Category Archives: Military

USS Midway

USS Midway (CVB/CVA/CV-41) was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class. Commissioned a week after the end of World War II, the Midway was the largest ship in the world until 1955, as well as the first U.S. warship too big to transit the Panama Canal. A revolutionary hull design, based on the planned Montana-class battleship, gave her better maneuverability than previous carriers. She served for an unprecedented 47 years, saw action in the Vietnam War, and was the Persian Gulf flagship in 1991’s Operation Desert Storm. Decommissioned in 1992, she is now a museum ship at the USS Midway Museum, in San Diego, California, and the only remaining U.S. aircraft carrier of the World War II era that is not an Essex-class aircraft carrier.


Early operations and deployment with the 6th Fleet

Midway was laid down 27 October 1943 by Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Virginia. She was launched 20 March 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Bradford William Ripley, Jr.; and commissioned 10 September 1945, Captain Joseph F. Bolger in command.

After shakedown in the Caribbean, Midway joined the U.S. Atlantic Fleet training schedule, with Norfolk her homeport. From 20 February 1946, she was flagship for Carrier Division 1. In March, she tested equipment and techniques for cold-weather operations in the North Atlantic. In September 1947, a captured German V-2 rocket was test-fired from the flight deck in Operation Sandy, the first such launch from a moving platform.

On 29 October 1947, Midway sailed for the first of her annual deployments with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Between deployments, Midway trained and received alterations to accommodate heavier aircraft as they were developed.

In June 1951, Midway operated in the Atlantic off the Virginia Capes during carrier suitability tests of the F9F-5 Panther. On 23 June, as Cdr. George Chamberlain Duncan attempted a landing in BuNo 125228, a downdraft just aft of the stern caused Duncan to crash. His plane’s forward fuselage broke away and rolled down the deck, and he suffered burns. Footage of the crash has been used in several films, including Men of the Fighting Lady, Midway, and The Hunt for Red October.[2]

In 1952, the ship participated in Operation Mainbrace, North Sea maneuvers with NATO forces. On 1 October, the ship was redesignated CVA-41.

Midway cleared Norfolk 27 December 1954 for a world cruise, sailing via the Cape of Good Hope for Taiwan, where she joined the 7th Fleet for operations in the Western Pacific until 28 June 1955. During these operations, Midway pilots flew cover for the evacuation from the Quemoy-Matsu crisis [3] from the Tachen Islands of 15,000 Chinese nationalist troops and 20,000 Chinese civilians, along with their pigs, cows and chickens. On 28 June 1955, she sailed for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where she underwent an extensive modernization program (SCB-110, similar to SCB-125 for the Essex-class carriers). Midway received an enclosed hurricane bow, an aft deck-edge elevator, an angled flight deck, and steam catapults. She was returned to service on 30 September 1957.

Home ported at Alameda, California, Midway began annual deployments with the 7th Fleet in 1958, and in the South China Sea during the Laotian Crisis of spring 1961. During her 1962 deployment, her aircraft tested the air defense systems of Japan, Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Taiwan. She again sailed for the Far East 6 March 1965, and from mid-April flew strikes against military and logistics installations in North and South Vietnam.

Returning to Alameda on 23 November, Midway entered San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard on 11 February 1966 for a massive modernization (SCB-101.66), which proved expensive and controversial. The flight deck was enlarged from 2.8 to 4 acres (11,300 to 16,200 m²), and the angle of the flight deck landing area was increased to 13.5 degrees. The elevators were enlarged, moved, and given almost double the weight capacity. Midway also received new catapults, arresting gear, and a centralized air conditioning plant. Cost overruns raised the price of this program from $88 million to $202 million, and precluded a similar modernization planned for Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42). After Midway was finally recommissioned on 31 January 1970, it was found that the modifications had hurt the ship’s seakeeping capabilities and ability to conduct air operations in rough seas, which required further modifications to correct the problem.

Air-to-air kills in Vietnam

Midway after commissioning in September 1945

Midway in 1963 after SCB-110

On 17 June 1965, aviators of Midway’s Attack Carrier Wing 2 downed the first four MiGs credited to U.S. forces in Southeast Asia. On 12 January 1973, Lieutenants V. T. Kovaleski (pilot) and J. A. Wise (RIO) of the VF-161 Chargers made the last air-to-air kill of the Vietnam War, downing a North Vietnamese MiG-17 with an AIM-9 Sidewinder launched from their F-4B Phantom II.

A return to Vietnam

Midway returned to Vietnam and on 18 May 1971, after relieving Hancock (CV-19) on Yankee Station, began single carrier operations. She departed Yankee Station on 5 June, completed her final line period on 31 October, and returned to her homeport on 6 November.

Midway, with embarked Carrier Air Wing 5 (CVW 5), again departed Alameda for operations off Vietnam on 10 April 1972. On 11 May, aircraft from Midway along with those from Coral Sea (CV-43), Kitty Hawk (CV-63), and Constellation (CV-64) continued laying naval mines off North Vietnamese ports, including Thanh Hoa, Dong Hoi, Vinh, Hon Gai, Quang Khe and Cam Pha as well as other approaches to Haiphong. Ships that were in port in Haiphong had been advised that the mining would take place and that the mines would be armed 72 hours later.

Midway continued Vietnam operations throughout the summer of 1972. On 7 August 1972, an HC-7 Det 110 helicopter, flying from Midway, and aided by planes from the carrier and from Saratoga, searched for the pilot of an A-7 Corsair II aircraft from Saratoga, who had been downed the previous day by a surface-to-air missile about 20 miles (32 kilometres) inland, northwest of Vinh. Flying over mountains, the HC-7 helo spotted the downed aviator with its searchlight and, under heavy ground fire, retrieved him and returned to an LPD off the coast. This was the deepest penetration of a rescue helicopter into North Vietnam since 1968. By the end of 1972, HC-7 Det 110 had rescued 48 pilots, 35 in combat conditions.

On 5 October 1973, Midway, with CVW 5, put into Yokosuka, Japan, marking the first forward-deployment of a complete carrier task group in a Japanese port, the result of an accord arrived at on 31 August 1972 between the U.S. and Japan. The move allowed sailors to live with their families when in port; more strategically, it allowed three carriers to stay in the Far East even as the economic situation demanded the reduction of carriers in the fleet.

For her service in Vietnam from 30 April 1972, to 9 February 1973, the USS MIDWAY (CVA-41) / ATTACK CARRIER AIR WING FIVE (CVW-5) received the Presidential Unit Citation from Richard Nixon. It read:

“By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States and as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I have today awarded


For extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in action against enemy forces in Southeast Asia from 30 April 1972 to 9 February 1973. During this crucial period of the Vietnam conflict, USS MIDWAY and embarked Attack Carrier Air Wing FIVE carried out devastating aerial attacks against enemy installations, transportation, and lines of communications in the face of extremely heavy opposition including multi-calibre antiaircraft artillery fire and surface-to-air missiles. Displaying superb airmanship and unwavering courage, MIDWAY/CVW-5 pilots played a significant role in lifting the prolonged sieges at An Loc, Kontum, and Quang Tri and in carrying out the concentrated aerial strikes against the enemy’s industrial heartland which eventually resulted in a cease-fire. By their excellent teamwork, dedication, and sustained superior performance, the officers and men of MIDWAY and Attack Carrier Air Wing FIVE reflected great credit upon themselves and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” – Signed Richard Nixon.


Operation Frequent Wind

A South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) UH-1H is pushed overboard to make room for Major Buang to land his Cessna O-1.

Major Buang’s O-1 touching down.

Major Buang’s O-1 after landing aboard Midway during Operation Frequent Wind. Also, two of the deck crews are seen clapping their hands in joy.

Midway, Coral Sea (CV-43), Hancock (CV-19), Enterprise (CVN-65) and Okinawa (LPH-3) responded 19 April 1975 to the waters off South Vietnam when North Vietnam overran two-thirds of South Vietnam. Ten days later, Operation Frequent Wind was carried out by U.S. 7th Fleet forces. During this operation, Midway had offloaded fifty percent of her regular combat air wing at NS Subic Bay, Philippines. She steamed to Thailand, whereupon eight CH-53 from 21st Special Operations Squadron and two HH-53 helicopters from 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron[5] were loaded for the purpose of ferrying people from Saigon out to the fleet cruising in the South China Sea. Hundreds of U.S. personnel and Vietnamese were evacuated to waiting ships after the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese.

On 29 April 1975, South Vietnamese Air Force Major Buang-Ly loaded his wife and five children into a two-seat Cessna O-1 Bird Dog and took off from Con Son Island. After evading enemy ground fire Major Buang headed out to sea and spotted the Midway. The Midway’s crew attempted to contact the aircraft on emergency frequencies but the pilot continued to circle overhead with his landing lights turned on. When a spotter reported that there were at least four people in the two-place aircraft, all thoughts of forcing the pilot to ditch alongside were abandoned – it was unlikely the passengers of the overloaded Bird Dog could survive the ditching and safely egress before the plane sank. After three tries, Major Buang managed to drop a note from a low pass over the deck: “Can you move the helicopter to the other side, I can land on your runway, I can fly for one hour more, we have enough time to move. Please rescue me! Major Buang, wife and 5 child.” Captain Larry Chambers, the ship’s commanding officer, ordered that the arresting wires be removed and that any helicopters that could not be safely and quickly be relocated should be pushed over the side. To get the job done he called for volunteers, and soon every available seaman was on deck, regardless of rank or duty, to provide the manpower to get the job done. An esimated US$10 million worth of UH-1 Huey helicopters were pushed overboard into the South China Sea. With a 500-foot ceiling, five miles visibility, light rain, and 15 knots of surface wind, Chambers ordered the ship to make 25 knots into the wind. Warnings about the dangerous downdrafts created behind a steaming carrier were transmitted blind in both Vietnamese and English. To make matters worse, five additional UH-1s landed and cluttered up the deck. Without hesitation, Chambers ordered them scuttled as well. Captain Chambers recalled in an article in the Fall 1993 issue of the national Museum of Aviation History’s “Foundation” magazine that

the aircraft cleared the ramp and touched down on center line at the normal touchdown point. Had he been equipped with a tailhook he could have bagged a number 3 wire. He bounced once and came stop abeam of the island, amid a wildly cheering, arms-waving flight deck crew.

