Ive been doing some research about the USS Missouri (BB-63) and, because I’ve some spare time, I’d like to share a bit of this info.
Before I start, I want to say that I’m Dutch, so please don’t note the errors in the text, thank you!
Some general info about Mighty Mo
Yes, Mighty Mo. This is one of the nicknames of the Missouri (Big Mo is the other one, but I like Mighty Mo better). The Mighty Mo was the last battleship ever to be built by the USN (United States Navy). She was finished in 1944, commissioned as Flagship and just in time to fight along in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
The Mighty Mo is the ship where the WWII officially ended: at her rear deck the Instrument of Surrender was signed at the 2nd of September 1945, 09:25.
After WWII, Mighty Mo was travelling across the globe, being present at countless (important) ceremonies. At the 17th of January 1950, the Missouri was heading to the open seas for a training mission, where some idiot ran her at a sandbank or so. She was stuck there for 2 weeks.
When in 1950 the Koreans wanted to play soldier, Mighty Mo was assigned to be present too. She was the first American battleship to be present at the Korean waters, and within 24 hours she started spitting her 16”shells towards the Korean cost (the city of Samcheok).
Personally I’m not really interested in this period, but if you want to know the details of the Korean war and the Missouri, just click the link below (a direct link to download a PDF file)
After the Korean war, the Missouri was serving as floating museum in Bremerton, Washington. With an average of 180.000 visitors a year, she was a quite popular spot for the tourists.
Reagan Administration’s program
I don’t really know a lot about this program, but the point is that the Missouri was modernized in 1984, so she could serve a little longer.
Well, after 7 years it turned out that the modernization was quite useful. In 1991 the gulf war started, and our beloved USS Missouri was sailing over the waves again towards the Middle East. And finally, on 29 January 1991 she fired her 16”guns again. The last time she fired those guns was in the Korean war (somewhere in 1953).
They liked these guns so much, that they started firing shells at the 3rd February for 3 days in a row. In these days she fired 112 shells at the beaches of Iraqi. This means that she fired somewhere near 135 TONS towards the Iraqis (each shell weights around 1200 kg). I can ensure you this hurt a lot!
In total she fired 759 rounds in the Gulf war,
After the Gulf
Since the Gulf the Missouri is resting from her job. The first 8 years she was docked at Bremerton again. At 22 June 1998 she was docked at Pearl Harbor, as she still is. (I will tell a little more about her later on)
The Missouri was an Iowa-classed battleship. This class was designed to be fast battleships, and fast she was! At her top-speed she could travel a stunning 33knots ( 61km/h or 38mph). below is a comparison with other battleships:
Iowa class 33 knot 61km/h 38mph
Bismarck class 30 knot 55km/h 34mph
Admiral class 28 knot 52km/h 32 mph
Yamato class 27 knot 50km/h 31 mph
According to a website I found, the Iowa class battleship was the best battleship ever made. (link)
And yes, I agree with them
Length: 270.4 mtr / 887.2 ft
Beam (the widest part of the ship): 33.0mtr / 108.2 ft
Draft (depth): 8.8 mtr / 28.9 ft
Belt armor (side armor of the hull): 310mm
Bulkheads (armored walls within the hull, separating compartments): 290mm
Barbettes (armor around a gun): between 290 and 440 mm
The original armament
And finally, finally we land on the part where it’s all about: Very big guns that give very big booms!
The armament of the Missouri was awesome, see the list below
The main armament consisted of 3 3-gun turrets (2 frontal, 1 rear). These guns were 16” guns.
Also she carried 20 5” guns, in twin turrets.
The anti-air defense of the Missouri consisted of 80 40mm AA guns, mostly quad-mounted
Beside the 40mm Bofors, she carried 49 20mm AA guns (weird amount, I know. I don’t know why)
The modernized armament
After the modernization in 1984, the 40mm and 20mm AA guns were all removed, and refitted with 4 20mm Phanlanx Anti Air and Anti Rocked guns.
Together with the new AA defense, she got a set of complete new toys: box- and quad launchers which could launch Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles.
The main armament
The main armament of the Missouri was the most modern in the whole pacific theatre (when she was launched) It consisted of 9 16”guns (16”/50 caliber Mark 7). The turrets were, as I said before, 3-gun and not triple. This means that every gun in a turret could be elevated and fired separately.
