Background of the Iowa Class
The Iowa class of fast battleships was designed in the late 1930s in response to the US Navy's expectations for a future war with the Empire of Japan. The last battleships to be built by the United States, they were also the US Navy's largest and fastest vessels of the type. American officers preferred comparatively slow but heavily armed and armored battleships, but Navy planners determined that such a fleet would have difficulty in bringing the faster Japanese fleet to battle, particularly the Kongō-class battlecruisers and the aircraft carriers of the 1st Air Fleet. Design studies prepared during the development of the earlier North Carolina and South Dakota classes demonstrated the difficulty in resolving the desires of fleet officers with those of the planning staff within the displacement limits imposed by the Washington Naval Treaty system, which had governed capital ship construction since 1923. An escalator clause in the Second London Naval Treaty of 1936 allowed an increase from 35,000 long tons (36,000 t) to 45,000 long tons (46,000 t) in the event that any member nation refused to sign the treaty, which Japan refused to do.
Signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender
Over the course of the following two weeks, Allied forces made preparations to begin the occupation of Japan. On 21 August, Missouri sent a contingent of 200 officers and men to Iowa, which was to debark a landing party in Tokyo to begin the process of demilitarizing Japan. Two days later, Murray was informed that Missouri would host the surrender ceremony, with the date scheduled for 31 August. The ship's crew immediately began preparations for the event, including cleaning and painting the vessel. Missouri began the approach to Tokyo Bay on 27 August, guided by the Japanese destroyer Hatsuzakura. That night, the ships stopped at Kamakura, where a courier brought the flag that Commodore Matthew Perry had flown during his expedition to open Japan in 1853; the flag was to be displayed during the surrender ceremony. The flotilla then entered Tokyo Bay on 29 August, and Missouri was anchored close to where Perry had anchored his own vessels some ninety-two years earlier. Poor weather delayed the ceremony until 2 September.
Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz boarded shortly after 08:00, and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allies, came on board at 08:43. The Japanese representatives, headed by Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu, arrived at 08:56, 2 September 1945. At 09:02, General MacArthur stepped before a battery of microphones and opened the 23-minute surrender ceremony to the waiting world by stating, "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."
By 09:30 the Japanese emissaries had departed. In the afternoon of 5 September, 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.
The next day, Missouri departed Pearl Harbor bound for the East Coast 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, the battleship fired a 21-gun salute (the first of 3 that day) as Truman—who had since become President of the United States—boarded for Navy Day ceremonies.
Statistics (1945 Fit)