The USS Missouri was decommissioned in 1992 and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor in 1999. The USS Missouri was featured in a Cher video and several big-budget Hollywood movies such as “Under Siege”, “Pearl Harbor”, and “Battleship”.

Statue of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz standing near the entrance to the USS Missouri.

Across from the Pearl Harbor National Memorial on Ford Island is the USS Missouri Battleship. When you get off the bus from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and enter the gate to the Battleship Missouri, you will see a bronze-colored statue of a naval officer. That is a statue of one of the most famous Admirals in US history. He is Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who was once the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT). Admiral Nimitz was appointed as the head of the US Pacific Fleet after Admiral Husband E. Kimmel was relieved of command after the disaster known as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. While Admiral Nimitz was in charge of what would become the largest and most powerful navy in the world by 1945, things were not so certain for Admiral Nimitz in the first few months of the war. Any future plans hung heavily on blunting the Japanese advances and allowing time for the US to build up forces for future offensive operations. While initially, the news had been grim. The Philippines had fallen, the US Asiatic fleet had all but ceased to be, and the Dutch East Indies and the British Colony of Malaya had both fallen to the Japanese. Even the tiny outpost of Wake Island, what many feared could be a stepping stone to a possible Japanese invasion of Hawaii and beyond, had fallen. But under the command of Admiral Nimitz and a host of talented subordinates, things started to turn around. The Japanese were thwarted at the Battle of the Coral Sea, securing the lines of supply and communication with Australia. The Doolittle Raid on Toyko forced the Japanese to redirect resources to defend their home Islands. Then the Battle of Midway. Admiral Nimitz’s fateful decision to listen to his intelligence analysts and make a gamble allowed the US Navy to set a trap for the Japanese. The US victory in that battle all but ended Japan’s hope for any greater advances. Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur shared the US Navy in the Pacific. Each had his own theater, and both advanced toward Japan in parallel. That they did this with the US Government taking a Germany-first policy with the bulk of the resources going to Europe is also impressive. Admiral Nimitz favored a strategy called Island hopping, where only key Islands are invaded and taken. All others are left to “wither on the vine.” General Macarthur only had one goal. To liberate the Philippines, to keep his promise that he would return. In the end, the question of who was right is unimportant. The important part is that Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur both stood on the deck of the USS Missouri the accept the surrender of the defeated Japanese while presiding over the largest fleet ever assembled in history.

Aerial view of the USS Missouri on a calm day

A view from the bridge of the USS Missouri on a cloudy day in Hawaii.

The 16-inch guns of the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor National Memorial

The surrender deck of the USS Missouri. A guided tour is available for those who have a ticket for the Battleship Missouri.

A photograph of the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri is on display on turret number 2 aboard the Battleship Missouri in Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

On September 2, 1945, the Japanese formally surrendered to the Allied powers at the end of WWII. Eleven delegates representing the Empire of Japan boarded the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The Allied delegation waited for them aboard the Battleship Missouri, where the ceremony was to be held. Representing the Allies were: For the United States- Admiral Chester W. Nimitz; for China- General Hsu Yung-Chang; for the United Kingdom- Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser; for the Soviet Union- Lieutenant General Kuzma Derevyanko; for Australia- General Sir Thomas Blamey, For Canada- Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave, For France- General de Corps d’Armee Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, For the Netherlands- Lieutenant Admiral C. E. L. Helfrich, For New Zealand- Air Vice-Marshal Leonard M. Isitt. General Douglas MacArthur signed the document as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. The Japanese signatories were: Mamoru Shigemitsu -On behalf of the Emperor & its Government, and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff. The original document is stored at the US National Archives in Washington, DC. The Japanese copy is stored at the Edo-Tokyo Museum’s archives. The area where the ceremony took place is called the surrender deck, and it is part of the 30-minute guided deck tour included with the admission for the USS Missouri.

A copy of the instruments of surrender on the surrender deck display on the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor.

The signature page of the USS Missouri Battleship at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

The galley for the enlisted mess aboard the USS Missouri Battleship located in the Pearl Harbor National Memorial

The wardroom of the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor. This is the officers' dining area.

The Captain's cabin on the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor

The mail room aboard the Battleship Missouri at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial

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