Major Buang was escorted to the bridge where Captain Chambers congratulated him on his outstanding airmanship and his bravery in risking everything on a gamble beyond the point of no return without knowing for certain a carrier would be where he needed it. The crew of the Midway was so impressed that they established a fund to help him and his family get settled in the United States.[6] The Bird Dog that Major Buang landed is now on display at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.[7]

Upon completion of ferrying people to other ships, she returned to Thailand and disembarked the Air Force helicopters. The CH-53s then airlifted over 50 South Vietnamese Air Force aircraft to the ship. With almost 100 helicopters and aircraft of the former South Vietnamese Air Force aboard, she steamed to Guam where the aircraft and helicopters were offloaded in twenty-four hours. On her way back to the Philippines to pick up her air wing she was rerouted to act as a floating airfield in support of special operation forces rescuing a pirated cargo ship (see Mayagüez incident). She picked up her regular air wing again a month later when she returned NAS Cubi Point, Philippines.

After Vietnam

On 21 August 1976, a Navy task force headed by Midway made a show of force off the coast of Korea in response to an unprovoked attack on two U.S. Army officers who were killed by North Korean guards on 18 August. (The U.S. response to this incident was Operation Paul Bunyan). Midway’s response was in support of a U.S. demonstration of military concern vis-à-vis North Korea.

Midway relieved Constellation (CV-64) as the Indian Ocean contingency carrier on 16 April 1979. This unscheduled deployment was due to USS Ranger colliding with tanker Liberian Fortune near the Straits of Malacca, with Midway taking over Ranger’s mission while it went in for repair. Midway and her escort ships continued a significant American naval presence in the oil-producing region of the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. On 18 November, she arrived in the northern part of the Arabian Sea in connection with the continuing hostage crisis in Iran. Militant followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini, who had come to power following the overthrow of the Shah, seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on 4 November and held 63 U.S. citizens hostage. Midway was joined 21 November by Kitty Hawk (CV-63), and both carriers, along with their escort ships, were joined by the Nimitz (CVN-68) and her escorts on 22 January 1980. Midway was relieved by Coral Sea (CV-43) on 5 February.

Missions in the 1980s

Midway at United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka (in 1983)

Following a period in Yokosuka, Midway relieved Coral Sea 30 May 1980 on standby south of the Cheju-Do Islands in the Sea of Japan following the potential of civil unrest in the Republic of Korea. While transiting the passage between Palawan Island of the Philippines and the coast of Northern Borneo on 29 July, Midway collided with the Panamanian merchant ship Cactus. The Cactus was 450 nautical miles (830 km) southwest of Subic Bay and headed to Singapore. The collision occurred near the liquid oxygen plant and two sailors working in the plant were killed and three were injured. Midway sustained light damage and three F-4 Phantom aircraft parked on the flight deck were also damaged.[8] On 17 August, Midway relieved Constellation to begin another Indian Ocean deployment and to complement the Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) task group still on contingency duty in the Arabian Sea. Midway spent a total of 118 days in the Indian Ocean during 1980.

On 16 March 1981, an A-6 Intruder from VA-115 aboard Midway sighted a downed civilian helicopter in the South China Sea. Midway immediately dispatched HC-1 Det 2 helicopters to the scene. All 17 people aboard the downed helicopter were rescued and brought aboard the carrier. The chartered civilian helicopter was also plucked out of the water and lifted to Midway’s flight deck.

Midway continued serving in the western Pacific throughout the 1980s. In order to alleviate persistent seakeeping issues, Midway received hull blisters in 1986. The modification proved unsuccessful, and actually increased the vessel’s instability in high seas.

On 25 March 1986, the final carrier launching of a Navy fleet F-4S Phantom II took place off Midway during flight operations in the East China Sea. The aircraft was manned by pilot Lt. Alan S. “Mullet” Colegrove and radar intercept officer Lt. Gregg “Ichabod” Blankenship of VF-151. Phantoms were being replaced by the new F/A-18 Hornets.

On 30 October 1989 an F/A-18 Hornet aircraft from the Midway mistakenly dropped a 500 pounds (227 kilograms) general-purpose bomb on the deck of Reeves (CG-24) during training exercises in the Indian Ocean, creating a five-foot hole in the bow, sparking small fires, and injuring five sailors. Reeves was 32 miles (51 km) south of Diego Garcia at the time of the incident.[9]

Disaster struck the Midway on 20 June 1990. While conducting routine flight operations approximately 125 nautical miles northeast of Japan, the ship was badly damaged by two onboard explosions. These explosions led to a fire that raged more than ten hours. In addition to damage to the ship’s hull, two crew members were killed and 9 others were wounded;[10] one of the injured later died of his injuries.[11] All 11 crewmen belonged to an elite fire-fighting team known as the Flying Squad. When Midway entered Yokosuka Harbor the next day, 12 Japanese media helicopters flew in circles and hovered about 150 feet above the flight deck. Three bus loads of reporters were waiting on the pier. About 30 minutes after Midway cast its first line, more than 100 international print and electronic journalists charged over the brow to cover the event. The news media made a major issue out of the incident, as it happened amid other military accidents. It was thought that the accident would lead to the ship’s immediate retirement due to her age.

Operation Desert Storm and the 1990s

On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait and U.S. forces moved into Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield to protect that country against invasion by Iraq. On 1 November 1990, Midway was again on station in the North Arabian Sea being the carrier of Battle Force Zulu (which included warships from the US, Australia, and other countries), relieving Independence. On 15 November, she participated in Operation Imminent Thunder, an eight-day combined amphibious landing exercise in northeastern Saudi Arabia which involved about 1,000 U.S. Marines, 16 warships, and more than 1,100 aircraft. Meanwhile, the United Nations set an ultimatum deadline of 15 January 1991 for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.

Operation Desert Storm began the next day, and the Navy launched 228 sorties from Midway and Ranger (CV-61) in the Persian Gulf, from Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) en route to the Gulf, and from John F. Kennedy, Saratoga, and America in the Red Sea. In addition, the Navy launched more than 100 Tomahawk missiles from nine ships in the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. Desert Storm officially ended 27 February, and Midway departed the Persian Gulf on 11 March 1991 and returned to Yokosuka.

In June 1991, she left for her final deployment, this time to the Philippines to take part in Operation Fiery Vigil, which was the evacuation of 20,000 military members including their families from Clark AB, on the island of Luzon, after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. The Midway, along with twenty other U.S. naval ships, ferried the evacuees to the island of Cebu, where they were taken off the ship by helicopter. After taking part in the evacuation, she once again returned to Yokosuka.

A final cruise and then on to life as a museum

10 January 2004, Midway prepares to moor at her final resting place at Navy pier in San Diego where she was to become the largest museum devoted to carriers and naval aviation.
Aerial view of the USS Midway Museum in 2011.

In August 1991, Midway departed Yokosuka and returned to Pearl Harbor. Here, she turned over with Independence which was replacing Midway as the forward-deployed carrier in Yokosuka. Midway then sailed to San Diego where she was decommissioned at Naval Air Station North Island on 11 April 1992 in a ceremony in which the main speaker was Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. She was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 17 March 1997. During the decommissioning process, she was used to film portions of the movie At Sea, a documentary on carrier life shown only at the Navy Museum in Washington, D.C. Both sailors and their families participated in the filming of the homecoming scenes.

On 30 September 2003, Midway began her journey from the Navy Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington, to San Diego, California in preparation for use as a museum and memorial. She was docked at the Charles P. Howard Terminal in Oakland, California, during the first week in October while the construction of her pier in San Diego was completed. Then, on 10 January 2004 the ship was moored at her final location at the Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego, where she was opened to the public on 7 June 2004. In the first year of operation, the museum doubled attendance projections by welcoming 879,281 guests aboard.

On 3 April 2012, it was announced that Midway would be the site of a college basketball game between the Syracuse Orange and the San Diego State Aztecs on 9 November 2012; this game was later postponed to 11 November (Veteran’s Day) due to expected rain. The Orange won the game, 62-49.[12]

Point Loma Naval Base in San Diego


They seem to love their boats here in San Diego.  I discovered that the America’s Cup team came from here and saw a plaque on Dennis Connor.  I thought of the American’s Cup in Australia.

Not only are they into civilian vessels but this is a Navy city and there are many marines stationed here.

I am living near the Point Loma Naval Base.  I’ve sat on the balacony watching aircraft carriers gently but quickly go by.  It is interesting to find myself in the hub of American Military power.  I have to smile I went to Oceanside and that is another Naval Facility.  It is interesting given I am into peace.

I look forward to the time where the power of love overcomes the love of power. 

Here is some information from wikipedia about Point Loma Naval Base.

