Tag Archives: USS Missouri

Mighty Mo and ADM Nimitz, together again

35 Years Ago Today, Gulf of Oman: Below we see a classic “Sea Power” image showing a bow view of the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) underway astern of the Iowa-class battleship USS Missouri (BB-63), with the latter’s Turret No. 3 starboard 16″/50 caliber gun framing the shot. A Spruance class destroyer photobombs in the distance.

Note the Cold War classic dungarees on Iowa’s stern, along with the A-6 and S-3 rich airwing carried by Nimitz. You can almost hear “Danger Zone” in the distance. U.S. Navy photo DNST9300653 by PHAN Brad Dillon. National Archives Identifier: 6485327.

Of course, not far from Missouri’s Turret No. 3 stands a marker denoting the location where representatives of the Empire of Japan signed the instrument of surrender ending WWII before the assembled Allied representatives. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz (USNA 1905), who led the Pacific Fleet to that victory, was aboard that day and revisited the spot at least once again, in 1954.

While Nimtz would pass in 1966, at which point Missouri was in mothballs and likely never to return to service, the huge carrier that bears his name was ordered in 1967 and is still kicking while “Mighty Mo” would in fact be reactivated in the 1980s for one last hurrah.

38 Special Standing By: Mine No More

Below we see the watercolor entitled “Mine No More” by Chip Beck, showing, “An Iraqi mine is blown in place by U.S. Navy EOD divers from USS Missouri as USS Curtis [sic] hovers in the background in the northern Arabian Gulf.”

NHHC Accession #: 91-159-D

The painting is based on a real photograph and depicts the long-hull Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Curts (FFG-38) hard at work in the Persian Gulf some 30 years ago today.

14 January 1991: The Persian Gulf – An Iraqi mine is detonated by an explosives ordnance disposal team near Curts during Operation Desert Storm. (U.S. Navy photo DVID #DN-SN-91-09317 by PH3 Brad Dillon)

During Desert Storm, Curts was very busy, supporting a mix of Navy and Army helicopters to capture the 51-man Iraqi garrison on occupied Qaruh Island, Kuwait. While the speck of land, just 275 meters long by 175 meters wide, is tiny, Qaruh was symbolically important as it was the first section of Kuwaiti liberated in Desert Storm on 21 January.

Curts also reportedly destroyed two mines, sank an Iraqi minelayer, and provided further support to combat helicopter operations during the Battle of Bubiyan Island.

Part of the Missouri Battleship Group, Curts, used her sonar to gingerly lead USS Missouri (BB-63) northward to get within striking range of Iraqi strongpoints ashore. Missouri gun crews then sent 2,700-pound shells crashing into an Iraqi command and control bunker near the Saudi border. It marked the first time the battlewagon’s 16-inch guns had been fired in combat since March 1953 off Korea. Missouri‘s gun crews returned to action 5 February, silencing an Iraqi artillery battery with another 10 rounds. Over a three-day period, Missouri bombarded Iraqi strongholds with 112 16-inch shells.

For her part, Curts received the Navy Unit Commendation for her exceptional operational performance, as well as the Admiral Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy.

Decommissioned in 2013 after three decades of hard service, “38 Special” was slated for possible transfer to Mexico but has since been placed on the list of target ships. Laid up at Pearl Harbor, she will likely be expended in an upcoming RIMPAC Sinkex.

Get to the choppa: Battlewagon edition

An SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter is secured by flight deck crewmen aboard the battleship Iowa (BB-61) on 1 Sep 1985. Official USN photo # DN-ST-86-02511, by PHC Jeff Hilton,

The Iowa-class battleships received official helicopter pads and a helicopter control station below their after 5-inch director–although no hangar facilities– in the 1980s during their Lehman 600-ship Navy modernization.

The helicopter control station on the 02 level of the battleship Iowa (BB-61). Official USN photo # DN-ST-86-09557, by PH1 Jeff Hilton

They used them to host visiting Navy SH-60 and SH-2s, as well as the occasional Marine UH-1, CH-46, and CH-53 while also running their own early RQ-2A Pioneer UAV detachments–to which Iraqi units would later surrender to during the 1st Gulf War. 

