Mighty makeover


POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2009

More than 100 Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard women and men pulled 20 mooring lines yesterday to guide the 887-foot-long battleship Missouri the last few yards into the Navy's premiere dry dock for a three-month, $18 million hull-to-mast makeover.

The entire process, several years in the making, started just before 7 a.m. as the sun was just breaking over the Koolaus.

Four commercial tugboats—two at the 54,899-ton battleship's stern and another two at the vessel's bow—stood ready as heavy mooring lines were cast off and retrieved by 80 Seabees Ford Island's Fox Five 5 pier.

“;This was my home,”; reminisced Toby Langcadn, a Missouri museum volunteer who served on the monstrous battleship as the captain's steward in 1952-53.

“;I took her to Bremerton in 1954 for her first decommissioning,”; he recalled, referring to the first time the “;Mighty Mo”; was taken out of service and placed in a mothball fleet near Seattle. “;Look at this baby. The only difference now is that there is no smoke coming up from her stacks.”;

;[Preview]  'Mighty Mo' to undergo makeover

For three months and $18 million, the Battleship Missouri will be in dry docked at Pearl Harbor as it undergoes a makeover.

Watch ]


Since the Missouri was not permitted to fire up its boilers and engines for its first trip in 11 years, four tugs were used to nudge the battle wagon two miles down the harbor to the dry dock.

Thirty-five volunteers were given the chance to “;ride”; the Missouri from Ford Island to the dry dock. In January, on the return trip, members of the Missouri Memorial Association's “;Golden Rivet Circle”;—donors of $500 or more this year—and the memorial's “;Plank Owners Founding Circle”; will be offered passage.

The Missouri—on whose teak decks Japan signed the surrender documents in September 1945, ending the Pacific War—also served in the Korean War. The ship was decommissioned in 1955 and pressed back into service from 1986 to 1992, participating in the 1991 Desert Storm campaign.

By 8 a.m., the floating museum was at the sill or the mouth of the 1,100-foot-long dry dock. Fifty shipyard workers on each side of the 42-foot-wide dry dock grabbed mooring lines and pulled the battleship into the dock stern first.

After the battleship was positioned over 310 keel blocks, each weighing 8 tons, in the dry dock, a large door called a caisson was lowered and 53 million gallons of saltwater were pumped out. The ship then settled on the keel blocks.

Shipyard officials said the Missouri is the largest vessel to enter the dry dock.

In dry dock, work will include sandblasting, hull inspection and any needed repairs, followed by preservation treatment. The Missouri also will be repainted from top to bottom.

BAE Systems Ship Repair has the contract to overhaul the historic battleship.

The last time the battleship was dry-docked was in 1992 at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard as part of its second—and final—decommissioning. The Navy donated the vessel to the association in 1998.

Paul Dyson, vice president for marketing and sales for the association, said the battleship will be in dry dock 4 until Jan. 7 and be returned to its Ford Island pier in time for the 66th anniversary celebration of its launching from the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Jan. 29.