Located in Point Loma, a neighborhood of San Diego, California, Naval Base Point Loma (NBPL) was established on 1 October 1998 when Navy facilities in the Point Loma area of San Diego were consolidated under Commander, Navy Region Southwest. Naval Base Point Loma consists of seven facilities: Submarine Base, Fleet Antisubmarine Warfare Training Center, Fleet Combat Training Center Pacific, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), SPAWAR Systems Center, the Fleet Intelligence Command Pacific and Naval Consolidated Brig, Miramar. These close-knit commands form a diverse and highly technical hub of naval activity. The on base population is around 22,000 Navy and civilian personnel.


Mission statement

To provide direct day-to-day operation of base support functions and to ensure that the base best serves the Fleet and tenant commands. We are a regional team dedicated to providing the highest level of base operating support and quality of life services for all operating forces and shore activities on Naval Base Point Loma.


In February 1852 President Millard Fillmore set aside the southern portion of Point Loma of about 1,400 acres (6 km2) for military purposes. Subsequently, it was assigned to the U.S. Army and named Fort Rosecrans, after General William Rosecrans, an 1842 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. In 1898 the Army built a coast artillery installation on the site which remained active until 1945, when the University of California Division of War Research and the Navy Radio and Sound Laboratory occupied the site as the Navy Electronics Laboratory (NEL). In 1932, the site of Fort Rosecrans was registered as California Historical Landmark #62.[1]

Aerial view of Naval Base Point Loma

Submarine Group, San Diego was established in 1946, and Submarine Flotilla 1 was activated in 1949. In 1959 Fort Rosecrans was turned over to the U.S. Navy. The Navy Submarine Support Facility was established in November 1963 on 280 acres (1.1 km2) of the land.[2] Bathyscaphe Trieste arrived at NEL in 1958; and modified Bathyscaphe Trieste II was based here from 1965 to 1984.[3] On 27 November 1974 the base was re-designated a shore command, serving assigned submarines, Submarine Group Five, Submarine Squadron Three, Submarine Development Group One, the Submarine Training Facility and later, Submarine Squadron Eleven. On 1 October 1981 the base was designated as Naval Submarine Base.

Starting in April 1995, several commands were decommissioned or their homeports were changed to meet the down-sizing requirements of the Navy. Commands throughout San Diego were regionalized in an effort to provide equal or better base services while managing a reduced budget. The six naval installations on Point Loma were consolidated as Naval Base Point Loma on 1 October 1998.



Homeported submarines

Torpedo Weapons Retrievers

Major commands

  • U.S. Third Fleet
  • Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command – Effective 1 October 2006, COMINEWARCOM (CMWC) and FLTASWCOM were merged and renamed as Naval Mine And Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC). Pending NMAWC Corpus Christi (PLA: NMAWC Corpus Christi TX) relocation associated with BRAC action, NMAWC was multi-sited with the commander and Vice Commander and headquarters in San Diego (PLA: NMAWC San Diego CA). FLTASWCOM DET NORFOLK is renamed NMAWC DET NORFOLK VA (PLA: NMAWC DET Norfolk VA). NMAWC San Diego, in addition to commander NMAWC duties, continues to focus on ASW matters. NMAWC Corpus Christi continues to focus on MIW matters. Additionally, NMAWC Corpus Christi continues to function as the flag officer commanding the deployable mine warfare battle staff, providing technical advice, and conducting mine warfare operations as required; and coordinates the sourcing for the MCMRONS and MIW Triad Forces (AMCM/UMCM/SMCM).[4]
  • Submarine Squadron 11
  • Military Sealift Command, Pacific

Visiting the Maritime Museum in San Diego

I started the day meeting Diane, a former clown. We talked as she drove us to the Maritime Museum in downtown San Diego. She spoke of her experience as a clown and felt it was pretentious. In other words she felt it was pretending and not being real. I told her when I clown I am myself. I suppose reflecting on that there is a degree of acting and playing that you wouldn’t normally do, as society doesn’t give permission. She spoke the good that clowning had done for her husband who had grown in confidence in humour. They were part of a group called Clown Conspiracy who clown as volunteers to raise money for charity.

She was a very interesting lady and told me she had American Indian heritage. Her parents were teachers, her father a Principal. Her grandparents were also lovely people and they had a close family.

I learned that people could join with the tribes and they could be given an Indian name. She herself was an Indian Elder and was to give a name to her relative. Her tribe was not a big tribe but had been resurrected by others who ensured they did not lose their customs. I learned that Indian’s had made money out of Casinos.

I wondered about the African Americans and Australian Indigenous, the fact they look similar made me reflect and that there appears to be greater unhappiness in these groups. I thought of the American Indians and the Australian Aborigines being the first people and that the former did seem more accepted in the US. Although my observation is marginal and I am sure I don’t know much. I thought about class in Australia and the US. I wondered if it was the sense of inequality that was the real source of separation between people. I am not sure.

My friend indicated that she didn’t have her first home until later in life which was unsual. I wondered about housing prices, they seem high her and in Australia. Around $1600 to $2000 per month in Australia for a 2-3 bedroom. Here around $1361-$2000 was the average price of a 2-3 apartment. So not really much different. The wages for low paid workers are much lower here from $12 – $16 per hour. Note it is average not median, not always a good figure to use. It would be interested to look at median prices. I found the minimum wage is $7.25 which makes you wonder how some survive. The median average wage for non professionals in Australia is around $25.50 per hour. In both countries you can assume females earn 80% of the male wage for the same work. I’ve just checked the numbers and they are earning less. So single parents come to mind here and if they are women, earn less. So I sense here that life is actually harder for the average American citizen, even though I sense Australians do pay more across the board. Population of course is another important factor.

We stopped at the Maritime Museum where I got to view the Star of India a famous tall ship that used to take people and traded cargo to Australia and New Zealand. They would be at sea 6 months and some of the issues they faced was fresh food and scurvy, rough seas and illness. I was surprised at how large the boat was and imagined it out at sea. It was well built. Some information about the Star of India as follows:

Star of India is the world’s oldest active sailing ship. She began her life on the stocks at Ramsey Shipyard in the Isle of Man in 1863. Iron ships were experiments of sorts then, with most vessels still being built of wood. Within five months of laying her keel, the ship was launched into her element. She bore the name Euterpe, after the Greek muse of music and poetry.

Euterpe was a full-rigged ship and would remain so until 1901, when the Alaska Packers Association rigged her down to a barque, her present rig. She began her sailing life with two near-disastrous voyages to India. On her first trip she suffered a collision and a mutiny. On her second trip, a cyclone caught Euterpe in the Bay of Bengal, and with her topmasts cut away, she barely made port. Shortly afterward, her first captain died on board and was buried at sea.

After such a hard luck beginning, Euterpe settled down and made four more voyages to India as a cargo ship. In 1871 she was purchased by the Shaw Savill line of London and embarked on a quarter century of hauling emigrants to New Zealand, sometimes also touching Australia, California and Chile. She made 21 circumnavigations in this service, some of them lasting up to a year. It was rugged voyaging, with the little iron ship battling through terrific gales, “laboring and rolling in a most distressing manner,” according to her log.

The life aboard was especially hard on the emigrants cooped up in her ‘tween deck, fed a diet of hardtack and salt junk, subject to mal-de-mer and a host of other ills. It is astonishing that their death rate was so low. They were a tough lot, however, drawn from the working classes of England, Ireland and Scotland, and most went on to prosper in New Zealand. refer

We then walked over to see the USS Surprise. I could see it was a battleship with a line of cannons and hammocks for the sailors. I reflected on how difficult life would be on a battle ship at sea. The quarters were rudimentary and the ship was small and cramped. Here is some information from wikipedia…

USS Surprise (PG-63), the fourth American naval ship of the name, was the British Flower-class corvette HMS Heliotrope loaned to and operated by the United States Navy from 1942-1945 as a Temptress-class patrol gunboat. After World War II she was sold as a merchant vessel and ended her life in the Chinese navy as Lin I.

Surprise sailed from Derry, Northern Ireland on 24 April 1942 to escort a convoy to Boston, Massachusetts. After an overhaul, she proceeded south and for the remainder of 1942 escorted convoys in the Caribbean, principally between Trinidad and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In January 1943, she extended her range into the South Atlantic and, into 1944, performed escort runs between Trinidad and Recife, Brazil.

Surprise then returned to the United States. In May 1944, she returned to the North Atlantic and, until after the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945, rotated between Newfoundland, Greenland, and Iceland convoy runs and weather patrol duty.

Surprise was decommissioned on 20 August 1945 at Chatham, England, returned to the Royal Navy on 26 August, and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 17 September.

We then walked over to look at a Russian Submarine. I have to say I was amazed at how long this sub was, and again, the cramped conditions. Even a woman crawling through the tubes is tight, I wondered at bigger men and how they managed to squeeze from one section to another, what happens in emergency situations. Many would have bumped their heads I reacon. The electronic devices and technology was evident all over the sub, such skills and knowledge would be required to run the ship. I also reflected on being under water for such long periods, how psychologically they handled it being in close confines with other men and so on. Here is some information from wikipedia…

One of a fleet of diesel electric submarines the Soviet Navy called “Project 641,” B-39 was commissioned in the early 1970s and served on active duty for more than 20 years. 300 feet in length and displacing more than 2000 tons, B-39 is among the largest conventionally powered submarines ever built. She was designed to track U.S. and NATO warships throughout the world’s oceans. B-39, assigned to the Soviet Pacific fleet, undoubtedly stalked many of the U.S. Navy’s ships home ported in San Diego. Now, less than 20 years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall signaled the end of the Cold War, she is berthed on San Diego Bay amidst her former adversaries. Soviet Project 641 submarines, classified as “Foxtrot” by NATO, are essentially larger and more powerful versions of German World War II era U-boats. Low-tech but lethal, she carried 24 torpedoes while she was on patrol-some capable of delivering low-yield nuclear warheads. B-39 carried a crew of 78 and could dive to a depth of 985 feet before threatening the integrity of her nickel steel pressure hull. The Soviet and then Russian Federation’s navies deployed these submarines from the mid 1950s through the early 1990s. They played a part in many of the Cold War’s most tense moments including the Cuban Missile Crisis.