Crew members on board the battleship USS Iowa (BB 61) prepare an HSL-32 SH-2F Seasprite helicopter for launch from the fantail of the ship during NATO Exercise Northern Wedding in August 1986. NNAM photo

Crew members aboard Iowa (BB-61) wait for a Helicopter Light Anti-Submarine Squadron 34 (HSL-34) SH-2F Seasprite helicopter to be secured before transporting a badly burned sailor injured during NATO exercise North Wedding 86. Official USN photo # DN-ST-87-00280, by PH1 Jeff Hilton

CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter approaches the landing area at the stern of the battleship USS IOWA (BB 61)

A CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter is parked on the helicopter pad during flight operations aboard the battleship USS IOWA (BB-61).

A U.S. Marine Corps Boeing Vertol CH-46D Sea Knight (BuNo 154023) of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (HMM-165) prepares to land aboard the battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64). The helicopter was transporting Allied military personnel who were coming aboard the ship to be briefed by Wisconsin´s Commanding Officer, Capt. D.S. Bill. The meeting was taking place during the 1991 Gulf War. 6 February 1991 Navy Photo DN-ST-92-07868 by PH2 Robert Clare, USN

The curator of the Battleship New Jersey Museum tours the ship’s helicopter deck.


However, the 1980s-90s by far was not the first time those dreadnoughts sported whirly-birds.


Back in 1948, while the ships still had floatplane catapults and a quartet of Curtiss SC-2 Seahawk floatplanes on their stern, USS Missouri (BB-63) accommodated a visiting experimental Sikorsky S-51, piloted by D. D. (Jimmy) Viner, a chief test pilot for Sikorsky.

Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter (Bureau # 122527) landing on Missouri’s forward 16-inch gun turret, during the 1948 Midshipmen’s cruise. Guard mail, ships’ newspapers, and personnel were exchanged via helicopter while the Midshipmen’s cruise squadron was at sea. Most exchanges were made by hovering pick-up. The forward turret was used as a landing platform since the floatplane catapults on the ship’s fantail prevented helicopters from operating there. The photo was filed on 13 September 1948. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-706093

With the cats deleted in the early 1950s, the Iowas saw more HO3s, now equipped with folding blade rotors and externally-mounted rescue hoists.

USS New Jersey (BB-62) A Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter of squadron HU-1 takes off from the battleship’s afterdeck, while she was operating off Korea. The upraised green flag signifies that the pilot has permission to take off. Crash crew, in yellow helmets, are standing by with fire hoses ready. This helicopter is Bureau # 124350. The photograph is dated 14 April 1953. The photographer is Lt. R.C. Timm. 80-G-K-16320

USS Iowa (BB-61) steams out of Wonsan harbor, Korea, after a day’s bombardment. The photograph is dated 18 April 1952. Note HO3S helicopter parked on the battleship’s after deck. Also, note the WWII catapults are deleted but the floatplane crane is still on her stern. NH 44537

USS Wisconsin (BB-64) snow falling on the battleship’s after deck, 8 February 1952, while she was serving with Task Force 77 in Korean waters. Note 16″/50cal guns of her after turret, and Sikorsky HO3S-1 helicopter parked on deck. Photographed by AF3c M.R. Adkinson. 80-G-441035

Four Marine HO4S/H-19 (Sikorsky S-55) and one Navy HO3S/H5 on the fantail of USS Missouri during the Korean War, 1952. The H-19s are likely of HMR-161, which largely proved the use of such aircraft in Korea. 


New Jersey also supported the occasional helicopter during her reactivation in the Vietnam war. Notably, she received 16-inch shells and powder tanks from USS Mount Katmai (AE-16) by H-34 helicopter lift, the first time heavy battleship ammunition had been transferred by helicopter at sea.

New Jersey (BB-62) underway off the Virginia Capes with an SH-3D Sea King from HS-3 “Tridents”, (attached to the Randolph CVS-15 and a squadron of CVSG-56), about to land on the fantail. However, it is more likely that the helicopter flew out to the “Big J” from NAS Norfolk. Official Navy Photograph # K-49736, taken by PH3 E. J. Bonner on 24 May 1968, via Navsource.

Two UH-1 Huey helicopters resting on the fantail of the New Jersey (BB-62) during her service in December 1968 off Vietnam. Courtesy of Howard Serig, via Navsource.

But wait, old boy

With all that being said, it should be pointed out that it was the Brits who first successfully used a helicopter on their last battlewagon, HMS Vanguard, in 1947, a full year before Missouri’s first rotor-wing visit.

Sikorsky R-4 Hoverfly landing on the quarterdeck of HMS Vanguard on February 1, 1947 off of Portland Bill.

