USS MISSOURI (BB-63)
The fourth Missouri (BB-B3)
the last battleship completed by the United States
was laid down 6 January 1941 by New York Naval Shipyard; launched 29 January 1944; sponsored by Miss Margaret Truman
daughter of then Senator from Missouri Harry S Tr
later President; and commissioned 11 June 1944
Capt. William M. Callaghan in command.
After trials off New York and shakedown and battle practice in Chesapeake Bay
Missouri departed Norfolk 11 November 1944
transited the Panama Canal 18 November and steamed to San Francisco for final fitting out as fleet flagship. She stood out of
San Francisco Bay 14 December and arrived Ulithi
West Caroline Islands
13 January 1945. There she was temporary headquarters ship for Vice Adm. Marc A
Mitscher. The battleship put to sea 27 January to serve in the screen of the Lexington carrie
r task group of Mitscher's TF 58
and on 16 February her flattops launched the first airstrikes against Japan since the famed Doolittle raid that had been launched from carrier Hornet in April 1942.
Missouri then steamed with the carriers to Iwo Jima where her Mighty guns provided direct and continuous support to the invasion landings begun 19 February. After TF 58 returned to Ulithi 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 18 March
d four Japanese aircraft.
Raids against airfields and naval bases near the Inland Sea and southwestern Honshu continued. Wasp
crashed by an enemy suicide plane 19 March
resumed flight operations within an hour. Two bombs penetrated the hangar deck and decks aft of carrier
leaving her dead in the water within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland. Cruiser Pittsburgh took Franklin in tow until she gained speed to 14 knots. Missouri's carrier task group provided cover for Franklin's r
etirement toward Ulithi until 22 March
then set course for preinvasion strikes and bombardment of Okinawa.
Missouri joined the fast battleships of TF 58 in bombarding the southeast coast of Okinawa 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. Planes from the carriers shattered a special Japanese attacking force led by battleship Yamato 7 April. Yamato
the world's largest
as were a cruiser and a destroyer. Three other enemy destroyers were heavily damaged and scuttled. Four remaining destroyers
sole survivors of the attacking fleet
were damaged and retired to Sasebo.
On 11 April Missouri opened fire on a low-flying suicide plane which penetrated the curtain of her shells to crash just below her main deck level. The starboard wing of the plane was thrown far forward
starting a gasoline fire at 5-inch Gunmount N
o. 3. Yet the battleship suffered only superficial damage
and the fire was brought quickly under control.
About 2305 on 17 April
Missouri detected an enemy submarine 12 miles from her formation. Her report set off a hunter-killer operation by carrier Bataan and four destroyers which sank Japanese submarine I-56.
Missouri was detached from the carrier task force off Okinawa 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
and industrial structures.
Missouri arrived Ulithi 9 May and thence proceeded to Apra Harbor
18 May. That afternoon Adm. William F. Halsey
Commander 3d Fleet
broke his flag in Missouri. She passed out of the harbor 21 May
and by 27 May was again conducting shore bombardment against Japanese positions on Okinawa. Missouri now led the mighty 3d Fleet in strikes
on airfields and installations on Kyushu 2 and 3 June. She rode out a fierce storm 5 and 6 June that wrenched off the bow of cruiser Pittsburgh. Some topside fittings were smashed
but Missouri suffered no major damage. Her fleet again struc
k Kyushu 8 June
then hit hard in a coordinated air-surface bombardment before retiring towards Leyte. She arrived San Pedro
after almost 3 months of continuous operations in support of the Okinawa campaign.
Here she prepared to lead the 3d Fleet in strikes at the heart of Japan from within its home waters. The mighty fleet set a northerly course 8 July to approach the Japanese mainland. Raids took Tokyo by surprise 10 July
followed by more devastation at th
e juncture of Honshu and Hokkaido 13 and 14 July. For the first time
a naval gunfire force wrought destruction on a major installation within the home islands when Missouri closed the shore to join in a bombardment 15 July that rained destruction
on the Nihon Steel Co. and the Wanishi Ironworks at Muroran
During the night of 17-18 July Missouri bombarded industrial targets in the Hichiti area
Honshu. Inland Sea aerial strikes continued through 25 July
and Missouri guarded the carriers as they struck hard blows at the Japanese capital. As Ju
ly ended the Japanese no longer had any home waters. Missouri had led her fleet to gain control of the air and sea approaches to the very shores of Japan.