After the Maritime Museum we went to Anthony’s Seafood restaurant where I was treated to clam chouder. I had a lovely salad. It was lovely looking out of the restaurant window at the bay. Beyond the bay is the Pacific Ocean.

I looked into the distance and could see Point Loma where I am living. Just up from where I am living is the Point Loma Naval Base. Here is some information about this facility from Wikipedia.

Located in Point Loma, a neighborhood of San Diego, California, Naval Base Point Loma (NBPL) was established on 1 October 1998 when Navy facilities in the Point Loma area of San Diego were consolidated under Commander, Navy Region Southwest. Naval Base Point Loma consists of seven facilities: Submarine Base, Fleet Antisubmarine Warfare Training Center, Fleet Combat Training Center Pacific, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), SPAWAR Systems Center, the Fleet Intelligence Command Pacific and Naval Consolidated Brig, Miramar. These close-knit commands form a diverse and highly technical hub of naval activity. The on base population is around 22,000 Navy and civilian personnel.

Hawaii: WWII Fortifications On O’ahu

World War II fortifications still present on O’ahu

• Anatomy of Battery 405
• Fortifications on O’ahu

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Gary Weller, president of Iron Mountain Inc., shines a flashlight inside Battery 405, one of many World War II fortifications still present on O’ahu.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

O’ahu has so many hidden military bunkers that even its pineapple fields can’t be taken at face value.

The buildup began shortly after the turn of the century and continued through World War II, with Army engineers busily tunneling through volcanic rises, building underground command posts, and transforming oceanfront flats into fortified ramparts.

The island bristled with coastal batteries guarding against battleship attacks on Pearl and Honolulu harbors that never came. The biggest guns could fire 16-inch, 2,340-pound shells over the horizon.

Their legacy is now tons of leftover reinforced concrete and steel, some on public and military property, some on private property, the whereabouts of some still classified, and much of it too massive to be moved.

“I suspect that if you were to use the term ‘Gibraltar of the Pacific,’ you could get away with that without much argument,” historian William Gaines said. “At the end of World War II, O’ahu was probably the most heavily armored island in the world.”

Now better known for surf and sand, O’ahu’s hard edges aren’t too far below the surface.

The Kunia Regional Signals Intelligence Operations Center, with three floors, each the size of a football field, lies hidden beneath pineapple fields near Wheeler Army Airfield. Built after the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack for aircraft assembly and repair, it is now an intelligence receiving hub for the National Security Agency.

The old coastal defense batteries and fire control stations dotting island hilltops are easier to spot. Kama’aina have clambered in and around them for years. The Battery Randolph at Fort DeRussy, circa 1911, resolutely anchors one end of Waikiki while Diamond Head fortifications anchor the other. The U.S. Army Museum of Hawai’i occupies Randolph.

Before going bankrupt, a contractor in 1969 succeeded in demolishing the fort’s Battery Dudley, but got no further than the parapets at Randolph, with its 15-foot-thick seaside walls.

“Legend has it that the wrecking ball collapsed first. I wouldn’t be too surprised,” said Dorian Travers, of the Army Museum.

There are far more batteries and bunkers out there than meet the eye. Many who have had access to them discover inside them more than an echo and moldy interior.

“We’re surprised every day. We find more and more,” said John Bennett, a retired city prosecutor’s investigator and member of the Coast Defense Study Group.

The military controlled one-third of O’ahu during the war years, and one Army official said there are probably 300 tunnels.

Sandii Kamaunu, owner of Military HQ on Sand Island Access Road, several years ago bought up a Civil Defense field hospital stored and long forgotten since the early to mid-1950s in a World War II gun battery in Kailua. She was flabbergasted by what she found.

The cache included hundreds of sealed crates. There were 200 cots and 200 wool blankets, splints, blood transfusion kits, porcelain bed pans and urinals, and vials of dried-up potassium penicillin crystalline for shots that Kamaunu says were given with “horse needles that hurt like hell.” Some of the items bore 1940s dates.

All were like new, in the box, directions included.

Wayne Jones, the acting director of the O’ahu Civil Defense Agency, remembers inspecting the supplies.

“There was an old dentist’s chair up there if I remember correctly, an old operating table — all stainless steel — but of no use to us,” Jones said.

For decades, Ron Deisseroth and his mushroom business co-existed with the field hospital in twin 155-foot-deep bunkers, a spot that suited both. Sheltered beneath at least 200 feet of earth at the deepest point, Battery 405 — with kitchen, infirmary and bunks — originally supported two MK VI 8-inch Navy guns. Five similar batteries were built around the island. A facade meant to look like a two-story home — intended to throw off would-be invaders — once camouflaged the tunnel’s entrance.

Deisseroth, who grew mushrooms from 1950 to about 1992, remembers schoolchildren trooping up the hill for a disaster preparedness drill.

“I guess they wanted them to know where to go in case of an attack,” said the O’ahu man, who leased the property from Kane’ohe Ranch.

When Deisseroth lost his lease, he had to clear out the bunker. That meant everything — including the locked-up field hospital. He called the Army and O’ahu Civil Defense.

“I tried to contact everyone, and nobody had any claim on it,” he said. So he hired a locksmith to open the steel door and sold the contents to Military HQ for about $6,000.

Kamaunu has sold about 150 cots, and a couple of porcelain urinals on eBay she jokingly listed as MASH “beer steins.” General Electric offered her $300 for an operating lamp light bulb, she said. But the surplus store owner is really looking for a museum to buy it up in bulk.

“It’s like opening a time capsule,” she said. “It’s nice to be part of it.”

Gary Weller has plans to use Battery 405 for archival, digital and backup storage for his company, Iron Mountain Inc.

The field hospital was an unusual find, and most old unsecured bunkers were cleared out or rifled through years ago. Most guns, meanwhile, were cut up for scrap. But the bunkers remain full of historical value.

Not widely known is that both of the USS Arizona’s big stern turrets with triple 14-inch guns were salvaged. One was placed at Kahe Point and called Battery Arizona. The other went to Mokapu Point.

Gaines, a retired archivist and librarian professor at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill. and an expert on O’ahu coastal defenses, said vandals got into Battery Arizona in the late 1960s and started a fire in a power generating room, which also was used to store Civil Defense supplies. After that the bunker was abandoned.

The Hawai’i Army National Guard, which still uses part of old Fort Ruger at Diamond Head, estimates that publicly accessible portions represents just 25 percent of the battery and tunnel complexes there.

Construction on Fort Ruger began in 1906, with Battery Harlow completed in 1910. Its plotting room, not often seen by the public, has a pre-World War I mechanical data transmission system for mortars that were capable of lobbing 12-inch shells high over Diamond Head and out to sea.

The defense boom had its impetus prior to the turn of the century with countries like Germany, Russia, France and England eyeing Hawai’i, the Army museum’s Travers said.

Brig. Gen. Montgomery M. Macomb, commander of the Army’s District of Hawaii, said in 1911 that “O’ahu is to be encircled with a ring of steel.”

Fort Kamehameha, now part of Hickam Air Force Base, was part of that fortification. Fort Barrette, in Kapolei, followed in the 1930s. During World War II the military engaged in another big building wave, adding radar operations tunnels, ammo storage depots and underground command posts. The Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility, completed in 1943, includes enormous fuel tanks and seven miles of tunnels.

“These guys were absolutely sure the Japanese invasion fleet was coming over the horizon for months after Dec. 7 (1941),” Gaines said.

An old battery remains at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, but Gaines said guns were never installed “because the war moved so fast, and by 1944, there was not much chance of the Japanese fleet showing up on the coast of O’ahu.”

The twin tunnels, whose makai openings are obscured by vegetation, are used for storage.

One tunnel complex was put up for sale by the General Services Administration more than a decade ago, historians say. The bunker complex beneath Aliamanu crater, including 500- and 600-foot tunnels and at least 20 rooms, was used at the end of the war by the Hawaiian Sea Frontier command.

But the bunker never sold, and today the warren of rooms lie sealed and loaded with pesticide, another of O’ahu’s catacombs from a bygone era.

Reach William Cole at or 525-5459.

The Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center[1] (KRSOC, also pronounced “KR-Sock”), also known as the Kunia Tunnel[2] or the Regional Signals Intelligence Operations Center Kunia, is a United States National Security Agency facility.[3][4] It is a secured installation located on Kunia Road between Kunia Camp and Wheeler Army Airfield in central Oahu, Hawaii.



In response to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the installation was designed and built as a bomb-proof, underground open bay with a 250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) floorspace to facilitate aircraft assembly in proximity to Wheeler Army Airfield. During the later part of World War II and in the decades that followed it was used primarily for cryptologic and intelligence activities.[5]


Military complements that currently occupy the structure include the U.S. Navy’s Naval Security Group Activity Hawaii (a combination of the former NSGA Kunia and NSGA Pearl Harbor) and the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps 500th Military Intelligence Brigade.[4]


Once complete the National Security Agency Central Security Service’s Hawaii Regional Security Operations Center presently under construction will replace operations at Kunia Tunnel. The facility, located near Whitmore Village, Oahu, occupies the former site of the large, circular antenna at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific, or NCTAMS PAC. The construction contract awarded is worth $318 million.[1]

Rotary Peace Forum: USS Missouri

This blog looks at our Rotary Peace Forum visit to the USS Missouri.   I record my reflections as I step onto the boat and then the history as recorded by Wikipedia.

