Reviving Naval Giants: Multiple U.S. Navy Battleships Are Getting Rebuilt

U.S. Navy Iowa-Class Battleship
March 21, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: U.S. NavyNavyMilitaryBattleshipsIowa-ClassUSS Texas

Reviving Naval Giants: Multiple U.S. Navy Battleships Are Getting Rebuilt

The surviving U.S. Navy battleships, each a relic of a bygone era of naval warfare, serve today not as instruments of war but as enduring symbols of American naval heritage and valor. Many are being restored to ensure they can be visited for years to come. 


USS Missouri (BB-63)

Completed in 1944, the USS Missouri (BB-63) was the last battleship commissioned by the United States. Assigned to the Pacific Theater during the Second World War, the Iowa-class battle wagon participated in the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and shelled the Japanese home islands, while her quarterdeck served as the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan, ending the conflict.

She was twice returned to service, first during the Korean War and then again in the 1980s. She became a museum ship in 1998 – but actually for the second time. The warship had been maintained with the reserve fleet at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and attracted about 250,000 visitors per year.


USS Missouri Battleship

After being decommissioned for a third and almost certainly final time, a decision was made to preserve the historic vessel as a museum ship to be located at Pearl Harbor, just 500 yards from the Arizona Memorial. Initially, the National Park Service expressed concern that the battleship, whose name has become synonymous with the end of World War II, would overshadow the battleship Arizona. However, BB-63 was placed far back from the memorial and with its bow facing it – thus intended to convey that USS Missouri was watching over the remains of the Arizona, so that those interred in her hull may rest in peace. It further serves to mark the beginning and the end of the Second World War for the United States.

The retired USS Missouri underwent a three-month overhaul in 2009, while a $3.5 million project in 2018 restored and preserved the superstructure.

USS Wisconsin (BB-64)

USS Wisconsin (BB-64) was the third Iowa- class battleship to be constructed during the Second World War. Built at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she was launched on December 7, 1943 – the second anniversary of the Pearl Harbor raid. During the war she served exclusively in the Pacific, participating in the Philippines campaign and the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and shelled the Japanese home islands.

BB-64 is noted for being reactivated during the Korean War, and shelling North Korean targets in support of United Nations and South Korean ground operations. She was returned to service again in the 1980s and subsequently participated in Operation Desert Storm in January-February 1991. Along with the USS Missouri, the USS Wisconsin became the last of the American battleships to fire her guns in anger.

USS Wisconsin

As with the other Iowa-class battleships she became a museum ship – initially kept in a state of readiness should they be needed again. However, in December 2009, the U.S. Navy officially transferred Wisconsin to the city of Norfolk, Virginia, ending the requirement for the ship to be preserved for possible recall to active duty. She was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 2012.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].