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USS Missouri BB-63

USS Missouri BB-63

A Conversation with the USS Missouri’s Curator Meghan Rathbun

Dawn of the USS Missouri BB-63
• Four Iowa-class battleships were built during World War II, designed for speed and
• The USS Missouri’s keel was laid on Jan. 6, 1941, at the New York Naval Shipyard,
Brooklyn, NY.
• Her armament included the main battery of nine 16 inch-barrel guns and 20 5 inch barrel anti-aircraft guns that dropped down to 12 after the refit.
• The Missouri was launched on Jan. 29, 1944, and commissioned on June 11, 1944.
• She was assigned to the Pacific Third Fleet and steamed into Pearl Harbor on Christmas
Eve, 1944.

USS Missouri BB-63 & Her Service
• Tokyo: The USS Missouri was part of the force that carried out bombing raids over
Tokyo and provided firepower in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
• End of the War: The Missouri secured its place in history as the site of Japan’s formal
surrender to the Allied Forces on Sept. 2, 1945, ending World War II. The ceremony for
the signing of the Instrument of Surrender was conducted by Supreme Allied
Commander, General Douglas A. MacArthur.

• Korea: The Mighty Mo’s main battery firepower became a legend in Korea, with her
nine 16 inch-barrel guns hurling 1,900 & 2,700-pound shells as heavy as Volkswagens over 23
miles in defense of U.S. land forces.

• Decommissioning: In 1955, the Missouri was decommissioned and mothballed at the
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
• Recommissioning: The USS Missouri was recommissioned in 1986 after undergoing an
extensive modernization and refurbishment.

• Persian Gulf: Mighty Mo was deployed to the Persian Gulf where it fired its 16-inch
guns and launched Tomahawk missiles against Iraqi positions during Operation Desert

• Last mission: The Missouri’s final operational mission occurred on Dec. 7, 1991, when
the battleship led a contingent of ships into Pearl Harbor as part of the commemoration to
mark the 50th anniversary of the attack that thrust America into World War II.
• Second decommisisoning: In 1992, the Missouri was decommissioned for the second
time. In 1995, it was removed from the Navy’s ship registry, clearing the way for the
battleship to be donated by the Navy for preservation as a memorial museum.
• Her legacy: In August 1996, the Navy selected the non-profit USS Missouri Memorial
Association as caretaker for the battleship and Pearl Harbor as its permanent home. On
May 4, 1998, the Navy made it official, transferring the Mighty Mo’s care to the

USS Missouri BB-63 Fast Facts
• Designing the Missouri took 175 tons of blueprint paper. The ship was built in three years
and required over 3 million man-days to complete the job.
• For comparison’s sake, the Missouri is 279 feet longer and 11 feet wider than the USS
Arizona. The Mighty Mo is also 5 feet longer and 18 feet wider than the RMS Titanic.
• Just how big is the Missouri? If you could stand the ship on end, it would be 332 feet
taller than the Washington Monument.
• The nine 16-inch guns are the Mighty Mo’s trademark feature. Each gun barrel is 65 feet
long, weighs an incredible 116 tons, and can fire a 2,700-pound shell 23 miles in 90
seconds — with pinpoint accuracy.
• The Missouri was the last U.S. battleship ever built. She was also the most formidable.
In addition to her massive firepower capabilities, she possessed thick steel armor plating
that protected the hull (13.5 inches), the gun turrets (17 inches in front; 13 inches on the
sides), the citadel (17 inches), and the conning tower sides (17.3 inches).

Meghan Rathbun onboard the USS Missouri

Meghan Rathbun currently holds the position of Curator for the Battleship Missouri Memorial. She holds two degrees in Medieval History from the University of St Andrews, Scotland and one in Museum Studies from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Prior to joining the Memorial she worked for the Battleship Wisconsin, the Virginia War Museum, and the Virginia Beach History Museums.

Visiting the Battleship Missouri Memorial
The Battleship Missouri Memorial is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. General admission is $29.99 per adult and $13.99 per child (4-12). Military, kama‘āina (local resident) and school group pricing is available. For information or reservations, call (808) 455-1600 or visit
Pearl Harbor Memorial – USS Battleship Missouri Memorial (

Courtesty of the USS Missouri Memorial Associationl : For Immediate Release (

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USS Missouri BB-63