Naval history is filled with battleships that could lay claim to the crown of greatest battleship of all time. However, there are many special reasons why the USS Missouri should earn the top spot. When you think of battleships, the USS Missouri should be your priority. No other battleship has played a role in so many flashpoints and made so much history. From the surrender of Japan to mark the end of World War II to Operation Desert Storm, Missouri has served the United States with honor. This ship was highly decorated with numerous awards for its bravery. It was big and fast, and its huge guns made the enemy pay. Nicknamed the “Mighty Mo”, she was one of the largest ships ever operated by the United States Navy.
The Mighty Mo was huge
Missouri, weighing over 58,000 tons and nearly 900 feet long, was part of the Iowa class of battleships. The USS Missouri was the last battle wagon ever introduced to the Navy. Its bridge was the site of one of the most significant surrenders in modern warfare history when the Japanese signed an agreement to end the war on September 2, 1945.
Remained in the service of threatening enemy forces
But Missouri was not finished. the korean war beckoned, and the USS Missouri again answered the call. The warship first ended service in 1955. Then-President Ronald Reagan built the Navy during the Cold War and returned Missouri to service. Equipped with missile launchers, Missouri used missiles and huge shells fired from deck guns to send death to the Iraqi army during the first Gulf War. It was finally decommissioned after the Cold War in 1992 after earning 11 Battle Stars.
Made with fast steam
Launched in 1941, the Mighty Mo was built for speed – sometimes reaching 33 knots. It took significant propulsion to challenge the Japanese rapids Kongo-class battlecruisers in World War II. It was also to sail in tandem with the American Essex-class aircraft carriers. Although gigantic in size, it could even pass through the Panama Canal, giving it the ability to project power around the world.
The big guns dominated
The firepower was impressive. The USS Missouri had nine 16-inch guns, 20 five-inch guns and 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, as well as 49 20 mm anti-aircraft guns. During World War II, the Mighty Mo fired the 16-inch guns during Marine Corps amphibious landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Then he shot at the Japanese islands. It was probably the most committed during the Okinawa campaign, when he destroyed enemy aircraft, was hit by a kamikaze suicide plane, repaired the damage, and resumed bombarding the island.
It wasn’t over after the world war tow
During the Korean War, she was the flagship of the Seventh Fleet. The guns of the USS Missouri caused Communist forces in Chonjin, Tanchon, and Wonsan to suffer. After this engagement, the battleship was retired and became a museum ship in Washington State in 1955.
But Missouri was not finished. A Cold War inflection point occurred in the 1980s in which the White House Reagan wanted a navy of 600 ships. Missouri came out of retirement in style. Now equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles, it was meant to impress the Soviet Navy.
Mighty Mo played an important role in Desert Storm
The next challenge was Operation Desert Storm. The war planners of this engagement had an idea. Why not use the Missouri and other ships to simulate a sea amphibious landing, as the main force attacked the Iraqis ashore? This feint worked and immobilized a significant number of Iraqi soldiers who thought the Americans would come from the sea. But that was not all. During the Gulf War, the ship launched at least 28 cruise missiles and it rained steel. About 100 16-inch shells hit Iraqi targets.
The USS Missouri should be applauded for its distinguished service. He saw some of the most important wars in US history. Any sailor who served on the Missouri over the decades probably had fond memories of his exploits. Missouri showed that large ships could still make a difference in combat from World War II until the early 1990s, when she was finally decommissioned in 1992.
Now as 1945 Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. EastwoodPhD, is the author of Humans, Machines and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an emerging threat expert and former US Army infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.