USS Missouri (BB-63) returns to Bremerton for deactivation and storage on April 12, 1992.

  • By Daryl C. McClary
  • Posted 9/02/2003
  • Essay 5540
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On Sunday, April 12, 1992, the USS Missouri (BB-63) arrives under tow at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton for deactivation and storage at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.  After six years of active duty, including service in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the famous battleship is decommissioned for the second time in March 1992 at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard in California and reenters the Navy's reserve fleet. The Missouri undergoes several months of deactivation work, including the installation of dehumidification machinery, before being moored at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility on Sinclair Inlet.

The Decision to Retire

In January 1995, the "Mighty Mo," which had been largely neglected since 1992, suddenly became the object of considerable attention when the Navy decided to retire the vessel.  The Missouri and three other huge Iowa-class battleships were placed in the Navy’s ship donation program, allowing any interested community to bid for the vessels. Bremerton, along with Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, San Francisco, and Long Beach, California, all submitted proposals to the Navy for the historic battleship. The vessel had been moored at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for 30 years (1954-1984).

The Missouri was opened to the public during the summer of 1995, and received 216,149 visitors. Ceremonies commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II, were held on September 2, 1995, on the Missouri’s surrender deck. (Japan's formal surrender to the Allied Powers in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, which ended World War II, took place on the deck of the USS Missouri.)   The ship was closed to the public on September 4, the day after Labor Day.

Saying Goodbye To Mighty Mo

In August 1996, Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton decided Pearl Harbor would be the Missouri’s permanent home.  The other competing communities complained to the Navy that the selection process was flawed and unfair, but to no avail; the decision stood.

In January 1998, the Navy reopened the U.S.S Missouri for the public’s last opportunity to visit the famous ship before she left for Hawaii.  Open for only three weekends, the “Mighty Mo” received 24,000 visitors.  The Missouri departed Bremerton forever on May 26, 1998, and was towed to her new home on Ford Island near the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.


Gary A. Warner, “Big Mo to End Its Glorious Run in Bremerton,” The Seattle Times, March 1, 1992, p. A-22; “USS Missouri is Due at Shipyard Sunday, Ibid., April 10, 1992, p. E-2; “Mighty Mo Slips Quietly into Shipyard,” Ibid., April 13, 1992, p. A-1; “Navy Will Retire USS Missouri,Ibid., January 20, 1995, p. B-2; “Mighty Mo Not Likely To Stay in Bremerton,” Ibid., April 16, 1995, p. B-3; Susan Gilmore, “Mighty Mo up for grabs -- Hawaii wants Ship; Bremerton Will Fight to Keep It,” Ibid., May 15, 1995, p. A-1; “Mighty Mo Reopens to Public Viewing,” Ibid., May 21, 1995, p. B-4; “Bremerton Bids on Missouri, For Keep This Time -- The Competition: Honolulu, San Francisco,” Ibid., September 3, 1995, p. B-1; “Bremerton Bids on Battleship,” Ibid., November 2, 1995, p. B-2; Jennifer Bjorhus, William Dauber, “The Fight for a Battleship is Over – USS Missouri already being missed in Bremerton,” Ibid., August 22, 1996, p. A-1; “Bremerton Lost ‘Mighty Mo’ Unfairly, Report Suggests,” Ibid., June 5, 1997, p. B-3; Luke Timmerman, “ Bremerton Appeal for Mighty Mo Sunk – Battleship Is Headed to Pearl Harbor, Ibid., June 11, 1997, p. B-1; “Senate Turns Down Attempt to Reopen USS Missouri Question,” Ibid., , July 10, 1997, p. B-2; “Mighty Mo Tickets Dwindle,” Ibid., December 25, 1997, p. B2; Ed Offley, Taps Again for Mighty Mo as Battleship Leaves Service,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 1, 1992, p. A-3; Ed Offley, “Upkeep Fees Scuttled for 2 Bremerton Ships,” Ibid., January 21, 1995; Ed Offley, “The Present-day Battle to Snag the USS Missouri,” Ibid., September 1, 1995, p. A-5; Robert L. Jamieson Jr., “Bremerton Must Surrender Ship,” Ibid., August 22, 1996, p. B-1; “Navy Changed Rules in Siting of USS Missouri, Dicks Says,” Ibid., September 12, 1996, p. B2; Ed Offley, “ Navy Secretary Sinks Efforts to Keep Battleship; Bremerton to Lose USS Missouri,” Ibid., June 11, 1997, p. A-9.

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