The Mighty USS Missouri BB-63: A Historic Battleship

USS Missouri

The USS Missouri BB-63, also known as the Mighty Mo, is a legendary battleship that played a crucial role in various historical events. From its construction during World War II to its involvement in the Korean War and the Gulf War, the USS Missouri has a rich history that continues to captivate people around the world. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating story of this iconic battleship, exploring its design, notable missions, and enduring legacy.

The Birth of a Battleship

The USS Missouri BB-63 was built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, in the midst of World War II. As part of the Iowa-class battleships, which included the USS Iowa, USS New Jersey, and USS Wisconsin, the Missouri was designed to be a formidable warship that balanced firepower, armor, and speed. With its 887’3″ (270.4m) length and four powerful engines generating 212,000 shaft horsepower, the Missouri could reach speeds of over 33 knots, surpassing the capabilities of previous battleships.

The Missouri holds the distinction of being the third U.S. Navy ship named after the state of Missouri. The first USS Missouri, a frigate commissioned in 1841, was one of the earliest warships to cross the Atlantic Ocean on steam power alone. Unfortunately, it met a tragic fate when a fire broke out in its engine rooms, causing it to sink in Gibraltar’s harbor in 1843. The second USS Missouri, BB 11, served during the early 20th century but was decommissioned in 1919 and sold for scrap.

The Mighty Mo’s Impressive Features

The USS Missouri BB-63 boasted impressive features that made it a formidable force on the seas. Its main armament consisted of nine 16-inch guns, which were capable of firing projectiles weighing up to 2,700 pounds at a range of over 20 miles. In addition, the battleship carried twenty 5-inch guns for anti-aircraft defense and numerous smaller caliber guns for close-range engagements.

One of the distinctive features of the Missouri was its massive size. With a displacement of 45,000 tons and a beam of 108 feet, the battleship commanded a considerable presence on the water. Its sturdy construction and advanced armor protection allowed it to withstand enemy fire and protect its crew during combat.

World War II: The Missouri’s Finest Hour

During World War II, the USS Missouri played a pivotal role in several major engagements. One of its most significant moments came on September 2, 1945, when the Japanese formally surrendered aboard the battleship in Tokyo Bay. This historic event, which effectively ended World War II, showcased the Missouri’s symbolic importance as a vessel of peace and reconciliation.

The Missouri’s involvement in the war extended beyond the surrender ceremony. It participated in crucial battles such as the bombardment of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, providing vital support to American forces on land. Its firepower and strategic positioning made it a formidable asset in naval operations, contributing to the overall success of the Allied forces.

The Korean War: A New Battlefield

After a period of inactivity following World War II, the USS Missouri returned to service during the Korean War. Once again, the battleship demonstrated its firepower and versatility, delivering devastating blows to enemy positions along the Korean coastline. Its presence served as a powerful deterrent and bolstered the morale of American and United Nations forces.

During the Korean War, the Missouri underwent significant modernization to adapt to changing warfare tactics. Its anti-aircraft capabilities were upgraded, and new technologies were incorporated to enhance its offensive and defensive capabilities. These improvements ensured that the battleship remained a formidable force on the battlefield.

The Gulf War: A Display of Firepower

The USS Missouri’s final deployment came during the Gulf War in 1991. Serving as a symbol of American military might, the battleship played a crucial role in the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi forces. Its extensive firepower and advanced weaponry were put to the test during the conflict, as it unleashed a barrage of Tomahawk missiles and precision strikes against enemy targets.

The Missouri’s participation in the Gulf War demonstrated the continued relevance of battleships in modern warfare. Despite the advancements in naval technology, the battleship’s firepower and imposing presence served as a powerful deterrent and showcased the United States’ military capabilities to the world.

The Legacy Lives On

After its final deployment in the Gulf War, the USS Missouri BB-63 was decommissioned in 1992. However, its legacy lives on through various means. In 1998, the battleship was opened to the public as the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Visitors can explore the ship, learn about its history, and experience the living history of this iconic vessel.

The USS Missouri also continues to inspire and educate through various events and exhibits. Community and signature events, military ceremonies, and private events are held on its deck, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the battleship’s significance. Additionally, the Battleship Missouri Memorial offers educational programs, membership opportunities, and volunteer options for those who wish to contribute to its preservation.


The USS Missouri BB-63, the Mighty Mo, holds a special place in the annals of naval history. Its construction during World War II, participation in the Korean War and the Gulf War, and role in the surrender of Japan have cemented its status as an iconic battleship. The Missouri’s impressive firepower, advanced features, and lasting legacy continue to captivate visitors and remind us of the sacrifices made by those who served aboard this legendary vessel.


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