Honolulu Star-Bulletin Local News

Where it began
The USS Arizona burns and sinks on Dec. 7, 1941,
the day America entered World War II.

USS Arizona Memorial

'Mighty Mo'
to stand watch beside
the vanquished Arizona

The famous dreadnaught will be

moored permanently at Pearl Harbor

By Gregg K. Kakesako

State officials believe a million visitors will come to Hawaii just to see the battleship that officially ended World War II.

That's in addition to the 1.6 million tourists paying respects to the USS Arizona, symbol of the beginning of the war.

The USS Missouri - "Mighty Mo" - will be moored next to the Arizona by the end of 1998, said Seiji Naya, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

It was on the teak deck of the battleship that the Japanese surrendered to Gen. Douglas MacArthur to end World War II.

The Navy yesterday announced that the permanent home of the 52-year-old Missouri will be Pearl Harbor.

Where it Ended
Japanese officials walk toward the table on the
USS Missouri's deck where the unconditional surrender
to end World War II was signed on Sept. 5, 1945.

Associated Press

The announcement ended a long tug-of-war over the venerable battleship, with competing bids from Long Beach, Calif., San Francisco, and Bremerton, Wash - where the Missouri now rests after being decommissioned in 1992.

Naya credited Hawaii Sen. Daniel K. Inouye as instrumental in bringing the Missouri to Hawaii.

"The USS Arizona is a symbol of the beginning of the war," Naya said, "and the Missouri symbolizes the end of the war. They are a perfect match for us."

Gov. Ben Cayetano hailed the Navy's decision, saying it was "a great boost for Hawaii."

"Our state is the appropriate place for the ship because World War II began here and ended on the Missouri."

Inouye, a World War II veteran, said the ship "will serve as a reminder to all Americans of the many sacrifices made by sons and daughters and which culminated with the end of Pacific war aboard this gallant ship on Sept. 2, 1945."

Adm. R.J. Zlatoper, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said: "Missouri not only symbolizes the end of a tragic war, but also our commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the region."

Ed Carter, chairman of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, said he hopes to have the 887-foot battlewagon towed to Hawaii during the spring of 1998.

Initially the battleship will be moored on Ford Island at Foxtrot Pier, which was specifically built in 1990 for the battleship before plans to moor the ship here were scuttled.

The pier was built six years ago following six years of lobbying to get the battleship - then an active member of the Pacific Fleet - homeported in Hawaii. But following the Gulf War it was decommissioned and mothballed in Bremerton.

The Missouri will remain at the Ford Island pier until the bridge connecting the tiny island with Pearl Harbor is completed in 1998. Visitors would be bused to the battleship.

The ship would then be moved to where the USS California was moored when it was attacked by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941.

Navy Secretary John Dalton said he decided in favor of Honolulu after evaluating the technical, financial, historical and public interest aspects of the varied proposals.

"This was a very tough decision, since all the proposals were so excellent and impressive," he said. "I'm genuinely sorry the Navy doesn't have a USS Missouri to give to each of these cities."

The Missouri association plans to raise $25 million nationwide to pay for the upkeep of the battleship. It already has $7.5 million to cover the cost of towing, preparing the ship for visitors and other maintenance costs before the ship can begin to produce revenue.

Architects Hawaii has designed a memorial park to be built adjacent to the Bowfin Museum.

The keel for the 58,000-ton Iowa class battleship was laid in 1941 and the ship was launched three years later. It was the last battleship built by the United States.

During World War II the ship provided gunfire support in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

It saw action during the Korean War and went through its first decommissioning in 1955. In 1986 the Missouri was recalled to active duty and was homeported in Long Beach.

The battleship ship also saw action in the Persian Gulf War, pounding Iraq in anticipation of the ground offensive against Saddam Hussein's troops.

Navy Petty Officer First Class Scott Thornbloom served on the Missouri for three years during the gulf war until it was decommissioned for the second time in 1992.

He also welcomed the news that the war vessel would become a museum piece. "It should be on display because it is historical."

Thornbloom recalled that more than 1,500 sailors served with him on the Missouri. "That's more than the population of the town I grew up in in Illinois," he said.

Battleships were once considered the stars of the Navy's fleet, able to fling shells weighing up to 2,700 pounds more than 25 miles from their huge, 16-inch guns. But despite their 16-inch armor plating, they were deemed vulnerable to submarine and missile attack.

The battleship population reached its peak in 1918 when there were 39 of them.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Community] [Info] [Stylebook] [Feedback]