Landing a Sikorsky R4 helicopter on the aft deck of the battleship Vanguard February 1, 1947

And Vanguard would go on to operate both RN FAA Westland WS-51 Dragonflies and USN Piasecki HUP-2s on occasion in the 1950s.

The more you know…

Battlewagon in the anti-ship missile age, 29 years ago today

While primitive guided bombs and missiles were fielded in WWII (see = the U.S. Navy’s SWOD-9 Bat and the sinking of the Italian battleship Roma in 1943 by an air-launched Fritz X) it wasn’t until the P-15 Termit (NATO: SS-N-2 Styx) was developed by the Soviets in 1958 that a reliable surfaced-launched anti-ship missile was fielded. Soon answered in the West by the Swedish Saab Rb 08 and Israeli Gabriel in the 1960s, then by more advanced platforms such as Exocet and Harpoon, such weapons replaced coastal artillery batteries as well as surfaced-launched torpedos as the principal means for asymmetric forces to effect a “kill” on a capital ship.

Likewise, the age of the dreadnought and large all-gun-armed cruiser was fading at the same time.

The four Iowa-class fast battleships were mothballed in 1958 (but, of course, New Jersey would be brought back for a tour in Vietnam while all four would be returned to service in the 1980s for the Cold War– more on that later) while the British retired HMS Vanguard in 1960 while the Soviets had gotten out of the battlewagon biz in the late 1950s after their Italian trophy ship Novorossiysk (ex-Giulio Cesare) blew up and their circa 1911 Gangut-class “school battleships” finally gave up the ghost. The French held on to Jean Bart until 1970, although she had been in reserve since after the Suez affair in 1956.

With that, it was no surprise that when the quartet of Iowas was reactivated in the 1980s to play a role in Reagan’s 600-ship Navy, they were “modernized” with 32 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from eight funky four-shot armored box launchers as well as 16 Harpoon anti-ship missiles in place of some of their WWII-era retired AAA gun mounts. In a nod to the facts, the missiles all out-ranged the battleships’ gun armament.

Fast forward to the 1st Gulf War and Mighty Mo, USS Missouri (BB-63), chunked 28 Tomahawks and 783 rounds of 16-inch shells at Saddam’s forces while dodging a Persian Gulf filled with naval mines of all flavors– as well as the occasional anti-ship missile counterfire.

16-inch (410 mm) guns fired aboard the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63) as night shelling of Iraqi targets takes place along the northern Kuwaiti coast during Operation Desert Storm. Date 6 February 1991. Photo by PH3 Dillon. DN-ST-91-09306

As for Missouri, the Iowas were not able to carry Sea Sparrow point defense launchers as they could not be shock-hardened to deal with the vibration from the battleship’s main guns, so they had an air defense provided by soft kill countermeasures such as chaff, decoys, and ducks; along with a quartet of CIWS 20mm Phalanx guns and five Stinger MANPAD stations– meaning a modern anti-ship missile would have to be killed either by an escort or at very close range. Good thing the Iowas had as much as 19.5-inches of armor plate!

While closing in with the enemy-held coastline to let her 16s reach out and touch someone on 23 February 1991, Missouri came in-range of a battery of shore-based Chinese-made CSS-C-2 Silkworm anti-ship missiles. One missed while the second was intercepted by Sea Darts from a nearby screening destroyer, the Type 42-class HMS Gloucester (D96). The intercepted Silkworm splashed down about 700 yards from Missouri.

USS Missouri under Attack by Iraqi Silkworm Painting, Oil on Canvas Board; by John Charles Roach; 1991; Framed Dimensions 28H X 34W Accession #: 92-007-U
Official caption: “While providing gunfire support to harass the Iraqi troops in Kuwait in preparation for a possible amphibious landing, USS Missouri (BB-63) was fired upon by an Iraqi Silkworm anti-ship missile. By the use of infrared flares and chaff, the missile’s guidance was confused. It crossed close astern of Missouri and was engaged and shot down by HMS Gloucester (D-96).”

The AP reported at the time:

Royal Navy Commander John Tighe told reporters two Sea Dart missiles were fired by the Gloucester less than 50 seconds after the ship’s radar detected the incoming Iraqi missiles at about 5 a.m.

Tighe said one Sea Dart scored a direct hit, destroying the Iraqi missile. He said a second missile launched by the Iraqis veered into the sea.

The commander said allied airplanes subsequently attacked the Silkworm missile launch site. He said that while he had not received a battle damage assessment, he was ″fairly confident that site will not be used to launch missiles against the ships again.”

