A tour of the legendary USS Missouri

Tour the Mighty Mo, an Iowa-class battleship that fought in WWII, Korea, Desert Storm, and on whose decks the peace treaty between the US and Japan was signed.

Geoffrey Morrison
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
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Battleship row

The historic and celebrated USS Missouri is one of the last surviving US battleships. Not present at the attack on Pearl Harbor, she arrived shortly thereafter, in December 1944, and saw battle across the Pacific and around the world. Today you can tour the Mighty Mo, as I did. It's docked on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, on Battleship Row. The USS Arizona and its memorial rest nearby.

If you can't make it to Hawaii, you can take a tour of this incredible ship here, in these pictures.

Also check out the article about the tour.

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Big Mo

Though dwarfed by much newer aircraft carriers, the size of the Missouri is no less impressive.

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Guns, lots of guns

The nine 16-inch, 50-caliber guns each weigh as much as the Space Shuttle. Two weigh as much as a 747 aircraft. They were the largest guns fitted on a US battleship. Within 90 seconds, 27 rounds (shown in the next slide) can hit a target up to 23 miles away. Because of their design, the ship doesn't rock while firing. Wrap your head around that.

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Car launcher

Each armor-piercing shell weighs as much as a small car (2,700 pounds).

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Inside the turret

Not part of the standard tour, this is the cramped interior of the first gun turret. It extends four decks below this point.

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One gun

Had to twist to get a decent angle here. We're looking down past the breech of the barrel of one of the guns. I imagine while firing this space would be loud.

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The Surrender Deck

The deck where the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed.

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The Plaque

It reads: "Over this spot on 2 September 1945 the Instrument of Formal Surrender of Japan to the Allied Powers was signed thus bringing to a close the Second World War - The ship at that time was at anchor in Tokyo Bay. Latitude 35° 21' 17" North. Longitude 139° 45' 36" East."

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Captain's Quarters

The Captain's Quarters aren't accessible on any tour. You can, however, book the room for a special event. How cool is that? I'm guessing the projector is not original equipment. (I believe it was an Optoma.)

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Captain's bedroom

Off the main room is the Captain's spacious bedroom -- spacious for a battleship, anyway.

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Captain's galley

The Captain got his own kitchen (and staff). This mediocre photo was taken through a tiny pass-through door, which is as close as I got.

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The rear guns

The rear deck (to the left in this photo) in WWII was used for launching and recovering (with a crane) seaplanes. Now it's open and can hold special events. There was a tent set up when I was there.

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Crew's mess

Simple chairs, small tables, not much to look at, but 5,000 meals a day were eaten here.

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The 'Truman Line'

Line up and get your grub. Adorably, the Missouri hosts a program for local school kids where they can spend a night on the ship and eat meals cooked in the main galley (which is through the pass-throughs on the left).

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Down below

The main tour gets you to the main deck and up. If you want to go into the bowels of the ship, you need to go on the guided Heart of the Missouri tour. Down below you get to see the inner workings, like these heavy-duty ducts that carry, um, things ducts that carry -- like steam, maybe?

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Steampunk console

Dials, wheels, and levers to monitor the massive propulsion equipment that moves the ship. How awesome is this thing?

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More ducts and gear

The awesome steampunk console is around the corner on the right from this picture.

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The main thoroughfare of the Missouri: Broadway. It runs nearly the entire length of the ship.

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Manual toggles for electrical systems from all over the ship.

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An actual trigger

Ever wonder what it takes to fire one of those massive main guns? Well, a brass-handle with a simple trigger. That's it.

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Down the hatch

Imagine trying to get down that in a hurry.

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Boiler control

Yet another stop on the Heart of the Missouri tour: one of the massive boilers that supplied steam (and by extension water and power) to the ship.

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There's artwork all over the ship, originally done by the crew. This one, in the boiler room pictured in the last slide, is where they came up with the name for the special tour.

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Machine shop

Something about the quiet, heavy equipment and moody lighting made this room really cool.

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Wide-angle bunks

To get this shot, I used a really wide angle, but that belies the narrowness of these bunks. I wouldn't have been able to walk straight down this passage; I'd have to walk at an angle. Under each bed is a small storage space.

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Like any city, floating or otherwise, there are lots of offices. Dentists, lawyers, payroll, and more all have their own spaces. As often as they can, the Missouri museum had the occupants of these offices supply items from when they were there. Not sure if that includes the Compaq desktop you see here...

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Post Office

You've got mail.

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Location, location, location

So that big, curved wall on the right? On the other side of that is one of the gun turrets. Can you imagine having your bunk next to that?

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Back in the day...

This is what the bunks would have looked like during WWII.

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Radio room

Generally the radio room is off limits (not to us!). But a few times a year during special events, they fire up the shortwave and talk to other retired vessels.

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The Mighty Mo was decommissioned in 1992, so this is some excellent old-school computer gear.

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Officer country

The Officer's mess. The tables could double as surgical tables during an emergency.

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XO's cabin

While not as big as the Captain's Quarters, the XO (executive officer) did pretty well.

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XO's bedroom

Big bed, and a window. Not bad. He got his own private bathroom too (to the left, out of frame).

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Officer's quarters

Clearly being an officer is where it's at, though sometimes not even then. This cabin had a window, but some of the others didn't.

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The Combat Engagement Center. Tracking everything in the area, good or bad, and control of weapons both defense and offensive. I love the sign.

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No, seriously, don't push, turn, or toggle anything in here.

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You sunk my...

On this decidedly not original equipment flat panel, a short clip from the Oscar-winning drama "Battleship" can be played.

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A view up from the Tomahawk deck, where they kept the, you know, Tomahawks.

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Quite the bunker

This is the hatch to the armored section of the Navigation Bridge (see next slide).

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No sightseeing

Not much of a view. To get this shot the camera is pressed against the back wall. Even with an extreme wide angle, I couldn't get much. This room is tiny.

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Another angle

This isn't a great shot, but I wanted to show how cramped this room is. Some degree of safety comes at quite a price.

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The Navigation Bridge

The cramped room from the previous slides is behind me for this shot. Much better view from out here.

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Captain's 'At Sea' cabin

In case the Captain needed a quick nap but didn't want to be as far away as his main cabin (four decks below).

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View from the Flying Bridge

Quite a sight: the Arizona memorial, and Honolulu beyond.

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Eternal vigil

While in port, most warships face out to the sea, ready to fight. The Missouri instead faces toward the Arizona and her other fallen sisters, lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor. In over 50 years of service, through multiple wars, the Missouri never lost a hand in battle.

Return to the article about the tour here.

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