We caught the bus from the Rotary Peace forum in Honolulu to Pearl Harbour to look at the USS Missouri. 

On the bus I met a Rotoractor from Mexico, I found during the course of our conversation that she was such a wise young woman.  We spoke of the drug lords in Mexico, she didn’t think the drug issue could be solved given its history and how embedded it is in Mexican society. I told her answers are always there just be open.  I said what about looking at case studies of Mafia and if they had been stopped in places.  To look for what works.  To look for why it starts, who demands it, what sustains it and how it can be changed.   She explained she was not wanting to know about it for a long time until she met a guy and went out with him, he lived in the worst place in Mexico and knew well the drug cartels.  She learned through him they threw elaborate parties, they were deeply loyal to each other, they were not educated (never went to school) just enjoyed the money and spent it like there was no tomorrow.  They had no empathy for the people killed who they saw as betraying them, nor the victims of the drugs they peddled.  They lived in their illusion and others felt drawn to their lifestyle as they seemed so happy.   As police were receiving kick backs the drug lords were supported and the community had to accept it.  There were other parts of Mexico where they were not approved of but it seems that they accepted the drug trade as part of life and were powerless to stop it.  She was a delightful woman and so interesting. 

I met an Italian mediator living in New York on the bus and had a good discussion.  She learned much from disputes and enjoyed getting people to see each other’s sides.  It must be wonderful to do this work as you look through the eyes of an impartial third party and find ways to have the parties discuss the problem, listen to the other, and then resolve the problem.  She was looking at where to progress her career and came to the Rotary Peace Forum.  I sensed she would want to mediate overseas, she agreed that is what she wants and perhaps to look at which country, dispute etc to get involved in.  She and I connected and when we got to the USS Missouri we hung out together exploring the ship.

My first impression was that it is a huge ship and I saw the guns, I saw them as huge and tried to imagine the sound of them and how a person would feel when they were fired.  I see the ship as a vessel designed for killing.  I imagined those on the receiving end.  I don’t have the romantic idea of a battleship, yes it is impressive structurally, lots of buttons, wheels, turrets, steel, decking and huge chains for the anchors, but ultimately my heart goes to the intent of its use and I find myself reflecting in a sober manner.  However, I am open to those who see it differently and I understand why there is grandeur associated as well.  I am not American so haven’t grown up with the history nor an identity with it.

Our presenter was animated and I did admire the enthusiasm of Americans and how out going they are.  They are similar to Australians and there is a natural warmth between our countries.  However, I saw the aggrandisement of a war machine.  I also listened with great interest to all the descriptions of the dimensions, weights, structure, features and function of the warship.  What was interesting was to learn that the Americans consciously sought to create a sense of superiority during the peace signing ceremony through having tall soldiers appearing physically larger and having the Japanese delegation walk around the gun turrets.  I noted the issue of the first surrender was not mentioned whereby the Japanese had already agreed to surrender before the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  When I quietly asked the presenter about it, he showed genuine surprise, he didn’t know that information and was a former naval man/vietnam veteran.  He talked about the unconditional surrender and saw that as the end of the war and the beginning of peace.  What was interesting about the conditional surrender of the Japanese was the fact that they refused to give up Emperor Hirohito as he was seen as a god in Japan.  The unconditional surrender included his surrender without any Japanese conditions, hence unconditional.  However, I was to find out from this tour guide that Emperor Hirohito remained in Japan after the surrender.  What concerned me was the fact that the US Government ordered the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, which in hindsight appears was unnecessarily, as Hirohito remained in Japan.  Of course there could be much more to this than I know but this is my initial impression.  When I discussed this with my mediator friend she indicated that she viewed the issue of this bombing as a determination to end the war and that there would have been a fear of the Japanese not surrendering.  I do agree with that point.  However, the people of Japan (civilians) were not in power it was the elites in Japan and US that were at war. I suddenly saw revenge as the motive and I wondered about the testing of these weapons on innocent men, women and children.  This feeling moves us into the ethical field, not the historical negotiations, military decisions, rationale, but the human cost and whether this can be justifiable on any grounds given our own societies punish those who kill others. 

In any historical appraisal what I would like to hear is the history on the Japanese side, the American side, the Europeans and so on.  So I can get a view of the big picture.  What I heard was an American view of the ending of the war and as a peace educator I can’t determine the truth without all sides being mentioned and the courage of that truth, as all participated in the atrocities of the Second World War.  How do we learn from war if we do not know all sides.  If we glorify it then we are cheering on our side and seeing the other as the enemy still.  I always feel there are many sides and much we don’t know.

I reflected on the fact that 50 million died in the WWII and I am sure by the end they wanted it over, everyone was fatigued.  But this is the moment of truth, this is the true test of democracy and human rights, it is in these moments that who we are, at that time, is revealed.  My interest was the unnecessary suffering of innocent people and the generations that will never be as they were literally dissolved on the pavements of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there were literally shadows of bodies can you believe, the foliage of trees was completely burned and turned these cities into skeletons.  The radiation and fall out would have affected hundreds of thousands.   My concern is not only in Japan but the carnage of innocent civilians in Europe, in Pearl Harbour and so on.  My query refers to the implications of the use of such violence as a means to an end.  That we can walk away from these atrocities as winners/losers and that is okay in the eyes of history.   The reason it concerns me as a civilian is that civilians are mostly the ones killed (90%).  Thus it is civilians that must ensure the peace, we have a real responsibility to protect civilians by ensuring we create a Culture of Peace, in my view.  I wonder at how we can move towards this new culture where perhaps we create Departments of Peace or Conflict Resolution or Harmony.  My view is reinforced by Aung San Suu Kyi’s lecture at the Rotary Peace forum, where she speaks of the drastic social problems caused by unfetted military occupation of a country and their rule being absolute, where there is no room for negotiation.  In fact in the Burmese case the citizens were used as slave labour by the Military Junta.  So the civilians are impacted by those who see black and white, not shades of gray, they see domination rather than power sharing and these are real issues for governance and world peace, in my view.

I told this guide we were peacemakers and he confessed he had real conflict in Vietnam, I asked why?  he said he didn’t agree with the war.  I asked him what kept him there, he said he wanted to serve his country.  I could see his pain and dilemma there.  I felt a deep sense of empathy for his conflict.  I also realised I must be gentle with people as there are always two sides to all stories and those engaged in the violence are also feeling human beings.  I wish I had time to tell him life is as it is, and we are here to learn from our lives, in retrospect we see more, but it is not to carry the guilt but to learn from the experience and become a wise elder to show the next generation the way to peace.  Sadly I couldn’t do that for him as we were running out of time. 

As I was leaving I felt to say to the tour guide that the war hasn’t ended until we make peace within.  Until we look inside at the inner conflict which becomes outer conflict the war is not over.  I told him about The Work by Byron Katie and recommended he visit  I see all war as starting within, thus to have real peace in the world we must start to work on our beliefs, that are mostly unquestioned.  We are prepared to die for beliefs, perhaps if we question them we may be prepared to live for love. 

We had to go as the ship was closing.  Myself and mediator friend gave this guy a hug and another soldier.  I jokingly said to him ‘don’t you get love from your mum?’.  He came back for a second hug so I said ‘don’t you get love from you dad?’, he laughed as he just loved hugging women.  I love Americans.  They were warm and kind.  We are all learning, each and every one of us.  Any time we think negatively we are the soldier at war or creating an enemy so I cannot look at a soldier as the ‘other’ he or she is me.  So let’s hold hands and learn from the past and recreate our future that is nonviolent.

USS Missouri (BB-63) (“Mighty Mo” or “Big Mo“) is a United States Navy Iowa-class battleship and was the third ship of the U.S. Navy to be named in honor of the US state of Missouri. Missouri was the last battleship built by the United States and was the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan which ended World War II.

Missouri was ordered in 1940 and commissioned in June 1944. In the Pacific Theater of World War II she fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and shelled the Japanese home islands, and she fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. She was decommissioned in 1955 into the United States Navy reserve fleets (the “Mothball Fleet”), but reactivated and modernized in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy plan, and provided fire support during Operation Desert Storm in January/February 1991.

Missouri received a total of 11 battle stars for service in World War II, Korea, and the Persian Gulf, and was finally decommissioned on 31 March 1992, but remained on the Naval Vessel Register until her name was struck in January 1995. In 1998, she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.



