Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeMissouri III (BB-63) 1944-1995

Missouri III (BB-63) 1944-1995

The battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) stands moored to a pier at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Missouri is in Hawaii to take part in the observance of the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) stands moored to a pier at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Missouri is in Hawaii to take part in the observance of the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

The 24th State, admitted to the Union 10 August 1821, Missouri was named for the Missouri River, an Indian name meaning “muddy waters.”


(BB-63: displacement 45,000; length 887’3″; beam 108’2″; draft 28’11”; speed 33 knots; complement 1,921; armament 9 16-inch, 20 5-inch, 80 40 millimeter, 49 20 millimeter; class Iowa)

The third Missouri (BB-63) was laid down on 6 January 1941 at Brooklyn, N.Y., by the New York Navy Yard; launched on 29 January 1944; sponsored by Miss Margaret Truman, daughter of then-Senator from Missouri Harry S Truman; and commissioned on 11 June 1944, Capt. William M. Callaghan in command.

After trials off New York and shakedown and battle practice in Chesapeake Bay, Missouri departed Norfolk on 11 November 1944, transited the Panama Canal on 18 November and steamed to San Francisco for final fitting out as fleet flagship. She stood out of San Francisco Bay on 14 December and arrived at Ulithi, Western Caroline Islands, on 13 January 1945. There she was temporary headquarters ship for Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher. The battleship put to sea on 27 January to serve in the screen of the Lexington (CV-16) carrier task group of Vice Adm. Mitscher’s Task Force (TF) 58, and on 16 February her flattops launched the first air strikes against Japan since the Halsey-Doolittle raid launched from the carrier Hornet (CV-8) in April 1942.

Missouri then steamed with the carriers to Iwo Jima where her 16-inch guns provided direct and continuous support to the invasion landings begun on 19 February 1945. After TF 58 returned to Ulithi on 5 March, Missouri was assigned to the Yorktown (CV-10) carrier task group. On 14 March Missouri departed Ulithi in the screen of the fast carriers and steamed to the Japanese mainland. During strikes against targets along the coast of the Inland Sea of Japan beginning on 18 March, Missouri helped splash four Japanese aircraft.

Raids against airfields and naval bases near the Inland Sea and southwestern Honshu continued, provoking a savage response by Japanese aircraft. While carrier Wasp (CV-18), crashed by an enemy suicide plane on 19 March 1945, resumed flight operations within an hour, a separate attack penetrated Franklin (CV-13)’s hangar deck with two bombs, setting off explosions that left the warship dead in the water a mere 50 miles of the Japanese mainland. Heavy cruiser Pittsburgh (CA-72) took Franklin in tow until she gained speed to 14 knots. Missouri‘s carrier task group provided cover for Franklin‘s retirement toward Ulithi until 22 March, then set course for pre-invasion strikes and bombardment of Okinawa.

Missouri joined the fast battleships of TF 58 in bombarding the southeast coast of Okinawa on 24 March 1945, an action intended to draw enemy strength from the west coast beaches that would be the actual site of invasion landings. Missouri rejoined the screen of the carriers as USMC and U.S. Army troops landed on the morning of 1 April. Following a sortie by a Japanese surface force led by battleship Yamato, carrier aircraft sank Yamato, a cruiser and four destroyers. Four remaining destroyers, sole survivors of the attacking fleet, damaged, retired to Sasebo.

On 11 April 1945, Missouri opened fire on a low flying suicide plane that penetrated the curtain of her shells to crash just below her main deck level. The starboard wing of the plane was thrown far forward, starting a gasoline fire at 5 inch mount No. 3. Yet the battleship suffered only superficial damage, and the fire was brought quickly under control.

About 2305 on 17 April 1945, Missouri detected an enemy submarine 12 miles from her formation. Her report set off a hunter killer operation by small carrier Bataan (CVL-29) and four destroyers that hunted down and sank Japanese submarine I 56.

Missouri was detached from the carrier task force off Okinawa 5 May 1945 and sailed for Ulithi. During the Okinawa campaign she had shot down five enemy planes, assisted in the destruction of six others, and scored one probable kill. She helped repel 12 daylight attacks of enemy raiders and fought off four night attacks on her carrier task group. Her shore bombardment destroyed several gun emplacements and many other military, governmental, and industrial structures.

