Why Is the Battleship Missouri at Pearl Harbor?

March 06, 2020

On September 2, 1945, representatives of the United States and the Allied nations met with Japanese officials for the signing of the Instrument of Surrender. It was the event that officially ended World War II. The ceremony took place aboard the USS Missouri (BB-63), a battleship that would go on to have a long and successful service. After being decommissioned and retired from active service, the Mighty Mo found her way to Pearl Harbor to become a museum ship.

Plaque on the Surrender Deck marking the spot where World War II officially ended.
Plaque on the Surrender Deck marking the spot where World War II officially ended.

What may confuse some is that Missouri wasn’t commissioned into service until 1944, long after the Imperial Japanese Navy launched the attack on Pearl Harbor. While it might seem odd that a vessel that hadn't even been built on December 7, 1941 found a home at the location of the Japanese attack, it’s important to remember that Pearl Harbor is more than the site of the attack that launched the War in the Pacific. It’s a place of symbolism, where the USS Arizona Memorial remembers the tragic event that started of the conflict. On the opposite end of that arc, there is the Battleship Missouri, which commemorates the end of the war, the immense sacrifices made, and hope for the future.

When visitors participate in a Pearl Harbor tour, not only are they paying their respects to the fallen and learning about the history of the attack, they’re going on a journey through a timeline of the war. They start at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, which serves as an introduction to the events leading up to December 7, 1941 and its aftermath. Next, the USS Arizona Memorial program relives the tragic morning of the attack. Tours that include a visit to the Bowfin submarine explore the vessel launched on the one-year anniversary of the attack, earning her the nickname “Pearl Harbor Avenger.” Finally, tours with the Battleship Missouri included take visitors to the end of the war, and even offer the opportunity to see exactly where the Japanese officials signed the surrender documents.

What Tours Include the Battleship Missouri?

There are many official Pearl Harbor tours that include time aboard the Mighty Mo, including the Surrender Deck, crew living quarters, and the ship's big guns.

Tours that visit the Battleship Missouri include:

Remember Pearl Harbor - Arizona Memorial & Missouri Battleship

Even from afar, the USS Arizona Memorial is hauntingly beautiful
Even from afar, the USS Arizona Memorial is hauntingly beautiful

This tour includes time at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, , the USS Arizona Memorial program, and a tour of the Battleship Missouri. After Pearl Harbor, guests embark on a drive through historic downtown Honolulu and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The Remember Pearl Harbor tour also offers a luxury option that includes lunch and upgraded transportation.

Complete Pearl Harbor Experience

In addition to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, USS Arizona Memorial program, and the Battleship Missouri, this tour includes a visit to the Bowfin submarine, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

The Complete Pearl Harbor Experience also includes the downtown Honolulu excursion. Guests can upgrade to the Beyond the Call to Duty Pearl Harbor Tour, which includes a buffet lunch and upgraded transportation.


Air, Land, & Sea Pearl Harbor Tour

Air, Land, & Sea Pearl Harbor Tour
The Air, Land, & Sea Tour offers a bird's-eye view of Pearl Harbor

This experience includes time at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, the USS Arizona Memorial program, and a tour of the Battleship Missouri. It also includes a 45-minute helicopter ride over southern Oahu and Pearl Harbor.

Visiting Pearl Harbor gives you an opportunity to learn about the brave men and women who fought for their country all those years ago and to honor their great sacrifices. When you understand the whole arc of the War in the Pacific, the answer to why is the Battleship Missouri at Pearl Harbor becomes clear.

Find a Tour


Remember Pearl Harbor Tour from Waikiki

Pearl Harbor Tour

6-7 hours (approx.)
From $118

Official Passport to Pearl Harbor


6-8 hours (approx.)
From $89.99

The Complete Pearl Harbor Tour Experience With Lunch

Pearl Harbor Tour

10.5 hours (approx.)
From $204
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