USS Missouri: The Best Battleship to Ever Sail?

USS Missouri
November 26, 2023 Topic: military Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: USS MissouriIowa-Class BattleshipBattleshipsWorld War II

USS Missouri: The Best Battleship to Ever Sail?

After Desert Storm, the USS Missouri was decommissioned again, this time for good. The decommissioning marked the end of the battleship era, and today you can still visit the Missouri, where she is docked in Pearl Harbor, as a museum ship.

For nearly one hundred years, the battleship was a fixture of the U.S. Navy. But the nature of warfare changed, the possibilities of technology expanded, and the battleship gradually became obsolete. In 1992, the Navy decommissioned its last operational battleship, the USS Missouri, and closed a notable chapter in naval history.

Some would even say this Iowa-Class Battleship was the greatest of all battleships to sail. 

Remembering the Battleship USS Missouri 

The U.S. built its first ever battleship, the USS Texas, in the late 19th century. The Texas was a pre-dreadnought battleship that the U.S. built in response to several South American nations procuring modern armored warships. The battleship quickly transcended mere military intent and entered the imagination of the American public. 

By World War One, Americans and Europeans were playing a pencil-and-paper strategy game called Battleship. You’ve probably played the version that Milton Bradley released in 1967, or the more modern Hasbro version.

And you may have seen the 2012 film Battleship, which was based on the game.

The film was an effort to recapture the franchise-spawning success of Transformers (based on a Hasbro series of toys). Directed by Peter Berg, the film starred Alexander Skarsgard, Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, and Liam Neeson. Clearly designed to appeal to mass audiences and generate commercial success, Battleship was a massive flop, losing Universal and Hasbro about $150 million. 

The compelling bit about Battleship is that the film’s climax features a prominent cameo from the USS Missouri, which a group of veterans resuscitated from its museum status in Pearl Harbor to wield against invading aliens. The ship unloads a full complement of its weaponry against the aliens, demonstrating the awesome firepower of a bygone era.

The History of the Missouri

The Missouri has an impressive history. The battleship was launched in 1944 with a sponsorship from Harry Truman’s only child, Margaret Truman.

The Missouri was sent straight to the Pacific Theater, where she participated in the Battle of Iwo Jima and the Battle of Okinawa. The Missouri was even used to shell the Japanese mainland. 

Most famously, the ship became the venue for the surrender of the Empire of Japan, marking the formal conclusion of human history’s most epic conflict.

No accomplishment could outshine hosting the Japanese surrender, but after World War II, the Missouri was used in diplomatic shows of force and for training roles. The Missouri also served in the Korean War. She was the first U.S. battleship to arrive in Korean waters and served two separate tours between 1950 and 1953. 

Then, in 1955, the USS Missouri was decommissioned and sent to the “Mothball Fleet,” or reserve fleet. The Missouri stayed mothballed for nearly three decades, until she was recommissioned and modernized in 1984. The Navy added cruise missiles, anti-ship missile launchers, and updated electronics to the battleship.

The modernized Missouri was deployed to the Persian Gulf, where she escorted oil tankers under threat from Iran. The Missouri also served in Operation Desert Storm, providing fire support. Pretty remarkable for a World War II-era vessel. 

After Desert Storm, the USS Missouri was decommissioned again, this time for good. The decommissioning marked the end of the battleship era, and today you can still visit the Missouri where she is docked, in Pearl Harbor, as a museum ship.

Harrison Kass is a prolific defense writer with over 1,000 published pieces. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

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