X MARKS THE SPOT
STAR-BULLETIN / 2004
A visit to the Mighty Mo offers a rare opportunity to tour a vessel that made World War II history.
Maintaining, preserving the Missouri is a big deal
Taking on a battleship is like getting the Golden Gate Bridge dumped in your lap. Start scraping and painting at one end, and in a year you'll get to the other end, and you can start over. That's why most preserved battleships are wards of the government -- it's a an expensive proposition.
The USS Missouri, berthed at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, and the third leg of the World War II attractions in the area, is the exception to the rule. They're trying to make a go of it with as little government help as possible.
There has been nothing to compare to the mighty Iowa-class battleships, and you'll probably never see their like again, a sea-going mountain of steel and thundering firepower. The nation simply no longer has the budget, nor the engineering knowledge, to manufacture such creatures. Of the four Iowas, the Missouri has the most history, both as the place where the Pacific War ended and for her service in conflicts over the last 60 years. She is the last battleship ever built.
When the ship was mothballed in 1994 in Bremerton, Wash., Cmdr. Edwin Carter, Adm. Ron Hays and Boatswains Mate Harold Estes decided over lunch that Pearl Harbor was a logical place for the ship to end her days. The USS Missouri Memorial Association's four-year effort paid off and Missouri was towed to the islands.
The ship is considered a memorial, and visitors are awed by the enormous holystoned teak decks and the gigantic rifled cannons. Everything about her is big.
Because the ship is in the midst of an active-duty naval base, access is a security issue. Visitors must be shuttled over the island from a bus stop between the Arizona Memorial Visitors Center and the USS Bowfin submarine museum. To see all three sites is an all-day excursion.
Supporters can call the USS Missouri Memorial Association at (808) 423-2263.
"X Marks the Spot"
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