Thursday, April 20, 2017

Labor of Love

Caring for the long-term future of America’s last battleship as its foremost priority, the USS Missouri Memorial Association has initiated many preservation efforts since the organization was entrusted with her care in 1998.

Now 25 years out of service, we can assure you that preserving this historic battleship for future generations has been an ‘all hands on deck’ effort.  Here are a few of our most memorable preservation projects.

Dry Dock
Back in 2009, a three-month, $18 million preservation effort began with an approximate two-mile journey from Pier Foxtrot 5 to dry dock in the Pearl Harbor shipyard at 6:50 a.m. The process took more than 11 hours from casting off the pier to entering Dry dock 4 and required a full evacuation of water from the facility. By sunset, the battleship's formidable hull was visible outside of the water for the first time since 1992, when she was last dry docked just after her second and final decommissioning.

BAE Systems Ship Repair workers performed maintenance and preservation work on the battleship with approximately more than 200 workers a day.

The ship’s next dry dock is currently anticipated for 2030.

World Map Mural
Time and the elements took its toll on the World Map Mural in the Wardroom of the USS Missouri. Determined to restore the mural to its former glory, the USS Missouri Memorial Association and Pace Art Conservation, LLC began a process that took 276.5 man hours to complete.

The mural was originally painted in 1945, during the voyage back to the United States after the Japanese surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri ending World War II.  The map was extended in the post-1945 restorations to incorporate the Missouri’s subsequent voyages, which necessitated the expansion of the map to include the entire circumference of the earth.

Newly restored, it can still be seen in the Wardroom for our guests to study for many years to come.

Our biggest project of 2017 is the Superstructure Preservation Project. This grandeur project three years in the planning is scheduled for completion this September following 32 weeks of repair and preservation work. With a price tag of $3 million, the repair and preservation of the superstructure is the largest and most expensive project undertaken by the Association since the battleship was placed into dry dock more than seven years ago.

An estimated 17,000 pounds of steel is being replaced as well as sandblasting nearly 27,000 square feet of steel due to corrosion. The superstructure will be completely repainted with protective coatings and the addition of a rainwater drainage system will support the long-term preservation efforts.

In addition to the repair and preservation work, the Association is installing replicas of two SLQ-32 electronic warfare antennas, as well as a radome involved in the operation of remotely piloted aircraft back onto the superstructure. With the installation of these prominent items, the Association will take a major step to meeting its historical preservation goal of restoring the USS Missouri to its overall appearance on December 7, 1991.

 In Memory
Restoration of the ship to its at service state simply would not be possible without the generous help and support of her former crew.  We want to acknowledge Herb Fahr, Jr.  who served aboard Missouri from 1954 to 1955 as an Engine Man (Diesel), Petty Officer 2nd class (END2), with the Engineering Department’s A Division working out of Aft Diesel. Herb was among Missouri’s first decommissioning crew.

With the USS Missouri (BB63) Association of former crewmembers, Herb served variously as Newsletter Editor, Corresponding Secretary, Membership Chairman, Vice-President and Reunion Chairman and President from 1997 to 2000. In those roles, Herb became a vital link between former crew and the USS Missouri Memorial Association, continuously assisting with restoration projects, putting our restoration teams in touch with former crew who could advise about function and appearance of individual compartments being restored, making possible their authentic, accurate restoration and presentation.

Herb’s contribution, as well as those of all former crew who have, and continue to share their memories and knowledge of Battleship Missouri, have been the critical factor in our accurate restoration of Battleship Missouri.

Herb Fahr, Jr. passed away in 2015. We will always remember.
All hands on deck as they say- it is the Labor of Love for the USS Missouri that she still stands proud and strong in the waters of Pearl Harbor even after 73 years after her initial commissioning.

“Preservation work that has to be done to ensure the USS Missouri is being properly maintained so that future generations can better appreciate its impact on world history,” said Michael A. Carr, President and CEO of the USS Missouri Memorial Association.

The Association, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, has funded most projects entirely on its own, mainly through ticket sales from guests touring the battleship and donations.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Crew's Room

The newly renovated Crew’s Room was opened late last year. The Crew’s Room serves as a dedication to all former crewmembers of the USS Missouri and is open to all guests of the Battleship Missouri Memorial. It is a reflection of the crewmembers’ experiences and showcases the keepsakes they saved in remembrance of their time aboard.

With an emphasis on preservation, the exhibit’s focus is as seen from the perspectives and personal experiences of those who constructed and served aboard the battleship from World War II through Operation Desert Storm.
The Crew's Room utilizes historic images, video and personal “keepsakes” to illustrate and enliven the story of the world’s last active-service battleship as seen through the eyes and remembered by the three generations of Americans who worked and lived aboard.

It is designed to offer visitors a clearer understanding and personal appreciation for the experience of life at sea, far from home, in times of war and peace. By the use of and focus on a careful selection of personal keepsakes donated by former crewmembers, visitors gain their own personal insight into the nature and significance of personal experience and remembrance, and a more intimate and meaningful appreciation of history.

Here are a few examples of artifacts found in the our Crew’s Room.

Program booklet for the Commissioning ceremony of USS Missouri in New York kept by S1c Stephen Pahulick, Commissioning Plankowner who served in 4th Division, Gunnery Department.