Missouri arrived Ulithi on 9 May 1945 and thence proceeded to Apra Harbor, Guam, on 18 May. That afternoon Adm. William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander 3d Fleet, broke his flag in Missouri. She passed out of the harbor 21 May, and by 27 May was again conducting shore bombardment against Japanese positions on Okinawa. Missouri now led the 3d Fleet in strikes on airfields and installations on Kyushu on 2 and 3 June, then rode out a typhoon on 5 and 6 June that wrenched off the bow of heavy cruiser Pittsburgh (CA-72). Some topside fittings were smashed, but Missouri suffered no major damage. Her task force again struck Kyushu 8 June, then hit hard in a coordinated air surface bombardment before retiring towards Leyte. She reached San Pedro, Leyte, on 13 June, after almost three months of continuous operations in support of the Okinawa campaign.

There, she prepared to lead the 3d Fleet in strikes at the heart of Japan from within its home waters. The task force set a northerly course on 8 July 1945 to approach the Japanese mainland. Raids took Tokyo by surprise 10 July, followed by more devastation at the Juncture of Honshu and Hokkaido 13 and 14 July. For the first time, a naval gunfire force wrought destruction on a major installation within the home islands when Missouri closed the shore to join in a bombardment 15 July that damaged the Nihon Steel Co. and the Wanishi Ironworks at Muroran, Hokkaido.

During the night of 17 18 July 1945, Missouri bombarded industrial targets in the Hichiti area, Honshu. Inland Sea aerial strikes continued through 25 July, and Missouri guarded the carriers as they struck hard blows at the Japanese capital. Strikes on Hokkaido and northern Honshu resumed on 9 August, the day the second atomic bomb was dropped. Next day, at 2054, Missouri‘s men were electrified by the unofficial news that Japan was ready to surrender, provided that the Emperor’s prerogatives as a sovereign ruler were not compromised. Not until 0745 on 15 August, was word received that President Truman had announced Japan’s acceptance of unconditional surrender.

Adm. Sir Bruce Fraser, RN (Commander, British Pacific Fleet) boarded Missouri on 16 August 1945, and conferred the order Knight of the British Empire upon Adm. Halsey. Missouri then transferred a landing party of 200 officers and men to battleship Iowa for temporary duty with the initial occupation force for Tokyo 21 August. Missouri herself entered Tokyo Bay early 29 August to prepare for the normal surrender ceremony.

High ranking military officials of all the Allied Powers were received on board 2 September 1945. Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz came on board shortly after 0800, and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (Supreme Commander for the Allies) came on board at 0843. The Japanese representatives, headed by Foreign Minister Shigemitsu Mamoru, arrived at 0856. At 0902 General MacArthur stepped before a battery of microphones and the 23 minute surrender ceremony was broadcast to the waiting world. By 0930 the Japanese emissaries had departed.

The afternoon of 5 September 1945, Adm. Halsey transferred his flag to battleship South Dakota (BB-57). Early next day Missouri departed Tokyo Bay to receive homeward bound passengers at Guam, thence sailed unescorted for Hawaii. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 20 September and flew Admiral Nimitz’ flag on the afternoon of 28 September for a reception. The next day, Missouri departed Pearl Harbor bound for the eastern seaboard of the United States. She reached New York City on 23 October and broke the flag of Adm. Jonas Ingram, Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Missouri boomed out a 21 gun salute on 27 October as President Truman came on board for Navy day ceremonies. In his address the President stated that “control of our sea approaches and of the skies above them is still the key to our freedom and to our ability to help enforce the peace of the world.”

After overhaul in the New York Naval Shipyard and a training cruise to Cuba, Missouri returned to New York. On the afternoon of 21 March 1946, she received the remains of the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Melmet Munir Ertegun. She departed on 22 March for Gibraltar and on 5 April anchored in the Bosporus off Istanbul. She rendered full honors, including the firing of a 19 gun salute during both the transfer of the remains of the late Ambassador and the funeral ashore.

Missouri departed Istanbul on 9 April 1946 and entered Phaleron Bay, Piraeus, Greece, the following day for an overwhelming welcome by Greek government officials and people. She had arrived in a year when there were ominous Soviet activities in the entire Balkan area. Greece had become the scene of a communist inspired civil war, as Russia sought every possible extension of Soviet influence throughout the Mediterranean region. Demands were made that Turkey grant the Soviets a base of seapower in the Dodecanese Islands and joint control of the Turkish Straits leading from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. The voyage of Missouri to the eastern Mediterranean gave comfort to both Greece and Turkey. News media proclaimed her a symbol of U.S. interest in preserving Greek and Turkish liberty. With an August decision to deploy a strong fleet to the Mediterranean, it became obvious that the United States intended to use her naval sea and air power to stand firm against the tide of Soviet subversion.

