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Battleship continues to mesmerize millions

By Paige L Jinbo

Every day more than 1,500 people — tourists and locals alike — continue to make the trek to the historic waters of Pearl Harbor to roam the decks of the world’s largest battle ship: the USS Missouri.

“The sheer power of this ship, once you step on, is overwhelming,” said Brandt Hudson. Hudson, traveling from Indiana, made sure to make the USS Missouri a destination point while vacationing in the islands. “It’s not only that this ship is huge, but the history that lives within these walls and floors can’t even be put into words.”

For almost 20 years, since its final decommission in 1992, more than one million people have visited the USS Missouri annually. Many people are known to also call it the Mighty Mo.

With 64 years of history contained within the ship, tour guides assure that the Mighty Mo is not just a must-see, but a must-do.

“It’s simply just a historic place that people love to visit,” said Sid Mclain, tour guide for the USS Missouri. “There’s nothing that comes close to this.”

Since the Ford Island bridge was constructed in 1998, visitor traffic has steadily increased. Before this, there was only a ferry available to take visitors from the Arizona Memorial to the Mighty Mo. The ferry made the trip only five times a day.

However, now there’s a tour bus departing every 20 minutes to shuttle anxious tourists to the largest ship in the world. According to Rich Costick, tour guide for the USS Missouri, from bow to stern the ship spans 887 feet.

The reason for its popularity

For $20 — $15 for locals — visitors can meander through 54 different rooms, from the bread room and bakery to the tight quarters of the turrets. With two decks at five different levels, an entire tour of the ship may last more than two hours.

“This battleship is a significant piece of history,” Hudson said. “My wife and I are humbled to just be standing in these halls.”

While the majority of the ship is accessible to the public, the Kamikaze Attack Site and the Surrender Deck have remained the popular areas for visitors.

A brief history

According to a brief document hanging from the ship’s hull summarizing the Kamikaze Attack, on April 11, 1945 one pilot took aim at the USS Missouri. Although the Missouri gun crews held steady in fending off the lone Kamikaze pilot, the aircraft crashed onto the main deck. The nose of the fighter plane struck hard into the steel hull of the ship and the hub of the propeller sliced into the deck.

Although the ship has been reconditioned several times, the scars from Japan’s Kamikaze attack are still visible.

Also located on the main deck is the “site of surrender of the Empire of Japan which ended World War II.” Japan’s instrument of surrender is on display for visitors to peruse.

Visitors are sure to get their money’s worth as tour guides ensure that their visitors are deeply educated regarding the events that took place on the USS Missouri.

“We like to tell the story of the ship,” Costick said. “We don’t want stories being propagated that aren’t factual. We want it to be a reflection of history.”

Tour guides and volunteers of the USS Missouri are certain that they’ll always have a steady number of visitors daily.

“People know that when they come to Hawaii they have to see the Missouri,” said Greg Taylor, a greeter at the USS Missouri. “This ship is a symbol of America.”