Strikes on Hokkaido and northern Honshu resumed 9 August
the day the second atomic bomb was dropped. Next day
at 2054 Missouri's men were electrified by the unofficial news that Japan was ready to surrender
provided that the Emperor's prerogativ
es as a sovereign ruler were not compromised. Not until 0745
was word received that President Truman had announced Japan's acceptance of unconditional surrender.
Adm. Sir Bruce Fraser
British Pacific Fleet) boarded Missouri 16 August
and conferred the order Knight of the British Empire upon Admiral Halsey. Missouri transferred a landing party of 200 officers and men to battleship
Iowa for temporary duty with the initial occupation force for Tokyo 21 August. Missouri herself entered Tokyo Bay early 29 August to prepare for the formal surrender ceremony.
High-ranking military officials of all the Allied Powers were received on board 2 September. Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz boarded shortly after 0800
and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (Supreme Commander for the Allies) came on board at 0843. The Japa
headed by Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu
arrived at 0856. At 0902 General MacArthur stepped before a battery of microphones and the 23-minute surrender ceremony was broadcast to the waiting world. By 0930 the Japanese emissaries
The afternoon of 6 September Admiral Halsey transferred his flag to battleship South Dakota. Early next day Missouri departed Tokyo Bay to receive homeward bound passengers at Guam
thence sailed unescorted for Hawaii. She arrived Pearl Harb
or 20 September and flew Admiral Nimitz' flag on the afternoon of 28 September for a reception.
The next day Missouri departed Pearl Harbor bound for the eastern seaboard of the United States.
She reached New York City 28 September and broke the flag of Adm. Jonas Ingram
Commander in Chief
Missouri boomed out a 21-gu
n salute 27 October as President Truman boarded for Navy day ceremonies. In his address the President stated that "control of our sea approaches and of the skies above them is still the key to our freedom and to our ability to help enforce the peace of th
After overhaul in the New York Naval Shipyard and a training cruise to Cuba
Missouri returned to New York. The afternoon of 21 March I946 she received the remains of the Turkish Ambassador to the United States
Melmet Munir Ertegun. She departed 2
2 March for Gibraltar and 5 April anchored in the Bosphorus off Istanbul. She rendered full honors
including the firing of a 19-gun salute during both the transfer of the remains of the late Ambassador and the funeral ashore.
Missouri departed Istanbul 9 April and entered Phaleron Bay
the following day for an overwhelming welcome by Greek government officials and people. She had arrived in a year when there were ominous Russian overtures and activities
in the entire Balkan area. Greece had become the scene of a Communist-inspired civil war
as Russia sought every possible extension of Soviet influence throughout the Mediterranean region. Demands were made that Turkey grant the Soviets a base of seapowe
r in the Dodecanese Islands and joint control of the Turkish Straits leading from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean.
The voyage of Missouri to the eastern Mediterranean gave comfort to both Greece and Turkey. News media proclaimed her a symbol of U.S. interest in preserving Greek and Turkish liberty. With an August decision to deploy a strong fleet to the Mediter
it became obvious that the United States intended to use her naval sea and air power to stand firm against the tide of Soviet subversion.
Missouri departed Piraeus 26 April
touching at Algiers and Tangiers before arriving Norfolk 9 May. She departed for Culebra Island 12 May to join Admiral Mitscher's 8th Fleet in the Navy's first large-scale postwar Atlantic training maneuvers. The
battleship returned to New York City 27 May
and spent the next year steaming Atlantic coastal waters north to the Davis Straits and south to the Caribbean on various Atlantic command training exercises.
Missouri arrived Rio de Janeiro 30 August 1947 for the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Hemisphere Peace and Security. President Truman boarded 2 September to celebrate the signing of the Rio Treaty which broadened the Monroe Doctri
stipulating that an attack on one of the signatory American States would be considered an attack on all.
The Truman family boarded Missouri 7 September to return to the United States and debarked at Norfolk 19 September. Overhaul in New York (23 September to 10 March 1948) was followed by refresher training at Guantanamo Bag. Summer 1948 was devoted t
o midshipman and reserve training cruises. The battleship departed Norfolk 1 November for a second 3-week Arctic cold weather training cruise to the Davis Straits. The next 2 years Missouri participated in Atlantic command exercises ranging from th
e New England coast to the Caribbean
alternated with two midshipman summer training cruises. She was overhauled at Norfolk Naval Shipyard 23 September 1949 to 17 February 1950.