Missouri departed Piraeus 26 April 1946, touching at Algiers and Tangiers before arriving Norfolk 9 May. She departed for Culebra Island 12 May to join Admiral Mitscher’s 8th Fleet in the Navy’s first large scale postwar Atlantic training maneuvers. The battleship returned to New York City on 27 May, and spent the next year steaming Atlantic coastal waters north to the Davis Straits and south to the Caribbean on various Atlantic command training exercises.

Missouri arrived at Rio de Janeiro on 30 August 1947 for the Inter American Conference for the Maintenance of Hemisphere Peace and Security. President Truman boarded on 2 September to celebrate the signing of the Rio Treaty which broadened the Monroe Doctrine, stipulating that an attack on one of the signatory American States would be considered an attack on all. The Truman family boarded Missouri on 7 September to return to the United States and disembarked at Norfolk on 19 September. Overhaul in New York (23 September 1947-10 March 1948) was followed by refresher training at Guantanamo Bay. Summer of 1948 was devoted to midshipman and reserve training cruises. The battleship departed Norfolk in November for a second three week Arctic cold weather training cruise to the Davis Straits. Over the next two years, Missouri participated in Atlantic command exercises ranging from the New England coast to the Caribbean, alternated with two midshipman summer training cruises. She was overhauled at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard between 23 September 1949 and 17 January 1950.

Now the only U.S. battleship in commission, Missouri was proceeding seaward on a training mission from Hampton Roads early on 17 January 1950 when she ran aground at a point 1.6 miles from Thimble Shoals Light, near Old Point Comfort. She traversed shoal water a distance of three ship lengths from the main channel. Lifted some 7 feet above waterline, she stuck hard and fast. With the aid of tugs, pontoons, and an incoming tide, she was refloated on 1 February.

From mid February until 15 August 1950, Missouri conducted midshipman and reserve training cruises out of Norfolk. She departed Norfolk on 19 August to support U.N. forces in their fight against Communist aggression in Korea. Missouri joined the U.N. just west of Kyushu 14 September, becoming flagship of Rear Adm. A. E. Smith. The first American battleship to reach Korean waters, she bombarded Samchok on 15 September in a diversionary move coordinated with the Inchon landings. In company with heavy cruiser Helena (CA-75) and two destroyers, she helped prepare the way for the 8th Army offensive.

Missouri arrived off Inchon on 19 September 1950, and 10 October became flagship of Rear Adm. J. M. Higgins, commander, Cruiser Division 5. She arrived at Sasebo on 14 October, where she became flagship of Vice Adm. A. D. Struble, Commander, 7th Fleet. After screening carrier Valley Forge (CV-45) along the east coast of Korea, she conducted bombardment missions 12 to 26 October in the Chonjin and Tanchon areas, and at Wonsan. After again screening carriers eastward of Wonsan she moved into the waters off Hungnam on 23 December to provide gunfire support about the Hungnam defense perimeter until the last U.N. troops, the U.S. 3d Infantry Division, were evacuated by way of the sea on Christmas Eve.

Missouri conducted additional operations with carriers and systematic shore bombardments off the east coast of Korea until 19 March 1951. She arrived at Yokosuka on 24 March, and 4 days later was relieved of duty in the Far East. She departed Yokosuka 28 March, and upon arrival Norfolk 27 April became flagship of Rear Adm. J. L. Holloway, Jr., commander, Cruiser Force, Atlantic Fleet. During the summer of 1951, she engaged in two midshipman training cruises to northern Europe. Missouri entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on 18 October for overhaul that lasted until 30 January 1952.

Following winter and spring training out of Guantanamo Bay, Missouri visited New York, then set course from Norfolk 9 June 1952 for another midshipman cruise. She returned to Norfolk on 4 August and entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to prepare for a second tour in the Korean Combat Zone.

