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USS MISSOURI (BB-63)

The USS Missouri (BB-63) (“Mighty Mo” or “Big Mo”) is a United States Navy Iowa-class battleship, and was the fourth ship of the U.S. Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state of Missouri. Missouri was the last battleship built by the United States, and was the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan which ended World War II.

Missouri was ordered in 1940 and commissioned in June 1944. In the Pacific Theater of World War II she fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and shelled the Japanese home islands, and she fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. She was decommissioned in 1955 into the United States Navy reserve *fleets (the “Mothball Fleet”), but reactivated and modernized in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy plan, and provided fire support during Operation Desert Storm in January/February 1991.

Missouri received a total of 11 battle stars for service in World War II, Korea, and the Persian Gulf, and was finally decommissioned on 31 March 1992, but remained on the Naval Vessel Register until her name was struck in January 1995. In 1998, she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship in Pearl Harbor.

Missouri was one of the Iowa-class “fast battleship” designs planned in 1938 by the Preliminary Design Branch at the Bureau of Construction and Repair. She laid down at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 6 January 1941, was launched on 29 January 1944 and commissioned on 11 June with Captain William Callaghan in command. The ship was the third of the Iowa class, but the fourth and final Iowa-class ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy. The ship was christened at her launching by Mary Margaret Truman, daughter of Harry S. Truman, then a United States Senator from Missouri.

Missouri‘s main battery consisted of nine 16 in (410 mm)/50 cal Mark 7 guns, which could fire 2,700 lb (1,200 kg) armor-piercing shells some 20 mi (32 km). Her secondary battery consisted of 20 5 in (130 mm)/38 cal guns in twin turrets, with a range of about 10 mi (16 km). With the advent of air power and the need to gain and maintain air superiority came a need to protect the growing fleet of allied aircraft carriers; to this end, Missouri was fitted with an array of Oerlikon 20 mm and Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft guns to defend allied carriers from enemy airstrikes. When reactivated in 1984 Missouri had her 20 mm and 40 mm AA guns removed, and was outfitted with Phalanx CIWS mounts for protection against enemy missiles and aircraft, and Armored Box Launchers and Quad Cell Launchers designed to fire Tomahawk missiles and Harpoon missiles, respectively.

Missouri was the last U.S. battleship to be completed Wisconsin, the highest-numbered U.S. battleship built, was completed before Missouri; BB-65 to BB-71 were ordered but cancelled.

The most famous event ever to happen aboard MISSOURI was Japan’s surrender to the Allies on September 2, 1945.  This put to an end the bloodiest (an estimated 50 million deaths world-wide) period of Mankind’s history and it was all done in a 23 minute ceremony presided over by Douglas MacArthur.

MISSOURI was the only American battleship to remain in commission from the end of WWII to 1955, when she was decommissioned and placed in mothballs in Bremerton, Washington.

There she sat for almost thirty years, but “duty called” once again and MISSOURI and her three sister ships (USS IOWA, USS NEW JERSEY and USS WISCONSIN) were all reactivated, updated and recommissioned as part of President Reagan’s effort to restore “the 600-ship Navy.”  They all served during Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield, and MISSOURI was finally decommissioned for the last time on March 31, 1992, ending a truly remarkable career that spanned almost fifty years!




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