Missouri was one of the Iowa-classfast battleship” designs planned in 1938 by the Preliminary Design Branch at the Bureau of Construction and Repair. She was laid down at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 6 January 1941, launched on 29 January 1944 and commissioned on 11 June with Captain William Callaghan in command. The ship was the third of the Iowa class, but the fourth and final Iowa-class ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy.[1][2][3][4] The ship was christened at her launching by Mary Margaret Truman, daughter of Harry S. Truman, then a United States Senator from Missouri.[5]

Missouri‘s main battery consisted of nine 16 in (406 mm)/50 cal Mark 7 guns, which could fire 2,700 lb (1,200 kg) armor-piercing shells some 20 mi (32.2 km). Her secondary battery consisted of twenty 5 in (127 mm)/38 cal guns in twin turrets, with a range of about 10 mi (16 km). With the advent of air power and the need to gain and maintain air superiority came a need to protect the growing fleet of allied aircraft carriers; to this end, Missouri was fitted with an array of Oerlikon 20 mm and Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft guns to defend allied carriers from enemy airstrikes. When reactivated in 1984 Missouri had her 20 mm and 40 mm AA guns removed, and was outfitted with Phalanx CIWS mounts for protection against enemy missiles and aircraft, and Armored Box Launchers and Quad Cell Launchers designed to fire Tomahawk missiles and Harpoon missiles, respectively.[6]

Missouri was the last U.S. battleship to be completed.[2][7] Wisconsin, the highest-numbered U.S. battleship built, was completed before Missouri; BB-65 to BB-71 were ordered but cancelled.

World War II (1944–1945)

Shakedown and service with Task Force 58, Admiral Mitscher

After trials off New York and shakedown and battle practice in the Chesapeake Bay, Missouri departed Norfolk, Virginia 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 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 24 December 1944. She departed Hawaii on 2 January 1945 and arrived in Ulithi, West Caroline Islands on 13 January. There she was temporary headquarters ship for Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher. The battleship put to sea on 27 January to serve in the screen of the Lexington carrier task group of Mitscher’s TF 58, and on 16 February the task force’s aircraft carriers launched the first air strikes against Japan since the famed Doolittle raid, which had been launched from the carrier Hornet in April 1942.[5]

Missouri then steamed with the carriers to Iwo Jima where her main guns provided direct and continuous support to the invasion landings begun on 19 February. After TF 58 returned to Ulithi on 5 March, Missouri was assigned to the Yorktown 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 shot down four Japanese aircraft.[5]

Raids against airfields and naval bases near the Inland Sea and southwestern Honshū continued. When the carrier Franklin incurred battle damage, the Missouri‘s carrier task group provided cover for the Franklin’s retirement toward Ulithi until 22 March, then set course for pre-invasion strikes and bombardment of Okinawa.[5]

Missouri joined the fast battleships of TF 58 in bombarding the southeast coast of Okinawa on 24 March, 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 Marine and Army units stormed the shores of Okinawa on the morning of 1 April. An attack by Japanese forces was repulsed successfully.[5]

A Japanese Zero about to hit the Missouri 11 April 1945

On 11 April, a low-flying kamikaze, although fired on, crashed on Missouri‘s starboard side, just below her main deck level. The starboard wing of the plane was thrown far forward, starting a gasoline fire at 5 in (127 mm) Gun Mount No. 3. The battleship suffered only superficial damage, and the fire was brought quickly under control.[5] The remains of the pilot were recovered on board the ship just aft of one of the 40 mm gun tubs. Captain Callaghan decided that the young Japanese pilot had done his job to the best of his ability, and with honor, so he should be given a military funeral. The following day he was buried at sea with military honors.[8] The dent in the side of the ship remains to this day.

About 2305 on 17 April, Missouri detected an enemy submarine 12 mi (19 km) from her formation. Her report set off a hunter-killer operation by the light carrier Bataan and four destroyers, which sank the Japanese submarine I-56.[5]

Missouri was detached from the carrier task force off Okinawa on 5 May 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.[5]

Service with the Third Fleet, Admiral Halsey

Missouri arrived at Ulithi on 9 May and then proceeded to Apra Harbor, Guam, arriving on 18 May. That afternoon Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander Third Fleet, brought his command into the Missouri.[9] She passed out of the harbor on 21 May, and by 27 May was again conducting shore bombardment against Japanese positions on Okinawa. Missouri now led the 3rd Fleet in strikes on airfields and installations on Kyūshū on 2–3 June. She rode out a fierce storm on 5 and 6 June that wrenched the bow off the cruiser Pittsburgh. Some topside fittings were smashed, but Missouri suffered no major damage. Her fleet again struck Kyūshū on 8 June, then hit hard in a coordinated air-surface bombardment before retiring towards Leyte. She arrived at San Pedro, Leyte on 13 June, after almost three months of continuous operations in support of the Okinawa campaign.[5]

Here she rejoined the powerful 3rd Fleet in strikes at the heart of Japan from within its home waters. The fleet set a northerly course on 8 July to approach the Japanese main island, Honshū. Raids took Tokyo by surprise on 10 July, followed by more devastation at the juncture of Honshū and Hokkaidō, the second-largest Japanese island, on 13–14 July. For the first time, naval gunfire destroyed a major installation within the home islands when Missouri joined in a shore bombardment on 15 July that severely damaged the Nihon Steel Co. and the Wanishi Ironworks at Muroran, Hokkaido.[5]

During the nights of 17 and 18 July, Missouri bombarded industrial targets in Honshū. Inland Sea aerial strikes continued through 25 July, and Missouri guarded the carriers as they attacked the Japanese capital. As July ended, the Japanese no longer had any home waters.[5]

Signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender

The Missouri (left) transfers personnel to the Iowa in advance of the surrender ceremony planned for 2 September.

Allied sailors and officers watch General of the Army Douglas MacArthur sign documents during the surrender ceremony aboard Missouri on 2 September 1945. The unconditional surrender of the Japanese to the Allies officially ended the Second World War.

Strikes on Hokkaidō and northern Honshū resumed on 9 August, the day the second atomic bomb was dropped.[5]

After the Japanese agreed to surrender, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser of the Royal Navy, the Commander of the British Pacific Fleet, boarded Missouri on 16 August and conferred the honour of Knight of the British Empire upon Admiral Halsey. Missouri transferred a landing party of 200 officers and men to the battleship Iowa for temporary duty with the initial occupation force for Tokyo on 21 August. Missouri herself entered Tokyo Bay early on 29 August to prepare for the signing by Japan of the official instrument of surrender.[5]

High-ranking military officials of all the Allied Powers were received on board on 2 September, including Chinese General Hsu Yung-Ch’ang, British Admiral-of-the-Fleet Sir Bruce Fraser, Soviet Lieutenant-General Kuzma Nikolaevich Derevyanko, Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey, Canadian Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave, French Général d’Armée Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque, Dutch Vice Admiral Conrad Emil Lambert Helfrich, and New Zealand Air Vice Marshal Leonard M. Isitt.

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz boarded shortly after 0800, and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allies, came on board at 0843. The Japanese representatives, headed by Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, arrived at 0856. At 0902, General MacArthur stepped before a battery of microphones and opened the 23-minute surrender ceremony to the waiting world by stating,[5] “It is my earnest hope—indeed the hope of all mankind—that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world founded upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance, and justice.”[10]

During the surrender ceremony, the deck of Missouri was decorated with a 31-star American flag that had been taken ashore by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 after his squadron of “Black Ships” sailed into Tokyo Bay to force the opening of Japan’s ports to foreign trade. This flag was actually displayed with the reverse side showing, i.e., stars in the upper right corner: the historic flag was so fragile that the conservator at the Naval Academy Museum had sewn a protective linen backing to one side to help secure the fabric from deteriorating, leaving its “wrong side” visible. The flag was displayed in a wood-framed case secured to the bulkhead overlooking the surrender ceremony.[11] Another U.S. flag was raised and flown during the occasion, a flag that some sources have indicated was in fact that flag which had flown over the U.S. Capitol on 7 December 1941. This is not true; it was a flag taken from the ship’s stock, according to Missouri’s Commanding Officer, Captain Stuart “Sunshine” Murray, and it was “…just a plain ordinary GI-issue flag”.[12]

By 09:30 the Japanese emissaries had departed. In the afternoon of 5 September, Admiral Halsey transferred his flag to the battleship South Dakota, and early the next day Missouri departed Tokyo Bay. As part of the ongoing Operation Magic Carpet she received homeward bound passengers at Guam, then sailed unescorted for Hawaii. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 20 September and flew Admiral Nimitz’s flag on the afternoon of 28 September for a reception.[5]

Post-war (1946–1950)

Missouri moves through the Panama Canal en route to the United States in October 1945.

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 hoisted the flag of Atlantic Fleet commander Admiral Jonas Ingram. Four days later, Missouri boomed out a 21-gun salute as President Truman boarded for Navy Day ceremonies.[5]

After an overhaul in the New York Naval Shipyard and a training cruise to Cuba, Missouri returned to New York. During the afternoon of 21 March 1946, she received the remains of the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Münir Ertegün. She departed on 22 March for Gibraltar, and on 5 April anchored in the Bosphorus off Istanbul. She rendered full honors, including the firing of 19-gun salutes during the transfer of the remains of the late ambassador and again during the funeral ashore.[5]

Missouri departed Istanbul on 9 April and entered Phaleron Bay, Piraeus, Greece, the following day for an overwhelming welcome by Greek government officials and anti-communist citizens. Greece had become the scene of a civil war between the communist World War II resistance movement and the returning Greek government-in-exile. The United States saw this as an important test case for its new doctrine of containment of the Soviet Union. The Soviets were also pushing for concessions in the Dodecanese to be included in the peace treaty with Italy and for access through the Dardanelles strait between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The voyage of Missouri to the eastern Mediterranean symbolized America’s strategic commitment to the region. News media proclaimed her a symbol of U.S. interest in preserving both nations’ independence.[5]

Missouri departed Piraeus on 26 April, touching at Algiers and Tangiers before arriving at Norfolk on 9 May. She departed for Culebra Island on 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 Strait and south to the Caribbean on various Atlantic command training exercises.[5] On 13 December, during a target practice exercise in the North Atlantic, a star shell accidentally struck the battleship, but without causing injuries.[13]

Missouri was accidentally grounded early on the morning of 17 January 1950.

