The decommissioned battleship USS Missouri, well known to many as the “Mighty Mo,” was in rough shape on June 22, 1998, the day it was towed into Pearl Harbor and moored at its current home: Pier Foxtrot-5, not far from the bow of the sunken USS Arizona.
Rusting badly, with its teak decks in disrepair, the Missouri was in need of extensive cleaning inside and out, but help wasn’t far off. Hundreds of Oahu volunteers would take part in a seven-month revitalization effort, whipping the vessel into first-rate condition for its reopening to the public as the Battleship Missouri Memorial on Jan. 29, 1999, the 55th anniversary of the 887-foot vessel’s launch from the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York.
“The USS Missouri was warmly welcomed to Hawaii 15 years ago, and we have received incredible support since then in developing this inspiring memorial and honoring all that this battleship represents to America and our freedom,” said Michael A. Carr, president and COO of the nonprofit Battleship Missouri Memorial. “We’re very proud of our success and the impact the Missouri has made to the Pearl Harbor experience and being part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.”
A must-see for any history buff visiting Oahu, the Mighty Mo has enjoyed an impressive collection of highlights since arriving in Pearl Harbor 15 years ago, including restoration to its 16-inch guns and the addition of several onboard exhibitions, hosting a visit from President George W. Bush in 2003, starring roles in the big-budget Hollywood films “Pearl Harbor” and “Battleship,” and welcoming its 5 millionth visitor in July 2012.
“Coming aboard the Mighty Mo is a moving experience: standing on the Surrender Deck, looking up at the big guns and seeing how the ship’s crew lived at sea,” Carr said. “We are constantly working to improve the educational and historical value of seeing this magnificent battleship first-hand and celebrating its place in our nation’s history.”
A veteran of three wars and the site of Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces in 1945, the Missouri will host an unveiling ceremony for another addition to its exhibition collection, an eight-foot statue of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz on Sept. 2, the 68th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during summer months, general admission to the Battleship Missouri Memorial, which includes a choice of optional tours, is $22 for adults and $11 for children ages 4 to 12.