Missouri stood out of Hampton Roads on 11 September 1952 and arrived at Yokosuka on 17 October, where she broke the flag of Vice Adm. J. J. Clark, commander of the 7th Fleet, on 19 October. Her primary mission was to provide seagoing artillery support by bombarding enemy targets in the Chaho Tanchon area, at Chongjin, in the Tanchon Sonjin area, and at Chaho, Wonsan, Hamhung, and Hungnam during the period between 25 October 1952 and 2 January 1953.

Missouri put in to Inchon on 5 January 1953 and sailed thence to Sasebo, Japan. Gen. Mark Clark, Commander in Chief, U.N. Command, and Adm. Sir Guy Russell, RN, commander of the British Far East Station, visited the battleship on 23 January. In the following weeks, Missouri resumed “Cobra” patrol along the east coast of Korea in direct support of troops ashore. Repeated strikes against Wonsan, Tanchon, Hungnam, and Kojo destroyed main supply routes along the eastern seaboard.

The last gunstrike mission by Missouri was against the Kojo area on 25 March 1953. She sustained a grievous casualty on 26 March, when Capt. Warner R. Edsall, her commanding officer, suffered a fatal heart attack while conning her through the submarine net at Sasebo. She was relieved as 7th Fleet flagship on 6 April by sister ship New Jersey (BB-62).

Missouri departed Yokosuka on 7 April 1953 and arrived at Norfolk on 4 May, to become flagship for Rear Adm. E. T. Woolridge, commander, Battleships Cruisers, Atlantic Fleet, on 14 May. She departed on 8 June on a midshipman training cruise, returned to Norfolk on 4 August, and was overhauled in Norfolk Naval Shipyard between 20 November 1953 and 2 April 1954.

The flagship of Rear Adm. R. E. Kirby, who had relieved Admiral Woolridge, Missouri departed Norfolk on 7 June 1954 as flagship of the midshipman training cruise to Lisbon and Cherbourg. She returned to Norfolk on 3 August and departed on the 23d for inactivation on the west coast. After calling at Long Beach and San Francisco, Missouri arrived at Seattle on 15 September. Three days later she entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where she decommissioned 26 February 1955, entering the Bremerton Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet. The battleship remained in reserve for the next thirty years, visited by 100,000 people on an annual basis.

As the Cold War heated up in the 1980s, however, the battleship received a new lease on life and was modernized and recommissioned at San Francisco on 10 May 1986, Capt. Albert L. Kaiss in command.

Activated as part of the Navy’s new Maritime Strategy, which was intended to send offense-oriented aircraft carrier and battleship task groups into Soviet waters in the event of a future global conflict, Missouri conducted refresher and fleet operations training until departing 10 September for a circumnavigation of the world, the first voyage by an American battleship since the Great White Fleet of 1907-09. Following a stop at Pearl Harbor, she visited Sydney, Hobart, Albany and Fremantle, Australia, in October before sailing on to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The battleship then transited the Suez Canal on 7 November and sailed north to Istanbul, Turkey, arriving there on 11 November to mark the 40th anniversary of her previous trip to that city in 1947. The battleship then made diplomatic port visits at Naples, Italy; Palma, Spain; and Lisbon, Portugal; before crossing the Atlantic in early December. She transited the Panama Canal on the 10th and arrived home in Long Beach on 19 December.

Following local operations and battle group training in early 1987, the battleship got underway on 25 July for a western Pacific and Indian Ocean deployment. She stopped at Subic Bay in the Philippines before conducting an exercise with Singapore Navy units in mid-August. Transiting the Strait of Malacca on 25-26 August, Missouri sailed to the north Arabian Sea for operations with the Ranger (CV-61) Battle Group. The battleship operated in support of tanker convoy operations in the region for the next three months, pausing only for short port visits for maintenance at Masirah, Oman. After turnover on 24 November, Missouri steamed home via Diego Garcia, Fremantle, Sydney and Pearl Harbor, arriving at Long Beach on 19 January 1988.

In early March 1988, the battleship visited Vancouver, British Columbia, before shifting south to San Diego for gunnery, cruise missile and other war at sea evolutions. The crew also conducted the first Tomahawk cruise missile launch from the battleship on 25 May. Missouri then participated in Rim Pac’88, a large 40-ship multi-national exercise in Hawaiian waters in July, before spending the rest of the year conducting various inspections and readiness exercises out of Long Beach. After a dry dock maintenance period between February and April 1989, the battleship prepared for another deployment, and departed California for the western Pacific on 18 September. After a voyage north to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, the battleship dropped down for exercises in Japanese and Korean waters, visiting the port of Pusan 21-25 October before returning home on 9 November. The warship then conducted a short cruise to Mazatlan, Mexico, in early December.