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 by stipulating that an attack on any one of the signatory American states would be considered an attack on all.[5]

The Truman family boarded Missouri on 7 September 1947 to return to the United States and debarked at Norfolk on 19 September. Her overhaul in New York—which lasted from 23 September to 10 March 1948—was followed by refresher training at Guantanamo Bay. The summer of 1948 was devoted to midshipman and reserve training cruises. Also in 1948, the Big Mo became the first battleship to host a helicopter detachment, operating two Sikorsky HO3S-1 machines for utility and rescue work.[14] The battleship departed Norfolk on 1 November 1948 for a second three-week Arctic cold-weather training cruise to the Davis Strait. During the next two years, Missouri participated in Atlantic command exercises from the New England coast to the Caribbean, alternated with two midshipman summer training cruises. She was overhauled at Norfolk Naval Shipyard from 23 September 1949 to 17 January 1950.[5]

Throughout the latter half of the 1940s, the various service branches of the United States had been downsizing their inventories from their World War II levels. In the Navy, this resulted in several vessels of various types being decommissioned and either sold for scrap or placed in one of the various United States Navy reserve fleets scattered along the East and West Coast of the United States. As part of this drawdown, three of the Iowa-class battleships had been de-activated and decommissioned; however, President Truman refused to allow Missouri to be decommissioned. Against the advice of Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan, and Chief of Naval Operations Louis E. Denfeld, Truman ordered Missouri to be maintained with the active fleet partly because of his fondness for the battleship and partly because the battleship had been christened by his daughter Margaret Truman.[15][16]

Then 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 1.6 mi (2.6 km) from Thimble Shoal Light, near Old Point Comfort. She hit shoal water a distance of three ship-lengths from the main channel. Lifted some 7 feet (2.1 m) above waterline, she stuck hard and fast.[5] With the aid of tugboats, pontoons, and an incoming tide, she was refloated on 1 February 1950 and repaired.[5]

The Korean War (1950–1955)

In 1950, the Korean War broke out, prompting the United States to intervene in the name of the United Nations. President Truman was caught off guard when the invasion struck,[17] but quickly ordered U.S. forces stationed in Japan into South Korea. Truman also sent U.S.-based troops, tanks, fighter and bomber aircraft, and a strong naval force to Korea to support the Republic of Korea. As part of the naval mobilization Missouri was called up from the Atlantic Fleet and dispatched from Norfolk on 19 August to support UN forces on the Korean peninsula.[5]

Missouri arrived just west of Kyūshū on 14 September, where she became the flagship of Rear Admiral A. E. Smith. The first American battleship to reach Korean waters, she bombarded Samchok on 15 September 1950 in an attempt to divert troops and attention from the Incheon landings. This was the first time since World War II that Missouri had fired her guns in anger, and in company with the cruiser Helena and two destroyers, she helped prepare the way for the U.S. Eighth Army offensive.[5]

Missouri arrived at Incheon on 19 September, and on 10 October became flagship of Rear Admiral J. M. Higgins, commander, Cruiser Division 5 (CruDiv 5). She arrived at Sasebo on 14 October, where she became flagship of Vice Admiral A. D. Struble, Commander, 7th Fleet. After screening the aircraft carrier Valley Forge along the east coast of Korea, she conducted bombardment missions from 12 to 26 October in the Chongjin and Tanchon areas, and at Wonsan where she again screened carriers eastward of Wonsan.[5]

MacArthur’s amphibious landings at Incheon had severed the North Korean Army’s supply lines; as a result, North Korea’s army had begun a lengthy retreat from South Korea into North Korea. This retreat was closely monitored by the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) out of fear that the UN offensive against Korea would create a US-backed enemy on China’s border, and out of concern that the UN offensive in Korea could evolve into a UN war against China. The latter of these two threats had already manifested itself during the Korea War: U.S. F-86 Sabres on patrol in “MiG Alley” frequently crossed into China while pursuing Communist MiGs operating out of Chinese airbases.[18]

Moreover, there was talk among the U.N. commanders—notably General Douglas MacArthur—about a potential campaign against the People’s Republic of China. In an effort to dissuade UN forces from completely overrunning North Korea the People’s Republic of China issued diplomatic warnings that they would use force to protect the PRC, but these warnings were not taken seriously for a number of reasons, among them the fact that China lacked air cover to conduct such an attack.[19][20] This changed abruptly on 19 October 1950, when the first of an eventual total of 380,000 People’s Liberation Army soldiers under the command of General Peng Dehuai crossed into North Korea, launching a full scale assault against advancing U.N. troops. The PRC offensive caught the UN completely by surprise; UN forces realized they would have to fall back, and quickly executed an emergency retreat. UN assets were shuffled in order to cover this retreat, and as part of the force tasked with covering the UN retreat Missouri was moved into Hungnam on 23 December to provide gunfire support about the Hungnam defense perimeter until the last UN troops, the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, were evacuated by way of the sea on 24 December 1950.[5]

Missouri fires her guns against enemy positions during the Korean War. Notice the effect on the seawater under the guns.

Missouri conducted additional operations with carriers and 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 on 28 March, and upon arrival at Norfolk on 27 April became the flagship of Rear Admiral James L. Holloway, Jr., commander, Cruiser Force, Atlantic Fleet. During the summer of 1951, she engaged in two midshipman training cruises to northern Europe. Under the command of Captain John Sylvester, Missouri entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard 18 October 1951 for an overhaul, which lasted until 30 January 1952.[5]

Following winter and spring training out of Guantanamo Bay, Missouri visited New York, then set course from Norfolk on 9 June 1952 for another midshipman cruise. She returned to Norfolk on 4 August and entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard to prepare for a second tour in the Korean combat zone.[5]

Missouri stood out of Hampton Roads on 11 September 1952 and arrived at Yokosuka on 17 October. Vice Admiral Joseph J. Clark, commander of the 7th Fleet, brought his command onboard 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 25 October through 2 January 1953.[5]

Missouri put in to Incheon on 5 January 1953 and sailed thence to Sasebo, Japan. General Mark W. Clark, Commander in Chief, U.N. Command, and Admiral Sir Guy Russell, the Royal Navy 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 to support troops ashore. Repeated bombardment of Wonsan, Tanehon, Hungnam, and Kojo destroyed main supply routes along the eastern seaboard of Korea.[5]

The last bombardment mission by Missouri was against the Kojo area on 25 March. On 6 March, her commanding officer–Captain Warner R. Edsall–suffered a fatal heart attack while conning her through the submarine net at Sasebo. She was relieved as the 7th Fleet flagship on 6 April by her older sister New Jersey.[5]

Missouri departed Yokosuka on 7 April and arrived at Norfolk on 4 May to become flagship for Rear Admiral 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 from 20 November 1953 to 2 April 1954. Now the flagship of Rear Admiral R. E. Kirby, who had relieved Admiral Woolridge, Missouri departed Norfolk on 7 June as flagship of the midshipman training cruise to Lisbon and Cherbourg. During this voyage Missouri was joined by the other three battleships of her class, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Iowa, the only time the four ships sailed together.[21] She returned to Norfolk on 3 August and departed on 23 August for inactivation on the West Coast. After calls at Long Beach and San Francisco, Missouri arrived in Seattle on 15 September. Three days later she entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where she was decommissioned on 26 February 1955, entering the Bremerton group, Pacific Reserve Fleet.[5]

Upon arrival in Bremerton, Missouri was moored at the last pier of the reserve fleet berthing. This placed her very close to the mainland, and she served as a popular tourist attraction, logging about 180,000 visitors per year, who came to view the “surrender deck” where a bronze plaque memorialized the spot where Japan surrendered to the Allies, and the accompanying historical display that included copies of the surrender documents and photos. A small cottage industry grew in the civilian community just outside the gates, selling souvenirs and other memorabilia. Nearly thirty years passed before Missouri next returned to active duty.[5]

Reactivation (1984 to 1990)

Under the Reagan Administration’s program to build a 600-ship Navy, led by Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman, Missouri was reactivated and towed by the salvage ship Beaufort to the Long Beach Naval Yard in the summer of 1984 to undergo modernization in advance of her scheduled recommissioning.[5] In preparation for the move, a skeleton crew of 20 spent three weeks working 12-to-16 hour days preparing the battleship for her tow.[22] During the modernization Missouri had her obsolete armament removed: 20 mm and 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, and four of her ten 5-inch (130 mm) gun mounts.[23]

Missouri in dry dock during her modernization at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard in 1985

Over the next several months, the ship was upgraded with the most advanced weaponry available; among the new weapons systems installed were four MK 141 quad cell launchers for 16 AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, eight Armored Box Launcher (ABL) mounts for 32 BGM-109 Tomahawk missiles, and a quartet of Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS) gatling guns for defense against enemy anti-ship missiles and enemy aircraft.[23] Also included in her modernization were upgrades to radar and fire control systems for her guns and missiles, and improved electronic warfare capabilities.[23] During the modernization Missouri‘s 800 lb (360 kg) bell, which had been removed from the battleship and sent to Jefferson City, Missouri for sesquicentennial celebrations in the state, was formally returned to the battleship in advance of her recommissioning.[24] Missouri was formally recommissioned in San Francisco on 10 May 1986. “This is a day to celebrate the rebirth of American sea power”, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger told an audience of 10,000 at the recommissioning ceremony, instructing the crew to “listen for the footsteps of those who have gone before you. They speak to you of honor and the importance of duty. They remind you of your own traditions.”[25] Also present at the recommissioning ceremony was Missouri governor John Ashcroft, U.S. Senator Pete Wilson, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein, and Margaret Truman.[26]