“Buster” Campbell, ship’s baker, wrote to his wife about the surrender ceremony that he watched, with camera in hand, from his vantage point in the starboard rangefinder window of turret 2 overlooking the surrender table. 

    The “souvenir of the signing of the surrender…” was provided to Pearl Harbor shipyard workers during Missouri’s stop in Hawaii enroute home from Tokyo Bay. The small piece of teak is from the deck where the surrender was signed.

Ensign John C. Barron of 2nd Division, kept this and other radio communications as vivid reminders of his war-time service abroad Missouri. Note: this original radiogram includes the abbreviated term for “Japanese” that was used in communications during the war-time propaganda, and was increasingly used in language as a racial slur. It is included here as historical reference only.

WT1c Ernest “Ernie” Thompson of B Division, found time in the midst of war to file down a stainless steel nut into this ring, a keepsake he kept as a reminder of his service aboard Missouri during World War II.

MM3 Patrick Allen, a member of M Division, spent most of his waking hours in #2 Engine Room. This letter home gives a taste of his life at sea aboard Missouri in the midst of Operation Desert Storm.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Class of Their Own: The Four Iowa-class Battleships

The Iowa-class battleships were a class of 6 fast battleships ordered by the United States Navy in 1939 and 1940 to aid the Fast Carrier Task Forces that would operate during World War II. Four were completed- the USS Iowa, USS New Jersey, USS Missouri, and the USS Wisconsin. Two were laid down, but not completed – the USS Illinois and the USS Kentucky. Between the mid- 1940’s and the early 1990’s, the Iowa class battleships fought in a total of four major United States wars.  

(Ship closest to the camera is Iowa (BB-61). The others are (from near to far): Wisconsin (BB-64); Missouri (BB-63) and New Jersey (BB-62).

The Iowa-class battleships are the largest and last U.S. battleships to have ever been produced. Manufactured from the same design, all four ships carry the same characteristics with very minor differences on the armor. They all have three 16 inch triple gun turrets with 50 caliber guns that are the biggest the U.S. has ever built and can go as far as 23 miles using pin point accuracy with projectiles weighing 2,700 pounds at high capacity- 2 rounds per minute per gun. In addition they hold another twelve, 5 inch caliber guns in six dual mounts that can range up to 9 miles with projectiles weighing 55 pounds; shooting 15 rounds per minute per gun.

As the Missouri’s thick side-armor indicates, the Iowa-class battleships were designed in anticipation of sea-to-sea/ship-to-ship combat, but in practice during WWII and the Korean War, their main offense function and purpose became ship-to-shore, more commonly called “shore bombardment.” Additionally, their main defensive response was ship-to-air against attacking aircraft specifically during WWII. Each of the ship’s tanks could carry 2.5 million gallons of fuel oil, 35,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 200,000 gallons of potable water capacity all to perform its task in fighting wars off shore. With two five-bladed propellers 17 feet inboard and two four bladed 18’3” feet propellers outboard, the ships were built to combat any obstacles sea to land floating hours on end. To put in perspective the strength of these powerful ships, if your average car has a 300 horse power, the battleship had a total of 212,000 shaft horsepower.

(Missouri (BB-63) left, Iowa (BB-61) right; USS Missouri transferring personnel to the USS Iowa on 20 Aug. 1945, off the coast of Japan, as Big Mo was preparing for the official surrender of the Japanese Empire on 2 Sept. 1945)

The Iowa class battleships have become a cultural symbol in the United States in many different ways. Battleships were the symbol of naval dominance and national “might.” For decades these battleships were a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy.  Today, they remain a very important part of our history, the four battleships are now each a floating, living museum- inspiring and educating countless generations to come.

 To learn more about the Iowa Class Battleships please visit each of the living museum’s website:

Battleship Missouri Memorial:

Pacific Battleship Center:

Battleship New Jersey Musuem & Memorial:

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Timeless Inspiration for the Generations

Coming off the heels of the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, 2017 is a year we address the future of all that has lived on with us. In 2016 we welcomed nearly 700,000 visitors to the ship and we expect 2017 to be just as exciting.  She will forever more be sharing her story and place in history with an exciting 21st century twist. Thrilling new preservation efforts will be in full swing and never before seen displays will be featured.

The Mighty Mo is a ship for all ages, but like all things in time, we slowly lose the connection to the things of the past. In order to avoid this, the Battleship Missouri Memorial has come up with fun relatable interactive displays for generations young and old.  It is our goal to make sure that the New Year brings new insight onto those stories of the past and specifically those crews who served our country with valor and sacrifice. It is important to remind our youth of the lessons of the past for the benefit of our future.

Kicking off the New Year is Living History Day  on January 28 which commemorates two special occasions for the Mighty Mo – the battleship’s first launch in 1944 and its 18th year as a living educational maritime monument in Hawaii.

Living History Day will have something for the entire family, including live big band style music, exhibits of historic vehicles and wartime weaponry, 1940’s memorabilia, historic reenactments, photo displays from other historic sites, and oral histories from World War II witnesses and survivors.  Attendees are welcome to tour the retired battleship as well as partake in other activities provided by our event partners.  Living History Day is free for Kama`aina and Military.

For a full listing of Living History Day activities and event schedule
 take a look on our Facebook Page.