A ‘Mighty’ Former Bremerton Resident Gets an $18M Facelift

The USS Missouri is seen in Drydock 4, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009 at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (AP Photo/The Honolulu Advertiser, Gregory Yamamoto)
The USS Missouri is seen in Drydock 4, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009 at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (AP Photo/The Honolulu Advertiser, Gregory Yamamoto)

For all of you here in Kitsap who still feel a connection to the historic USS Missouri, which was mothballed on Bremerton’s waterfront for decades, here’s a little update.

The ship was towed from its tourist spot near the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center yesterday and into a Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard drydock.

Earlier this year, the USS Missouri Memorial Association began work preserving the gray lady, on whose decks Japan signed the declaration of surrender that ended World War II. For the next three months, the ship will be cleaned up, rewired and otherwise spiffed up (if you can call $18 million worth of work “spiffed”) for the nearly half million tourists who now visit the ship ever year. They will sandblast and fortify the hull, and upgrade electrical and sewer systems. The work is being paid for with a $10 million Department of Defense grant and funds from the nonprofit USS Missouri Memorial

She’ll be back open for tours — they cost $20 per person — in December.

I visited the ship last month. They were doing early painting touch up work, but it still was open for tours.

I didn’t visit it when it was in Bremerton; I probably wasn’t old enough to appreciate it at the time. But I remember the fight when its departure from Bremerton was announced. It was downright vicious, involving a federal lawsuit and strong words from our local Congressman.

For those of you who don’t know the battleship’s history and tearful goodbye with Bremerton, here’s a synopsis:

The ship was mothballed in front of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard from 1954 to 1984. Perhaps because of the popularity of the tours and the exposure it received during the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, other cities began clamoring for visits from the Mo.

The ship was towed to Long Beach, Calif., and recommissioned in 1984. It toured the world and was deployed during the Gulf War. Its return to Bremerton was promised by then-Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III in 1989, and it came back for its second mothballing in 1992.

In 1995, the year of the 50th anniversary of Japan’s surrender 1995, several cities — including Bremerton, Pearl Harbor, and Long Beach, Calif. — petitioned to become its permanent home. Hawaii, of course, won.

Last year, 10 years after it was towed away, some Kitsap residents still felt saddened by the battleship’s departure.

No matter the argument about where the ship belongs, it serves its purpose at the Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor. As one of our commenters put it, the Missouri provides a “period” to the memorial’s statement on the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

So while I was there, taking it all in, I thought I’d bring a little back for my fellow Bremertonians. It may not be the ship, but these images from the tour are going to have to suffice. Also included at the end of the slideshow are photos of the Arizona memorial so you can read the sentence backward. (If you also have visited the Mo in Bremerton or there, e-mail me photos or post a link to them in a comment.)

One thought on “A ‘Mighty’ Former Bremerton Resident Gets an $18M Facelift

  1. Beautiful pictures…and all the same size…
    The Missouri was here most of my life, but it belonged where it is. The beginning and the end right there where it began.
    Count me as another who misses her presence here.
    Sharon O’Hara

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