For the United States, World War II began on December7, 1941, when a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor sank or damaged 21 naval vessels. For the world, WWII ended on Sep. 2, 1945, when Japanese forces surrendered on board the USS Missouri.
Today, the USS Missouri or “Mighty Mo” is permanently anchored in Pearl Harbor a ship’s length away from the wreckage of the USS Arizona. The Arizona sank during the December 7 attack and its loss claimed 1,177 crewmen, more than half of the lives lost that day. The two ships serve as bookends to the American involvement in WWII.
The Mighty Mo is now both a majestic battleship and a museum docked in Pearl Harbor on Ford Island. Its nine 16-inch guns now stand dormant after its long and storied career.
The Missouri was under construction in 1941, with its keel laid on January 6 of that year and was still under construction during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was built to be a powerful war machine that was capable of launching a 2,700-pound projectile 23 miles via its 16-inch guns. It was commissioned in 1944 and participated in WWII, the Korean War and was later refurbished to become a fixture in Desert Storm.
In 1955 the Missouri was decommissioned but was later brought back into service under President Regan in 1986. After six more years of service, including Desert Storm, the Missouri was decommissioned for the final time in 1992 and in 1999 it opened as the Battleship Missouri Memorial, a museum ship in Pearl Harbor.
Visitors to the ship have the option of taking a 35 minute guided tour, walking tour (times vary) or an audio tour (45 to 120 min). For an additional fee, guests can take the Heart of the Missouri tour that delves into the mechanics of the ship.
Guests are given free reign to explore the ship’s open areas, even climbing up ladders to great views of the harbor, or down stairs into the belly of the ship to see how the crew lived, ate and slept. While touring, visitors can view the living quarters for past Sailors and the staterooms for officers. There are also exhibits on the Korean War and the Chief Petty Officers Legacy Center.
Guests can take a shuttle to Ford Island to visit the USS Missouri from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. For more information, visit www.ussmissouri.org or call (808) 973-2494.