Located in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Battleship Missouri Memorial is a living history museum commemorating the USS Missouri (BB-63) Iowa-class battleship, which was the site of the Empire of Japan’s surrender, an event that is credited as officially ending World War II. The USS Missouri (BB-63) was the final battleship constructed by the United States Navy. She was ordered as part of plans in 1938 issued by the Preliminary Design Branch of the Bureau of Construction and Repair and constructed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York.
As the third ship in the Iowa class and the fourth American warship to bear the name of the state, USS Missouri was launched on January 29, 1944 and commissioned the following June under the command of Captain William M. Callaghan.
Missouri served as a battleship in the Pacific for the final year of World War II, serving missions at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. On April 11, 1945, Missouri was famously hit by a Japanese kamikaze Zero pilot. The impact did only minor damage to the battleship, and when the remains of the aircraft’s pilot were recovered by the crew, Captain Callaghan decided to honor the pilot with a full military burial at sea. Missouri then served with the Third Fleet under the command of Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., participating in coordinated strikes against Kyushu, Honshu, and Hokkaido for the remainder of the summer. Following the detonation of atomic bombs against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Missouri was the site of the signing of the Instrument of Surrender by the Empire of Japan, witnessed by representatives of the Allied and Axis powers.
Missouri continued to serve in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 before being decommissioned at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in February of 1965. She was reactivated as part of President Ronald Reagan’s 600-ship Navy initiative and recommissioned on May 10, 1986. On January 17, 1991, she was the first battleship to fire Tomahawk missiles at targets along the Persian Gulf, marking the start of Operation Desert Storm. Following her service in the conflict, Missouri was decommissioned as part of defense budget cuts and moved to Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island in Honolulu, Hawaii for operation as a living history museum.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
Today, the battleship is docked along Ford Island’s Battleship Row, the site of the December 1945 Pearl Harbor attack which marked the United States’ entrance into World War II. The ship features a displacement of 45,000 tons, at a length of 887 feet and three inches, and can travel at a speed of 37.6 miles per hour. She is equipped with nine 16-inch Mark 7 guns, and 20 five-inch Mark 12 guns, along with 80 anti-aircraft guns and 49 anti-aircraft cannons. As the final battleship commissioned by the United States Navy, she serves as a memorial of the start and end of the United States’ participation in World War II.
Visitors may tour the battleship and its exhibits as part of two tour package options, a general admission tour and a Heart of the Missouri extended tour. With general admission, visitors may choose between a 35-minute docent-led guided tour, an acoustiguide audio tour consisting of 100 phone stops, or self-guided exploration of the ship’s rooms and exhibits. Special exhibits on board include the Crew’s Room, which contains artifacts belonging to former crew members, the Chief Petty Officer’s Legacy Center, which honors the history of United States Navy Chiefs, and an exhibit honoring the Missouri’s service in the Korean War. The 90-minute guided Heart of the Missouri tour focuses on the ship’s engineering spaces, showcasing Missouri’s Engine Rooms, Damage Control Central Station, First Gun Turret, Fourth Fire Room, and Aft Battery Plot Room.
Ongoing Programs and Education
In addition to guided field trip opportunities for students, the USS Missouri offers a number of educational experiences for elementary and secondary school students, including Overnight Encampment programs, scouting merit badge courses, and workshops focused on robotics and digital media instruction. A Journey With the Stars program is offered for fourth graders, incorporating cultural and astronomy concepts to highlight the history of aquatic navigation in Hawaii and the Polynesian Islands.
A number of annual events are held at the battleship, including a Living History Day featuring historical reenactments, a Veteran’s Day celebration, and a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the end of World War II. A Picnic on the Pier is offered as a Fourth of July celebration, and a Silent Disco party on board the ship allows partygoers to choose their own music selections via custom headphones.
63 Cowpens St, Honolulu, HI 96818, Phone: 1-877-644-4896