The Final Decommissioning of USS Missouri
July 23, 2018
Construction of USS Missouri (BB-63) began almost a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor, but it wasn’t until June 11, 1944, that she was commissioned into the United States Navy. She entered service at the tail end of World War II, but that was only one of several conflicts in which the “Mighty Mo” served. It was at the end of the Second World War, however, when Missouri served her best-known duty as the vessel where Japan signed the official surrender. In the years after World War II, she took part in the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf before being scheduled for her final decommissioning in 1992.
Decommissioning USS Missouri for the last time was a big deal not only because of the time she spent in service and her accomplishments throughout the years. She also had the distinction of being the last battleship commissioned by the US Navy before that type of warship was replaced by more powerful and modernized destroyers. On December 7, 1991, exactly fifty years after the attack on on the Oahu naval base, Missouri embarked on her final mission: a voyage to Pearl Harbor for the 50th-anniversary commemoration of the “date which will live in infamy.” Mooring near the USS Arizona Memorial, Missouri was a proud reminder of the great generation of men and women who served throughout the Pacific during the Second World War.
Just under four months after her visit to Pearl Harbor, the day arrived for the final decommissioning of USS Missouri. On March 31, 1992, the crew of the Mighty Mo awoke to their instructions, known as the Plan of the Day, which outlined the vessel’s routine for that day. Along with the rather short list of tasks was a letter from the ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain A. Lee Kaiss, that praised the crew and the time he spent with them. “Our final day has arrived,” Kaiss wrote, “Today the final chapter in battleship Missouri’s history will be written.”
Missouri’s final Plan of the Day ended at 1000 hours with her decommissioning, but not before special and honored guests arrived to see the mighty vessel off. Included in the list of guests were Command Master Chief Timothy Hofman, Chaplain Lieutenant John Grenham, and Missouri State Representative Ike Skelton. After Grenham spoke, Captain Kaiss spoke the final order of his service aboard USS Missouri, directing the Executive Officer Captain Ken Jordan to “haul down the colors.” Those in attendance at the decommissioning ceremony received a commorative program that listed the officers, chief petty officers, and crew who were the last to serve aboard the Mighty Mo.
Though Missouri was decommissioned from active service, she still had a service to perform, and returned to Pearl Harbor, this time as a memorial dedicated to the Allied victory in the Pacific. Unlike many of the other mighty battleships that survived the war only to be sold for scrap, Missouri stands today as a proud part of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, open to the public for tours.