She was one of the Iowa class "fast battleship" designs planned in 1938 by the Preliminary Design Branch at the Bureau of Construction and Repair. The Missouri was ordered in June, 1940 and the keel was laid at the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York on January 6, 1941. She was launched on January 29, 1944 and commissioned on June 11 as BB63. The ship was the fourth and last of the Iowa class as well as the final battleship to be commissioned by the Navy.
The "Mighty Mo" was dispatched to Pearl Harbor from Norfolk, Virginia in November, 1944 under the command of William M. Callaghan and first saw combat operations in January, 1945 as part of the protective force for the aircraft carrier Lexington. The battleship was then involved in operations around Iwo Jima and the Ryukyus from mid-February before being assigned to the Yorktown fast carrier group in March, operating in the Inland Sea. In late March the battleship was assigned to the operations around Okinawa. On April 11 the Missouri was struck by a Zero kamikaze aircraft but suffered little damage. On May 5 the Missouri was dispatched to Guam via Ulithi to pick up Admiral William Halsey, Jr before returning to Okinawa by May 27. The fleet finally retired from Okinawa in June, arriving at Leyte on June 13. On July 13 the Missouri was part of the fleet that attacked Honshu and Hokkaido, shells from the Missouri aiding in the destruction of the Nihon works at Muroran and on targets around Hichiti. The battleship was involved in strikes on northern Honshu when the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The Missouri entered Tokyo Bay on August 29.
The final surrender of Japan was accepted aboard the Missouri on the morning of September 2, 1945 by General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz from a delegation led by Mamoru Shigemitsu. The Missouri returned to Pearl Harbor on September 20.
During training on January 17, 1950 the vessel ran aground on the Thimble Shoals and was not refloated until February 1. The Missouri was deployed during the Korean War in September, 1950 and conducted shore bombardment around Samchok on September 15 before becoming part of the escort for the Valley Forge and conducting further bombardments in October (Chonjin and Tanchon) and December (Hungnam). The Missouri conducted further operations in the area until March, 1951 when she returned to Norfolk and was assigned to the Atlantic fleet. She returned to Korea in October, 1952 to conduct a series of shore bombardment operations as flagship of the 7th Fleet. Her operations around Korea continued until March 25, 1953 with the bombardment near Kojo. She returned to the Atlantic fleet in mid May.
She was decommissioned and moved to the Bremerton group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet on February 26, 1955 following a final series of visits to Portugal, Spain and Guantanamo Bay. She was reactivated and modernised from May 1985 and recommissioned on May 10, 1986. The Missouri was active in the Persian Gulf from June, 1987 and provided with additional smaller calibre weapons to deal with smaller threats. She was deployed during the Gulf War from January 1991 for shore bombardment and 28 Tomahawk missile attacks.
The Missouri was finally decommissioned on March 31, 1992 and returned to Bremerton. She was removed from the Naval Register on January 12, 1995. The vessel was donated to the Missouri Memorial Association in 1996 and transferred to Hawaii in 1998, she officially joined the Battleship Row memorial in Pearl Harbor on January 29, 1999.
Designated crew: 1,851 officers and men
Length: 270.4 metres
Beam: 32.98 metres
Draft: 11.58 metres
Height: 63.9 metres
Displacement: 41,000 tonnes (empty), 53,000 tonnes (full)
Power: 212,000 s.h.p. from four turbines
Maximum speed: 32 knots (with 10,584 gallons of fuel burned per hour)
Armament: 9 of 16" (406 mm) in three turrets; 20 of 5" (127 mm); 80 of 40 mm Bofors; 60 of 20mm Oerlikons. 1980s upgrade: 32 of Tomahawk missile launchers; 16 of Harpoon missile launchers; 4 of CIWS 20 mm turrets.