Sunday, January 26, 2020
The USS Missouri Battleship is moored at a dock on Ford Island. The whole island is a US Military Base. Island access by the general public is forbidden. As a result, visitors should not attempt to drive directly to the battleship. Vehicle access to the island is over the Ford Island Bridge. In the middle of the bridge is a US Military Base entrance guarded by humorless gun toting US Marines.
Instead, battleship visitors should go to the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites Visitor Center to get tickets before catching the shuttle bus over to Ford Island.
Visitor Center parking spaces are limited so the parking lot is often full. Limited street parking can be found further down the road from the Visitor Center. Parked cars do get broken into. Don’t leave valuables in plain sight.
All visitors enter the Visitor Center through a security checkpoint. Visitors are limited in terms of what they can bring inside the Visitor Center area. No large purses. No camera bags. Refer to Bag Policy and Safety Information for the current rules.
At the bus/shuttle stop, visitors present tickets. The same bus makes stops at the USS Missouri Battleship and the Aviation Museum.
At the battleship stop, passengers are dropped a few hundred yards from the battleship entrance. On the way to the battleship, visitors pass the Admiral Nimitz statue.
While the total annihilation of the USS Arizona Battleship during the December, 1941 attack symbolizes the start of World War II in the United States, the end of World War II in September, 1945 is symbolized by the USS Missouri Battleship. The Japanese surrendered unconditionally to the United States on the USS Missouri. Admiral Nimitz represented the United States at the surrender. Admiral Nimitz signed the instrument of surrender. The Japanese surrendered to Admiral Nimitz.
It is fitting that the USS Arizona Memorial is in plain view from the Mighty Missouri’s gangplank and forward decks. The victor standing watch over the fallen. The beginning and the end.
Visitors can see the actual spot on deck where the formal surrender took place.
Also visible from the USS Missouri’s decks is the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum‘s control tower. The control tower is the red and white striped vertical cylinder located in the upper right hand corner of the above picture.
It is hard to grasp battleship gun size until standing next to them on deck.
The main deck guns on the Missouri fire shells 16 inches in diameter that can hit targets up to 23 miles away. The 2,300 pound armor piercing bullets weigh as much as a small car. In WW II, the gun barrels could fire roughly 290 shots before needing replacement. In later years, after the gunpowder was changed, the number increased to 350. For more information, see Armament of the Iowa-class battleship. The battleship had a top speed of nearly 40 MPH and could fire its weapons accurately running full bore.
It may not have occurred to visitors that battleships might be like over-sized RVs with over-sized power cables, water hoses and sewer connections. But there you have it.
A number of guided and self-guided tour options are available for visitors. Only the self-guided Main Deck Tour was done on this visit. The other two self-guided tours are Below Decks and Above Decks tours. Visitors go inside the battleship to look around. Self guided tour maps/brochures are available as visitors reach the main deck off the gangplank.
It has been twelve years since I’ve done each of the self-guided tours. The inside tours require climbing up and down steep ladders. Getting through some of the spaces requires hunching and stepping to get past hatches. It takes care to avoid head-banging and knee-crunching. All of the self-guided tours are worthwhile.
A short 35 minute guided tour is included in the regular admission price. Regardless of the tour/admission options chosen, visitors can still do the self guided tours, hanging out as long as they like.
The Heart of the Missouri Tour, a longer 90 minute tour, shows the inside of a gun turret and the engine room in addition to other stops. I plan to do this tour on my next visit.
Tour information can be found at the Battleship Missouri Memorial website.
On the dock, there is a nice gift shop selling snacks and souvenirs. The clerk was nice and helpful. There is a shaved ice stand. It is on the left corner of the gift shop in the above picture. It was closed in the morning we were there.
In the picture above, the front of Slider’s Grill (menu) food truck can be seen poking out from behind the right side of the Pearl Canteen dining area. They weren’t open either the morning we were there. They sell hot dogs, burgers, fries, drinks and other fast foods.
This is another location to keep returning to whenever on Oahu.
Hope to see you on the road ahead.