Missouri did take some damage that day, from CIWS rounds fired by the escorting frigate USS Jarrett (FFG-33), which had locked on to one of the battleship’s chaff clouds and opened fire. One sailor was wounded by 20mm DU shrapnel.

Today, battleships left the Naval List for the final time in 1995 and all that made it that far are preserved as museums. The missiles, however, endure.

USPS gives a salute to Mighty Mo

Next year, this will be my go-to Forever stamp:

And they did it in Measure MS-32/22D camo!

The USS Missouri (BB 63) stamp will celebrate the nation’s “*Last Battleship.”

The release will coincide with the 75th anniversary of Missouri’s 11 June 1944, commissioning. The stamp art depicts Missouri in the disruptive camouflage she wore from her commissioning until a refit in early 1945. Missouri earned numerous combat awards and citations during her decades of service, which include World War II, the Korean War and Operation Desert Storm. She played a momentous role when she hosted the ceremony marking Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II. Designed by art director Greg Breeding, the stamp features a digital illustration by Dan Cosgrove.

How about a closer look at her late-WWII scheme for comparison?

Looks like Cosgrove did a great job. For reference: The U.S. Navy Iowa-class battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) during battle practice in Chesapeake Bay on 1 August 1944. She is wearing Camouflage Measure 32 Design 22D. (U.S. Navy photo 80-G-453331)

*Last Battleship: Wisconsin (BB-64), while ordered later than BB-63, commissioned 16 April 1944, two months before Missouri, while both follow-on sisterships USS Illinois (BB-65) and USS Kentucky (BB-66) never made it into the fleet. Further, Missouri decommissioned 1 March 1992, after all of her sisters went cold in 1990-91. In result, “Mighty Mo” was the final battleship to be completed by or operated for the United States, though not the last dreadnought built overall as the RNs short-lived HMS Vanguard commissioned post-war on 12 May 1946.

Vale, Capt. Kaiss

Capt. Albert L. Kaiss, in effect the last dreadnought skipper in any Navy, had five afloat commands including the destroyer USS Paul F. Foster (DD-964), the cruiser USS William H. Standley (CG-32), and the battleship Missouri— the latter, twice.

Kaiss recommissioned “Mighty Mo” as her 20th skipper in 1986 then left her in the hands of Capt. James Carney as he went on to command the hospital ship USNS Mercy.

Captain (CAPT) Albert L. Kaiss, commanding officer of the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB 63), speaks during the ship’s recommissioning 10 May 1986 PH2 Michael D.P. Flynn National Archives DN-SN-86-06997

Carney later subsequently handed over command of Missouri to Capt. John Chernesky in 1988.

Kaiss returned to Missouri on 13 June 1990 and took her to war for one final time as her 23rd commander. Kaiss steamed the battleship to the Persian Gulf from the West Coast, arriving 3 January 1991, and remaining until 21 March.

“We fired 783 16-inch salvos and 28 Tomahawk missiles at the Iraqis,” said Kaiss, then 51, on the eve of her decommissioning. “I’m proud of every sailor who served with me during the Persian Gulf War. We came home with the same number of people we left with, and none of our personnel was injured,” he noted. “Now we’re part of the history of this great ship.”

Kaiss, the last sailor to leave the ship on 31 March 1992, retired alongside her a few months later, a feat which led him to be described by the U.S. Navy Memorial as the last battleship sailor.

He just recently passed on 25 July, aged 78.

A survivor

Official U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-K-4510, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Great original color photo of battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) Gunner’s Mate Second Class Charles J. Hansen working on one of the big Iowa-class dreadnought’s 40mm quad Bofors machine gun mounts, during the battleship’s shakedown period, circa August 1944.

Note his tattoos, commemorating service on USS Vincennes (CA-44) and shipmates lost with her in the Battle of Savo Island on 9 August 1942.

If Hansen was still aboard “The Mighty Mo” when the surrender ceremony was held on her stern the just 13 months and 11 battlestars after this image was shot, he no doubt thought things had come full circle.

