Friday, January 29, 2016

Building a Legend

Imagine standing on the deck of the Missouri in the shadows of her 16 inch guns while she is moored in the hallowed waters of Pearl Harbor. For those who are unfamiliar with her trademark feature, each gun barrel is 65 feet long and weighs 116 tons. In 50 seconds, her 16 inch guns can fire a 2,700 pound shell 23 miles with pinpoint accuracy. What exactly does that translate to? In just under a minute, one of her guns can launch a shell that is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

 If that is not impressive enough, the Mighty Mo stands 209 feet tall from keel to mast, 887 feet in length and weighs 58,000 tons when fully loaded. In comparison to the RMS Titanic, she is 5 feet longer and 18 feet wider. If the Missouri stood on end, it would be 332 feet taller than the Washington Monument. During World War II, she housed 134 officers and 2,400 enlisted sailors.
She has 4 main engines, 8 boilers, 2 five-bladed 17 feet and 5 inch inboard propellers and 2 four-bladed 18 feet and 3 inch outboard propellers. Her tank capacity is 2.5 million gallons of fuel oil, 30,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 239,000 gallons of fresh water. She contains 13.5 inches of thick steel armor plating that protects the hull, propellers and shafts. She also contains armor to protect second deck, conning tower sides and her gun turrets which is 17 inches thick in the front and 13 inches on the side. As for speed, she can sail up to 33 knots which is slightly below 40 miles per hour.

With her impressive size and massive firepower, you must be wondering what exactly went into the construction of the Mo? The Missouri was America’s last battleship ever built and she was also the most formidable. On January 6, 1941, her keel was laid down at the New York Naval Shipyard in Brooklyn, New York. By October of 1941, her bottom plating was nearly finished and by the middle of 1942, her engines and boilers were in place.

About a year later, the side tanks of the torpedo defense system became visible along with the lower armor belt. The bow was also being constructed and prepped for installation.

With just two months before launching, the Missouri’s hull was finally completed and majority of the superstructure was in frame. Splinter protection for the anti-aircraft battery was installed and the teak deck was laid.

After 175 tons of blueprint paper, 3 years and over 3 million man-days, a legend was born.


Today marks the 72nd Anniversary of the launching of the Missouri and the 17th Anniversary of when the Battleship Missouri Memorial opened to the public as a historical attraction. The USS Missouri Memorial Association’s staff and volunteers continue to work tirelessly on the restoration and preservation of the ship to ensure that her legacy continues on for generations to come.

Below are images of her as-built blueprints: