History of the USS Missouri BB-63
USS Missouri (BB-63) is an Iowa-class battleship built for the United States Navy (USN) in the 1940s and is currently a museum ship. Completed in 1944, she is the last battleship commissioned by the United States. The ship was assigned to the Pacific Theater during World War II, where she participated in the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and shelled the Japanese home islands. Her quarterdeck was the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan, which ended World War II. She has been called the most historic battleship in the world.
After World War II, Missouri served in various diplomatic, show of force and training missions. On 17 January 1950 the ship ran aground during high tide in Chesapeake Bay and after great effort was re-floated several weeks later. She later fought in the Korean War during two tours between 1950 and 1953. Missouri was the first American battleship to arrive in Korean waters and served as the flagship for several admirals. The battleship took part in numerous shore bombardment operations and also served in a screening role for aircraft carriers. Missouri was decommissioned in 1955 and transferred to the reserve fleet, (also known as the "Mothball Fleet").
Missouri was reactivated and modernized in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy plan. Cruise missile and anti-ship missile launchers were added along with updated electronics. The ship served in the Persian Gulf escorting oil tankers during threats from Iran, often while keeping her fire-control systems trained on land-based Iranian missile launchers. She served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 including providing fire support.
Missouri was again decommissioned in 1992, but remained on the Naval Vessel Register until her name was struck in 1995. In 1998, she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Gulf War: A Battleship in a Desert War
On 2 August 1990 Iraq, led by President Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait. In the middle of the month US President George H. W. Bush 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; after the cruise was completed, the ship was due to begin the process of inactivation. She had been placed on hold in anticipation of being mobilized as forces continued to mass in the Middle East. As part of the preparations for combat, a detachment of AAI RQ-2 Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicles were transferred to the ship to improve her ability to direct her gunfire. Missouri departed on 13 November 1990 for the troubled waters of the Persian Gulf. She departed 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, Thailand, before transiting the Strait of Hormuz on 3 January 1991. Before Operation Desert Storm began later that month, Missouri prepared to launch Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles and provide naval gunfire support as required. The ship 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.
On 29 January, the frigate Curts escorted Missouri northward. In her first bombardment action of Desert Storm, she shelled an Iraqi command and control bunker near the Saudi border, the first time her 16-inch guns had been fired in combat since March 1953 off Korea. The battleship bombarded beach defenses in occupied Kuwait on the night of 3 February, firing 112 main-gun 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, the ship fired 133 rounds during four shore bombardment missions as part of the amphibious landing feint against the Kuwaiti coast the morning of 23 and 24 February. 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 crashed shortly after launching. The other missile was intercepted by a GWS-30 Sea Dart missile launched from the British destroyer HMS Gloucester within 90 seconds and crashed into the sea roughly 700 yd (640 m) in front of Missouri. Shortly afterwards, the battleship's Pioneer drones located the missile launchers and neutralized them with about fifty 16-inch shells.
During the campaign, Missouri was involved in a friendly fire incident with the frigate Jarrett. According to the official report, on 25 February, Jarrett's Phalanx CIWS engaged the chaff fired by Missouri as a countermeasure against enemy missiles, and stray rounds from the firing struck the battleship, one penetrating through a bulkhead and becoming embedded in an interior passageway of the ship. One sailor aboard Missouri was struck in the neck by flying debris and suffered minor injuries.
During the operation, Missouri also assisted coalition forces engaged in clearing Iraqi naval mines in the Persian Gulf. By the time the war ended, the ship's crew had destroyed at least 15 naval mines.
With combat operations out of range of the battleship's weapons on 26 February, Missouri had fired a total of 783 sixteen-inch shells and launched 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles during the campaign, and began patrolling 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, hosting visitors in between training missions, the latter including a 7 December "voyage of remembrance" to mark the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. During that ceremony, Missouri hosted President Bush, the first such presidential visit for the warship since Harry S. Truman's in September 1947.
Statistics (1986 Fit)