Four months later Missouri departed from her new home port of Long Beach for an around-the-world cruise, visiting Pearl Harbor Hawaii; Sydney, Hobart, and Perth, Australia; Diego Garcia; the Suez Canal; Istanbul, Turkey; Naples, Italy; Rota, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; and the Panama Canal. Missouri became the first American battleship to circumnavigate the globe since Theodore Roosevelt‘s “Great White Fleet” 80 years before – a fleet which included the first battleship named USS Missouri (BB-11).[5]

Crewmen man the rails as Missouri formally recommissions in San Francisco, California

In 1987, Missouri was outfitted with 40 mm grenade launchers and 25 mm chain guns and sent to take part in Operation Earnest Will, the escorting of reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.[27] These smaller-caliber weapons were installed due to the threat of Iranian-manned, Swedish-made Boghammar cigarette boats operating in the Persian Gulf at the time.[28] On 25 July, the ship departed on a six-month deployment to the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea. She spent more than 100 continuous days at sea in a hot, tense environment – a striking contrast to her world cruise months earlier. As the centerpiece for Battlegroup Echo, Missouri escorted tanker convoys into the Strait of Hormuz, keeping her fire control system trained on land-based Iranian Silkworm missile launchers.[29]

Missouri returned to the United States via Diego Garcia, Australia and Hawaii in early 1988. Several months later, Missouri‘s crew again headed for Hawaiian waters for the Rim of the Pacific (RimPac) exercises, which involved more than 50,000 troops and ships from the navies of Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States. Port visits in 1988 included Vancouver and Victoria in Canada, San Diego, Seattle, and Bremerton.[5]

In the early months of 1989, Missouri was in the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for routine maintenance. On 1 July 1989, while berthed at Pier D, the music video for Cher‘s If I Could Turn Back Time was filmed aboard Missouri and featured the ship’s crew. A few months later she departed for Pacific Exercise (PacEx) ’89, where she and New Jersey performed a simultaneous gunfire demonstration for the aircraft carriers Enterprise and Nimitz. The highlight of PacEx was a port visit in Pusan, Republic of Korea. In 1990, Missouri again took part in the RimPac Exercise with ships from Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, and the U.S.[5]

Gulf War (January–February 1991)

On 2 August 1990 Iraq, led by President Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait. In the middle of the month U.S. President George H. W. Bush, in keeping with the Carter Doctrine, sent the first of several hundred thousand troops, along with a strong force of naval support, to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf area to support a multinational force in a standoff with Iraq.

Missouri‘s scheduled four-month Western Pacific port-to-port cruise set to begin in September was canceled just a few days before the ship was to leave. She had been placed on hold in anticipation of being mobilized as forces continued to mass in the Middle East. Missouri departed on 13 November 1990 for the troubled waters of the Persian Gulf. She departed from Pier 6 at Long Beach, with extensive press coverage, and headed for Hawaii and the Philippines for more work-ups en route to the Persian Gulf. Along the way she made stops at Subic Bay and 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 Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) and provide naval gunfire support as required.[5]

Missouri launches a Tomahawk missile.

Missouri fired her first Tomahawk missile at Iraqi targets at 01:40 am on 17 January 1991, followed by 27 additional missiles over the next five days.[5]

On 29 January, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate Curts led Missouri northward, using advanced mine-avoidance sonar. In her first naval fire support action of Desert Storm she shelled an Iraqi command and control bunker near the Saudi border, the first time her 16 in (410 mm) guns had been fired in combat since March 1953 off Korea.[30] The battleship bombarded Iraqi beach defenses in occupied Kuwait on the night of 3 February, firing 112 16 in (410 mm) rounds over the next three days until relieved by Wisconsin. Missouri then fired another 60 rounds off Khafji on 11–12 February before steaming north to 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.[5] The heavy pounding attracted Iraqi attention; in response to the battleship’s artillery strike, the Iraqis fired two HY-2 Silkworm missiles at the battleship, one of which missed,[31] while the other was intercepted by a GWS-30 Sea Dart missile launched from the British air defence destroyer HMS Gloucester[5] within 90 seconds and crashed into the sea roughly 700 yd (640 m) in front of Missouri.[32]

Missouri firing her 16″ guns during Desert Storm, 6 February 1991.

During the campaign, Missouri was involved in a friendly fire incident with the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate Jarrett. According to the official report, on 25 February, Jarrett‘s Phalanx engaged the chaff fired by Missouri as a countermeasure against enemy missiles, and stray rounds from the firing struck Missouri, one penetrating through a bulkhead and becoming embedded in an interior passageway of the ship. Another round struck the ship on the forward funnel, passing completely through it. One sailor aboard Missouri was struck in the neck by flying shrapnel and suffered minor injuries. Those familiar with the incident are skeptical of this account, however, as Jarrett was reportedly over 2 mi (3.2 km) away at the time and the characteristics of chaff are such that a Phalanx would not normally regard it as a threat and engage it.[33] There is no dispute that the rounds that struck Missouri did come from Jarrett, and that it was an accident. The suspicion is that a Phalanx operator on Jarrett may have accidentally fired off a few rounds manually, although there is no evidence to support this.[31][34]

During the operation, Missouri also assisted coalition forces engaged in clearing Iraqi naval mines in the Persian Gulf. By the time the war ended, Missouri had destroyed at least 15 naval mines.[32]

With combat operations out of range of the battleship’s weapons on 26 February, Missouri had fired a total 759 rounds of 16 in (410 mm) shells and launched 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles during the campaign,[35] and commenced to conduct 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 “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 S. Truman boarded the battleship in September 1947.[5]

Museum ship (1998 to present)

Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; aft deck and 16-inch (410 mm) gun turret

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and the absence of a perceived threat to the United States came drastic cuts in the defense budget, and the high cost of maintaining and operating battleships as part of the United States Navy’s active fleet became uneconomical; as a result, Missouri was decommissioned on 31 March 1992 at Long Beach, California.[1] Her last commanding officer, Captain Albert L. Kaiss, wrote in the ship’s final Plan of the Day:

Our final day has arrived. Today the final chapter in battleship Missouri’s history will be written. It’s often said that the crew makes the command. There is no truer statement … for it’s the crew of this great ship that made this a great command. You are a special breed of sailors and Marines and I am proud to have served with each and every one of you. To you who have made the painful journey of putting this great lady to sleep, I thank you. For you have had the toughest job. To put away a ship that has become as much a part of you as you are to her is a sad ending to a great tour. But take solace in this—you have lived up to the history of the ship and those who sailed her before us. We took her to war, performed magnificently and added another chapter in her history, standing side by side our forerunners in true naval tradition. God bless you all.
—Captain Albert L. Kaiss[25]

Missouri facing the sunken Arizona.

Missouri remained part of the reserve fleet at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, until 12 January 1995, when she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. On 4 May 1998, Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton signed the donation contract that transferred her to the nonprofit USS Missouri Memorial Association (MMA) of Honolulu, Hawaii. She was towed from Bremerton on 23 May to Astoria, Oregon, where she sat in fresh water at the mouth of the Columbia River to kill and drop the saltwater barnacles and sea grasses that had grown on her hull in Bremerton,[32] then towed across the eastern Pacific, and docked at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor on 22 June, just 500 yd (460 m) from the Arizona Memorial.[25] Less than a year later, on 29 January 1999, Missouri was opened as a museum operated by the MMA.

Plaque commemorating the surrender of Japan to end World War II

Originally, the decision to move Missouri to Pearl Harbor was met with some resistance. The National Park Service expressed concern that the battleship, whose name has become synonymous with the end of World War II, would overshadow the battleship Arizona, whose dramatic explosion and subsequent sinking on 7 December 1941 has since become synonymous with the attack on Pearl Harbor.[36] To help guard against this perception Missouri was placed well back from and facing the Arizona Memorial, so that those participating in military ceremonies on Missouri‘s aft decks would not have sight of the Arizona Memorial. The decision to have Missouri‘s bow face the Arizona Memorial was intended to convey that Missouri now watches over the remains of Arizona so that those interred within Arizona‘s hull may rest in peace.[37]

Missouri was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on 14 May 1971 for hosting the signing of the instrument of Japanese surrender that ended World War II.[36] She is not eligible for designation as a National Historic Landmark because she was extensively modernized in the years following the surrender.[37]

On 14 October 2009, Missouri was moved from her berthing station on Battleship Row to a drydock at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to undergo a three month overhaul. The work, priced at $18 million, included installing a new anti-corrosion system, repainting the hull, and upgrading the internal mechanisms. Drydock workers reported that the ship was leaking at some points on the starboard side.[38] The repairs were completed the first week of January 2010 and the ship was returned to her berthing station on Battleship Row on 7 January 2010. The ship’s grand reopening occurred on 30 January.[39]


Missouri received three battle stars for her service in World War II, five for her service during the Korean War, and three for her service during the Gulf War.[37] Missouri also received numerous awards for her service in World War II, Korea, and the Persian Gulf.[40]


Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star

Bronze star

Silver star

Bronze star
Bronze star

Bronze star
Bronze star


  Combat Action Ribbon  
Navy Unit Commendation Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Navy E Ribbon w/ Wreathed Battle E device China Service Medal
American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 3 service stars World War II Victory Medal Navy Occupation Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Korean Service Medal w/ 5 service stars Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 2 service stars
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 2 service stars Korean Presidential Unit Citation United Nations Korea Medal Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)