Friday, June 19, 1998

Mo museum
to be slice of
war life

Even the shuttle bus
ride to the ship's mooring
will feature 1940s music
and news clips

By Gregg K. Kakesako


Starting in January, visitors to the USS Missouri floating museum anchored at Ford Island will get a taste of what it was like to live on a battleship.

"It'll be something very exciting," said Roy Yee, president of the USS Missouri Association, "in a marketplace that is in need of something new and different."

For the first three years, visitors will be shuttled by buses festooned in a 1940s motif from an area near the USS Arizona Memorial across the Ford Island bridge, serenaded by songs of the Andrews Sisters over loudspeakers. The military-style buses also will feature news clips and wartime radio commercials.

Eventually, the experience will include being immersed in a simulated naval battle.

"In order to educate people," Yee said, "we have to make it interactive."

Yee said the association's ambitious undertaking will cost $25 million and will be implemented in phases.

The Missouri is scheduled to arrive Sunday and be paraded between Diamond Head and Keehi Lagoon before being towed into Pearl Harbor on Monday morning.

For the first three years, the battleship will be berthed at Ford Island's concrete pier, built in 1988 when the Missouri was initially planned to join Pearl Harbor's Pacific Fleet.

It will later be moved farther down the channel to new piers built by the USS Missouri Association on "Battleship Row," close to where the USS California was moored on Dec. 7, 1941. The bow of the Missouri will be pointed toward the USS Arizona Memorial to minimize the visual impact on visitors to the sunken ship.

For $10-$12 a ticket, Missouri visitors will be shuttled across the harbor, then disembark at Ford Island's Foxtrot 5 pier, to hear the words Gen. Douglas MacArthur delivered on the ship during the signing of the Japanese surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay.

The pier will be designed with artifacts and exhibits to create the feel of 1945.

Once aboard the "Mighty Mo" berthing areas -- galley, enlisted mess, sick bay, post office, barbershop and other areas -- exhibits will reflect how the 887-foot battleship has changed during its half-century of service.

Either guided or self-guided, the tour is planned to begin at the ship's wardroom on the main deck, with artifacts and photos explaining the history of the USS Missouri. An 8-foot-long replica of the ship will display what there is to see on board.

The main deck also will house a series of exhibits detailing the evolution of battleships from "Old Ironsides" of the 18th-century Navy, to the Iowa-class battleships built for World War II.

Next stop: the 01 deck, one level above the main deck, where the Japanese surrender took place on Sept. 2, 1945. The historic site, marked by a plaque, will remain unaltered.

One level below the main deck, the USS Missouri Museum Association's "life at sea" display will feature the crew's quarters and the combat engagement center, showing how the battleship was controlled.

The association also plans an interactive "science in the Navy" exhibition center featuring the range of Navy technological capabilities such as navigation, propulsion, fire control, oceanography, radar, sonar, computer science and weaponry. This will be two decks below the main deck.

Yee said visitors will be able to climb four stories to the bridge or another flight of stairs to the 05-

deck lookout for a panoramic view of Pearl Harbor. "It will be a fantastic view of Pearl Harbor and Ford Island."

The association also is considering letting groups sleep over on the Missouri as is allowed on other aircraft carriers and battleships berthed in mainland ports.

Yee said the teak decks of the battleship also will be used for traditional naval ceremonies. "We have already scheduled a change of command and retirement ceremony for July 1.

With the Missouri's grand opening targeted for January, organizers already are eyeing a Phase 2 opening sometime in the year 2000. Plans for that call for an environmental theater near the stern of the ship featuring actors in a simulated battle in the combat engagement center, the heart of the battleship's fighting power.

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