Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, June 16, 1998

Illustrations by David Swann, Star-Bulletin


The big ship

Stuff to know about the
battleship Missouri



Cannon Question: How come I keep hearing about this "Mighty Mo"? What is it, some kinda giant moose?

Answer: No, Bonzo, not a moose. The Mighty Mo is the nickname of a Navy battleship, the USS Missouri.

Q: And so?

A: And so, the Missouri is coming to Hawaii, where it is going to be turned into a floating museum at Pearl Harbor.

Q: What, we don't have enough ships at Pearl Harbor? What's so special about this one?

A: Well, Bonzo, the Missouri has a special meaning in American history. It was on board this ship that the Japanese formally surrendered and World War II came to an end. Gen. Douglas MacArthur -- he was our top soldier at the time -- accepted the surrender right there on the deck of the ship on Sept. 2, 1945.

Football fields Q: This was in Hawaii?

A: Well, no, it was in Tokyo Bay. But lots of people want to see the Missouri here because this is where the war began for the United States -- with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. This way, visitors to Pearl Harbor can see the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri Memorial, representing the beginning and the end of World War II.

Q: But if it's such a big, important ship and all, doesn't the Navy still need it?

A: Not anymore. The Missouri was the last active battleship in any navy in the world, which is another reason it is so special. Wars aren't fought with battleships anymore, they use aircraft carriers. The Missouri was retired, or mothballed, in 1992, after fighting in three wars: WWII, the Korean War and the Persian Gulf war.

Q: OK, I get it. So when can I see it?

A: On Sunday the Missouri should arrive off Diamond Head in Waikiki. A party at 3 p.m. on Magic Island will welcome it. The next day it will reach its new Pearl Harbor home. Next January the memorial museum will be open and you'll probably visit on a school field trip, if not sooner.

Q: Will I like it?

A: Well, Bonzo, you oughta be impressed. The Missouri is HUGE. It's 887 feel long and weighs 45,000 tons. A single anchor weighs 30,000 pounds. Mari the elephant at the Honolulu Zoo weighs 11,340 pounds, so that's like three of her.

You'll be able to walk all over the ship -- you'll see the big guns and the places where the sailors slept, ate, worked and fought. Plus, there will be exhibits to teach you about World War II and about battleships like the Missouri. Maybe this doesn't sound too interesting right now, but it's history, Bonzo. Imagine oatmeal. History is kinda like that. Not as exciting as, say, french fries, but better for your brain.

Arizona, Missouri info graphic

Did you Mo?

The shells shot from the Mighty Mo's big guns weigh 2,700 pounds, the same as a Volkswagen Beetle.

Other Mo facts:

STAR The Missouri can carry 2.5 million gallons of fuel, maybe 10,000 times more than your mom's car.

STAR Most of the ship's hull is 13-1/2 inches thick. Your head is about 5 inches thick, so the Missouri is like 2-1/2 of your heads side-by-side.

STAR The Missouri has 90 miles of pipes, 900 electric motors, 844 doors, 852 manholes and 161 hatches.

STAR The Missouri is the length of three football fields.

STAR The ship's mess hall used to serve 6,000 meals every day. The sailors drank 50,000-100,000 cans of soda every month.

Follow the USS Missouri online
as she heads for home at: or

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