O‘ahu Museum Ideas: Throw a Pier Party at the Battleship “Missouri” Memorial
Best known as the site of the official end of World War II, the USS Missouri makes a perfect bookend to the USS Arizona Memorial just a few hundred yards off its bow.
Launched in 1944, decommissioned in 1955, restored to duty in 1986—it went on to lay down fire support in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm—the Mighty Mo has drawn crowds eager to be awed by the sheer size and majesty of the 887-foot-long, 108-foot-broad, 58,000-ton (when fully loaded) battlewagon. The renovated navigation bridge now reflects its state on Dec. 7, 1998, when the ship made its final voyage to Pearl Harbor. For an immersive audio experience, loudspeakers at the bridge’s various stations broadcast a recording of the moment’s actual commands, whistles and call signs. “It’s chicken skin,” says Jaclyn Hawse, director of communications and business development at the USS Missouri Memorial Association.
The wheelchair-accessible main deck wardroom is now an interactive exhibit with videos, walls lined with stories and 360-degree virtual LCD 3D displays of the ship in its three battle configurations: WWII, Korean War and Desert Storm. Displays range from well-worn “surrender cards” donated by sailors who witnessed the end of WWII to a section honoring Japan’s feared kamikaze pilots.
“Most of our work, if not all, is the preservation of this huge artifact that we are lucky enough to have in our Hawaiian waters,” says Hawse. “Rust is our biggest enemy and weather is our competition.” The entire ship must be air-conditioned to offset the humidity that enables corrosion. That recent yearlong renovation of the superstructure cost $3.5 million. And guess what? “No taxpayer dollars ever come our way,” she says. “The majority of our funding comes through our front gate.”
The reason the ship pays for itself is its popularity. For the couple of hours (at least) it takes to explore the various decks, time seems to pause. It’s hard to tear yourself away (and not just because it’s air-conditioned).
Picnic on the Pier. Held during the summer, the sunset events include live music, food trucks, tours and keiki activities.
Visit for free on Living History Day. The annual event, typically in January, includes actors in period outfits, presentations and is free for kama‘āina.
Founded January 1999
Info Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, (808) 455-1600, ext. 251, ussmissouri.org
Hours (Updated Dec. 16, 2020) Open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.
Admission Mighty Mo Pass: $29.99 adult, $13.99 child (4–12); kama‘āina and military $23 adult, $11 child; uniformed military free.
Square footage 36,482 square feet
Annual visitors 600,000
Run by The USS Missouri Memorial Association, a 501(c)(3)
Fun fact Despite on-screen claims, the Missouri was not in the Steven Seagal film Under Siege. But it was in Battleship.
READ MORE STORIES BY DON WALLACE