She's 887 feet long, displaces 45,000 tons. She's sailed all around the world and served her country for decades. She's the Mighty Mo, the USS Missouri, and her tale starts while the world was at war, and continues to this day as a piece of distinguished history.
Docked at Ford Island, in Pearl Harbor, you can tour the Missouri if you visit Hawaii. If a flight halfway across the Pacific isn't in your near future, check out this photo tour, featuring areas off-limits to normal tours.
The tour begins, oddly enough, not on Ford Island at all. There's a central visitor's center for the Missouri, the USS Bowfin submarine, the Pacific Aviation Museum ( ), and the USS Arizona Memorial. I was given a hard "no" for a photo tour of the Arizona. (You need to book way in advance.) This was good, actually. Given the somber nature of the Memorial, taking lots of photos would have been out of place.
A bus takes you across the Admiral Clarey Bridge, and deposits you on the quay, amidships. There's a self-guided tour that takes you along the top few decks, including the bridge, Officer's Country, and more.
For those wanting to see more, there's the "Heart of the Missouri" tour. This is a small-group guided tour that takes you below decks, though an engine room, a boiler room, into one of the gun turrets, and more.
me, there for CNET, I got to see a few areas off limits to any tour.
Being one of the last remaining battleships (and last built by the US), the Missouri has also been featured in movies. Though set on the Missouri, the Steven Segal classic (yeah, I said it) "Under Siege," was actually filmed on the USS Alabama and on sound stages. More recently, Peter Berg's attempt to ruin everyone's memory of "Friday Night Lights" was filmed on the Missouri. If you can suspend disbelief about aliens attacking Hawaii (absurd, they'd love the beaches), then you can also overlook that it actually took dozens of men to fire each set of cannons, not the handful of retirees in the movie.
Back to the boat
Finishing my tour, it was hard not to be awestruck at the size and complexity of the vessel. I've been on many warships, and while each is impressive in its own way, the way the battleship's purpose is so intertwined with those tremendous and iconic turrets is a special level of awe inspiring.
If you have a chance, I highly recommend checking it out. If you can't right now, I took a whole lot of pictures.
I'd like to thank my tour guide Quyen and the Missouri Memorial Association's director of Public Relations, Jaclyn Hawse, for showing me around and answering all my endless questions.
Got a question for Geoff? First, check out all the other articles he's written on topics like , , , and more. Still have a question? Send him an e-mail! He won't tell you what TV to buy, but he might use your letter in a future article. You can also send him a message on Twitter @TechWriterGeoff or Google+.