'Mighty Mo' Returns to Pearl Harbor

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HONOLULU -- After seeing action that spanned from World War II to the Gulf War, the battleship USS Missouri arrived at its final home, Pearl Harbor.

The "Mighty Mo" docked at Ford Island, 1,000 feet from the USS Arizona Memorial, with ceremonies held at nearby Hickam Air Force Base. "Mo Mania" began the previous day as the 887-foot long warship, decommissioned in 1992, was towed several miles off the south coast.

USS Missouri's web siteThousands climbed Diamond Head for the best views, while traffic gridlocked at its base. Celebrations at Magic Island near Waikiki, with military bands and food booths, ended with fireworks.

In late May, the ship began its final journey, towed by tug from Bremerton, Wash., the culmination of years of effort by the state and USS Missouri Memorial Association, a Hawaii nonprofit group.

In 1996, Honolulu was chosen by the Navy as the ship's final home, beating bids by San Francisco, Long Beach, Calif., and Bremerton. Honolulu had a compelling argument: the Arizona and Missouri represented the Pacific War's beginning and end -- the Pearl Harbor attack and the signing of Japanese surrender aboard the Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.

The ship will be open to the public in January, with exhibits in place. Visitors will be shuttled from a site adjacent the Arizona Memorial Visitor Center to Ford Island, via a bridge that opened earlier this year.

In three years, the vessel will be moved to its permanent site, at Ford Island's seaward end, almost one mile from the Arizona. It probably will be five years before all the ship's proposed public areas are opened.

The association has a fundraising effort under way that it hopes will raise $25 million for the project.

For further information, visit the association's Web site at www.ussmissouri.com.

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