USS Missouri Specs, Tours, and Crew


By: Kellar Ellsworth

The USS Missouri nicknamed “Mighty Mo” had a long and illustrious career of duty. She was a United States Navy Iowa-class battleship, ordered in June of 1940, a year and half before Pearl Harbor. Built in Brooklyn, NY, she was christened by Mary Margaret Truman. That would be President Truman’s daughter but at that time, he was just a senator from Missouri. After rigorous testing, a long journey through the Panama Canal and passing through San Francisco, the USS Missouri arrived finally in Pearl Harbor.

The Missouri’s island vacation was short, as the war was heating up in the Pacific. Despite not entering WWII until June of 1944, the USS Missouri made up for lost time. It sported nine 406mm/50 caliber Mark 7 guns that fired 2,700 lb armor piercing shells that could range close to 20 miles! In reserve “Mighty Mo” utilized twenty 127mm/38 caliber twin turrets with an effective range of 10 miles. With all that fierce weaponry, the Missouri was thrown into the thick of the war, laying siege at the battle of Iwo Jima.

The Battle of Iwo Jima is considered among the most crucial in America’s fight for the Pacific. There, the USS Missouri’s firepower rained down continuous cover fire, allowing the US invasion force to prevail. Elsewhere, along the coast from Ulithi to Okinawa, the famous battleship made its presence known, providing an escort for aircraft carriers or directly bombarding Japanese bases. Despite all of her crew’s heroic deeds during WWII, the USS Missouri is most known for the historic event that took place on her deck on September 2nd, 1945.

USS Arizona Battleship Crew

On that day in history, in Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri, the Japanese signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender. A host of countries in attendance signed but the principles were Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, signing first and U.S. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. In a 23 minute ceremony the battle of the Pacific was over and the healing could begin.

After WWII the USS Missouri was primarily utilized in training and ceremonial gun salutes. Then the Korean War beckoned and the Missouri answered the call fighting as the flagship of Vice Admiral A.D. Struble, Commander of the 7th fleet. One would think that would be in the end for the old girl. U.S Navy even decommissioned her in 1955. That was not to be the end for old Mo when President Reagan started a program to build a 600 ship Navy. So her cobwebs taken off again and she was refitted with the most advanced weaponry available in 1984. Four MK 141 quad cell launchers and AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles replaced the ancient technology from WWII. The Gulf War called and “Mighty Mo” answered the bell one last time.

USS Arizona Battleship Memorial today

Today the USS Missouri is back in Pearl Harbor where she belongs. The old battle ship’s bow faces the Arizona Memorial. There she watches over her sunken brethren in peace. The USS Missouri is listed on the National Register of Historic places and is a must see if you are ever near Pearl Harbor. Tours are available and transportation to and from Pearl Harbor is generally included.

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