Missouri, redux

Missouri, meet Missouri:

180126-N-LY160-0243 PEARL HARBOR (Jan. 26, 2018) The crew of the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN 780) renders honors to the Battleship Missouri Memorial following a homeport change from Groton, Conn. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael H. Lee/Released)

The Iowa-class battlewagon USS Missouri (BB-63) was the third U.S. Navy ship to carry the name, which she picked up at her christening 29 Jan 1944, sponsored by Ms. Mary Margaret Truman. The Mighty Mo, some 887-feet of floating firepower, received a total of 11 battle stars for service in World War II (where she hosted the Japanese surrender), Korea, and the Persian Gulf, and was finally decommissioned on 31 March 1992 after serving just 16 of those years on active service and the rest in mothballs. Her name was stricken from the Navy List in January 1995 and she has been a museum vessel, the final battleship to be moored at Pearl’s Battleship Row, since 1998. There, she watches over the remains of the USS Arizona.

The current Missouri, now also stationed in Hawaii, was commissioned in 2010.

The previous namesakes are BB-10, a Maine-class battleship commissioned in 1902 and scrapped in 1922 as a result of the looming Washington Naval Treaty; and the first Missouri, a short-lived 10-gun sidewheel frigate commissioned in in 1842 and destroyed in an accidental fire at Gibraltar the next year.

The accidental Burning of the USS Missouri in Gibraltar – pub by Ackerman in 1843 pic by Duncan, Edward, 1803-1882 (artist) and TG Mends, Anne S.K Brown Military Collection https://library.brown.edu/cds/catalog/catalog.php?verb=render&id=1194650832375000

71 years ago today, WWII meets WWI during the Cold War at the crossroads to the world

National Archives image 80-G-366179.

In early April 1946 the battleship USS Missouri (BB 63), at the center of this photo, arrived at Istanbul in Turkey to return the body of the Turkish ambassador Mehmet Munir Ertegun from the U.S. and to show U.S. support and willingness to defend Turkey. The famous Dolmabahce Mosque is in the foreground. Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, was aboard and the trip also reinforced to the Soviets that the U.S was keenly interested in Middle East politics.

The destroyer USS Power (DD 839) is at left, and the 25,000-ton Turkish battlecruiser Yavuz (formerly the German Moltke-class Goeben) is at right. Missouri, of course, was the brand new Iowa-class battleship that hosted the Japanese surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay that ended World War II.

Yavuz had her own interesting history at the beginning of the First World War.

Ordered in 1909, the SMS Goeben sailed to fame in 1914 as a “ship of destiny” when– commanded by Konteradmiral Wilhelm Souchon– she led the British and French around the Med until she was interred at Constantinople.
Still under German command and manned by her original crew (now wearing fezzes), she was officially renamed Yavuz Sultan Selim and served as the flag of the Ottoman Navy– but sailed without Turkish orders in October 1914 to plaster the Russian Black Sea fleet at harbor, bringing the Turks into the war. Wrecked by mines in 1918, the Germans left her a largely worn out vessel when they pulled out at the Armistice. Repaired in the 1920s, she was returned to service with an all-Turk crew in the new republic’s Navy. In 1936 she was renamed simply Yavuz.

Decommissioned in 1950, she was scrapped in 1973, after the West German government declined an invitation to buy her back from Turkey. As such, she was the last surviving ship built by the Imperial German Navy and the longest-serving dreadnought-type ship in any navy

Mighty Mo’s fire room

Via Battleship Missouri Memorial

The four fire rooms aboard the Iowa-class fast battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) contain eight Babcock & Wilcox M-Type water tube boilers that operated at 600 pounds per square inch with a maximum super-heater outlet temperature of 875 °F. Steam was normally transmitted to four engine rooms numbered 1 to 4.

Each engine room was aft of its associated fire room. At normal cruising speed, steam was transmitted to the four engine rooms using four boilers–sufficient to power the ships at speeds up to 27 knots. For higher speeds, extra snipes poured in and all eight boilers were lit– allowing her to touch 32 knots at full load and broach 35.2 on a light one. Not bad for a ship with a standard displacement of 45,000-tons.

The propulsion plant on Iowa and Missouri consisted of four General Electric cross-compound steam turbine engines, each driving a single shaft and generating a total of 212,000 shp. (Turbines for New Jersey and Wisconsin was provided by Westinghouse).

Although on the Navy List from 29 January 1944 to 12 January 1995, she was in commission for only 16 years– high mileage for her class– though she did earn 16 battle/service stars, dropped steel rain on the heads of Japanese, North Koreans and Iraqis alike, and hosted the surrender ceremony that ended WWII.

Since 1998, she has been moored overlooking USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, the Omega to her Alpha.  On eternal watch over Battleship Row.


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