Missouri‘s next major operation took place in March 1990, when she steamed to Hawaii on the 27th to take part in Rim Pac’90, remaining in Hawaiian waters until returning home on 23 May. After local operations during the summer, and the news that Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi Army had invaded Kuwait in August, the battleship’s crew conducted security drills, installed more point defense weapons and began preparations for a Persian Gulf deployment, including familiarizing the crew with a newly embarked remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) drone.

Underway on 13 November 1990, the battleship conducted intensive training in between stops at Pearl Harbor, Subic Bay and a liberty port visit to Pattaya Beach, Thailand, before transiting the Strait of Hormuz on 3 January 1991. During subsequent operations leading up to Operation Desert Storm, Missouri prepared to launch Tomahawk missiles and provide on-call naval gunfire support. She fired her first Tomahawk missile at Iraqi targets at 0140 on 17 January, followed by 27 additional missiles over the next five days. In addition, the battleship bombarded Iraqi beach defenses in occupied Kuwait on the night of 3 February, firing 112 16-inch rounds over the next three days until relieved by sister ship Wisconsin (BB-64). Missouri then fired another 60 rounds off Khafji on 11-12 February before steaming north to near Faylaka Island. After minesweepers cleared a lane through Iraqi defenses, Missouri fired 133 rounds during four shore bombardment missions as part of the amphibious landing feint against the Kuwaiti shore line the morning of 23 February. The heavy pounding attracted Iraqi attention, who fired an HY-2 Silkworm missile at the battleship. The cruise missile was then shot down by GWS-30 Sea Dart missiles launched from the British frigate HMS Gloucester. With combat operations past the reach of the battleship’s guns on the 26th, Missouri conducted patrol and armistice enforcement operations in the northern Persian Gulf until sailing for home on 21 March. Following stops at Fremantle and Hobart, Australia, the warship visited Pearl Harbor before arriving home in April. She spent the remainder of the year conducting type training and other local operations, the latter including the 7 December 1941 “voyage of remembrance” to mark the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. During that ceremony, Missouri hosted President George H. W. Bush, the first such presidential visit for the warship since Harry Truman boarded the battleship in September 1947.

After returning to Long Beach on 20 December 1991, the battleship’s crew began the long process of deactivating her. Missouri was decommissioned on 31 March 1992 and was laid up as part of the inactive fleet at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington. She remained part of the reserve fleet until 12 January 1995 when she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. Donated as a museum and memorial ship on 4 May 1998, she was later transferred to Pearl Harbor where the old battleship rests near the Arizona (BB-39) Memorial and is open for tours by the public.

Missouri received three battle stars for her service in World War II that included the Assault and Occupation of Iwo Jima (15-16 February 1945, 15 February-4 March 1945, 25 February 1945, and 1 March 1945), Third Fleet Raids against Japan and the Nansei Shoto (16 March-11 June 1945), the Third and Fifth Fleet Raids in support of the Assault and Occupation of the Okinawa Gunto Operation (17 March-11 June 1945); and Third Fleet Operations against Japan (10 July-15 August 1945) and five for her service during the Korean Conflict that included North Korean Aggression (14 September-1 November 1950), Communist China Aggression (5 November 1950-24 January 1951), First United Nations Counteroffensive (28 January-22 March 1951), Korean Defense (23-29 October and 31 October-30 November 1952) and Third Korean Winter (1 December 1952-25 March 1953). In addition, she received two Combat Action Ribbons (Desert Storm, 17 January-28 February 1991, and 25 February 1991), two Navy Unit Commendations (Desert Storm, 17 January-7 February 1991), a Meritorious Unit Commendation (10 May 1986-19 January 1988), three Navy “E” Ribbons (1 July 1986-31 December 1987, 1 January 1988-30 June 1989, and 1 July 1989-31 December 1990), two Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals (Persian Gulf, 1 September-24 November 1987), and one Southwest Asia Service Medal (1 January-24 March 1991).

USS Missouri (BB-63) tied up at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
A rainbow highlights the sky in the background as the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) lies tied up at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Missouri is in Hawaii to take part in the observance of the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.




Most Popular