Now the only U.S. battleship in commission
Missouri was proceeding seaward on a training mission from Hampton Roads early 17 January when she ran aground at a point 1.6 miles from Thimble Shoals Light
near Old Point Comfort. She traversed shoal w
ater a distance of three ship lengths from the main channel. Lifted some 7 feet above waterline
she struck hard and fast. With the aid of tugs
and an incoming tide
she was refloated 1 February.
From mid-February until 15 August Missouri conducted midshipman and reserve training cruises out of Norfolk. She departed Norfolk 19 August to support U.N. forces in their fight against Communist aggression in Korea. Missouri joined the U.N.
just west of Kyushu 14 September
becoming flagship of Rear Adm. A. E. Smith. The first American battleship to reach Korean waters
she bombarded Samchok 15 September in a diversionary move coordinated with the Inchon landings. In company with cruiser Helena and two destroyers
she helped prepare the way for the 8th Army offensive.
Missouri arrived Inchon 19 September
and 10 October became flagship of Rear Adm. J. M. Higgins
Cruiser Division 5. She arrived Sasebo 14 October
where she became flagship of Vice Adm. A. D. Struble
7th Fleet. After screeni
ng carrier Valley Forge along the east coast of Korea
she conducted bombardment missions 12 to 26 October in the Chonjin and Tanchon areas
and at Wonsan. After again screening carriers eastward of Wonsan she moved into Hungnam 23 December
to provide gunfire support about the Hungnam defense perimeter until the last U.N. troops
the U.S. 3d Infantry Division
were evacuated by way of the sea on Christmas Eve.
Missouri conducted additional operations with carriers and systematic shore bombardments off the east coast of Korea until 19 March 1951. She arrived Yokosuka 24 March
and 4 days later was relieved of duty in the Far East. She departed Yokosuka 28
and upon arrival Norfolk 27 April became flagship of Rear Adm. J. L. Holloway
Atlantic Fleet. Summer 1951 she engaged in two midshipman training cruises to northern Europe. Missouri entered Norfolk Naval Ship
yard 18 October for overhaul until 30 January 1952.
Following winter and spring training out of Guantanamo Bay
Missouri visited New York
then set course from Norfolk 9 June for another midshipman cruise. She returned to Norfolk 4 August and entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard to prepare for a second tour in t
he Korean Combat Zone.
Missouri stood out of Hampton Roads 11 September and arrived Yokosuka 17 October. She broke the flag of Vice Adm. J. J.. Clark
commander of the 7th Fleet
19 October. Her primary mission was to provide seagoing artillery support by bombarding enem
y targets In the Chaho-Tanchon area
in the Tanchon-Sonjin area
and at Chaho
and Hungnam during the period 15 October through 2 January 1953.
Missouri put in to Inchon 5 January 1953 and sailed thence to Sasebo
Japan. Gen. Mark Clark
Commander in Chief
and Adm. Sir Guy Russell
commander of the British Far East Station
visited the battleship 23 January. In the follo
Missouri resumed "Cobra" patrol along the east coast of Korea in direct support of troops ashore. Repeated strikes against Wonsan
and Kojo destroyed main supply routes along the eastern seaboard.
The last gunstrike mission by Missouri was against the Kojo area 25 March. she sustained a grievous casualty 26 March
when her commanding officer Capt. Warner R. Edsall suffered a fatal heart attack while conning her through the submarine net at S
asebo. She was relieved as 7th Fleet flagship 6 April by battleship New Jersey.
Missouri departed Yokosuka 7 April and arrived Norfolk 4 May
to become flagship for Rear Adm. E. T. Woolridge
14 May. She departed 8 June on a midshipman training cruise
returned to Norfolk 4 Augus
and was overhauled in Norfolk Naval Shipyard 20 November to 2 April 1954.
Now the flagship of Rear Adm. R. E. Kirby
who had relieved Admiral Woolridge
Missouri departed Norfolk 7 June as flagship of the midshipman training cruise to Lisbon and Cherbourg. She returned Norfolk 3 August and departed the 23d for inactivati
on on the west coast. After calls at Long Beach and San Francisco
Missouri arrived Seattle 15 September. Three days later she entered Puget Sound Naval Shipyard where she decommissioned 26 February 1955
entering the Bremerton group
Although now in reserve
"Mighty Mo" remains very much a part of the Navy and is a popular center of attention at Bremerton. Each year approximately 100
000 visitors board her. She can best be reached by a once-daily
75-minute guided bus tour of
the Pacific Fleet at Bremerton
and she can be toured from 0800 to sundown
Missouri received three battle stars for World War II service and five for Korean service.
[Note: The above USS MISSOURI (BB-63) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS MISSOURI (BB-63) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]