The turret of a ship is not only the visible part (a box with a few sticks pointing out). It’s a little bit more than that. Every turret has a ‘tower’ underneath it, where things like loading belts and shells and so are stored.
Each turret required a 94 man crew to operate and cost over 1,4 million dollars each, without the armament.
The guns were designed to shoot 2 types of ammo: AP shells, weighting 1225KG each (AP Mark 8), and HE shells, weighting around 860KG each(HC Mark 13). It seemed that the guns could fire also the Nuclear Mark 23 shells, which, I think, have the same effect as a very small atom bomb (so it should be fun to fire those once)
The barrels of the guns were 50 calibers long, so 50*406mm == 20mtr and weighted over 100.000 kg each.
The guns could spit her shells over a stunning 40 km range (with the ‘normal’ powder charge of 300kg), travelling at almost 2700 feet per second (I bet you don’t walk that fast), with a rate of 2 shells per minute.
Normally, the guns would only receive the Ford created Fire Control Computers. But, at that time the USN had developed a radar which could be combined with the rangekeeper. With this equipment, the Missouri could use her radar to track and destroy enemy targets with improved range and accuracy. Luckily, the Japanese didn’t develop such a thing, so the USN had a great advantage over them.
As secondary armament, the Missouri got 10 turrets, each carrying 2 Mark 12 5”/38 caliber guns.
These guns were somewhere near 5.5 meters long and weighted just 1800 kg each.
The shells weighted around 25 kg each, and could be fired over 16 KM with an average of 15 shells per minute.
The shells left the barrel at an average of 2500 fps.
The removed and replaced guns
When modernized in 1948, the 40mm and 20mm Boford AA guns were removed. Those guns were supposed to destroy enemy aircraft and were manually operated.
These guns were stripped from the Missouri, and replaced by 4 Phalanx CIWS systems.
These high-tech weapon systems are designed to shoot incoming aircraft AND rockets. Due the 2 radar antennas and control computer, the system can hit a hair at the other side of the world (the official range is classified). Unconfirmed sources says they have a range of 2KM, but it’s a little short if you ask me.
The CIWS can shoot her 2cm shells up to 4500 rounds per minute, which travel at a speed of 3600 feet per second. Normally the guns use AP rounds when mounted at a ship and HE rounds when used on land.
New added weapons
Together with the Phalanx CIWS, the Missouri also received 32 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 16 Harpoon missiles.
The Tomahawks are long-range missiles, which travel at a speed of 880 KM/h. The missiles are jet-powered and can be fired over a range of 2500KM, carrying a 450KG warhead. With different warheads available, this rocked can be used to destroy anything between a tree house and an underground bunker.
The Harpoon missiles are sea-to-sea missiles, designed to take out enemy vessels at 120KM. These missiles are designed to fly low over the sea, to prevent being spotted on radar and to prevent it from being shot down (at least it’s harder to hit them).
The missiles carry a warhead containing 220KG explosives.
Guided by radar and terminal homing, this missile almost reaches 100% accuracy.
The USS Missouri now
After the Gulf War, the USS Missouri was retired from service and is resting from her hard work. The first years of her retirement, she spent at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard , Bremerton, Washington state. At 12 January 1995 she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register, so she could not be put into action again.
On 4 May 1998 the Missouri was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association. She was towed to fresh water, to clean the hull from salt-water organisms and finally at the 22th of June, 1998 she was docked at her place in Pearl Harbor, where she is at only 500 meters from the Arizona Memorial. The Missouri is placed in such a way that she is facing the Arizona Memorial and she is guarding over the people who died in the Arizona’s hull, so they can rest in peace.
In 2009 she left her retirement place and she headed towards the Pearl Harbor Navy Shipyard, where she was overhauled. In 2010 she was back on her station, on Battleship Row.
In total she deserved three battle stars during WWII, five during the Korean War and three during the Gulf War. Besides those battle stars she received loads of other awards.
After all she is resting and guarding the dead.
I hope you liked reading and there might be a research on the USS Arizona also (depends on the spare time I have)
Greetings and see you on the ocean sailors!