The Honorable John H. Dalton, secretary of the navy, signed the donation contract today officially transferring the historic battleship Missouri (BB 63) to the USS Missouri Memorial Association (MMA) of Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Association plans to tow the ship from Bremerton, Wash., to Hawaii in mid-May to transform the ship into a memorial museum at Pearl Harbor.
"I am pleased to see this transfer completed," commented Dalton.
"I am confident that the Missouri Memorial Association and the people of the state of Hawaii will provide the battleship Missouri with the honored position in history that she holds."
Prior to her final voyage across the Pacific Ocean, Missouri will be towed to a mooring on the Columbia River at Astoria, Ore., where freshwater will eliminate marine saltwater organisms that might have accumulated on the ship's hull over the years.
The battleship is expected to arrive in her new home of Pearl Harbor by June 22 where "Mighty Mo" will be repainted and refurbished by the MMA into the Battleship Missouri Memorial, scheduled to open to the public in January 1999.
Missouri was commissioned June 11, 1944, and served her country from 1944-1955.
In 1986, following her recommissioning and modernization, she served for an additional six years to help provide for an expanded 600-ship Navy demonstrating global U.S. naval presence.
Missouri won many awards for the noteworthy actions of her crew including: three battle stars during World War II for activities in Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and on the mainland of Japan, as well as five additional battle stars for gunfire support missions during the Korean conflict.
"Mighty Mo" was again called to arms in response to the crisis in the Arabian Gulf where, on Jan. 17, 1991, she fired Tomahawk missiles at Iraqi-held targets and later fired her 16-inch guns in support of shore-based ground units.
Although many great battles were won thanks to this mighty dreadnought, Missouri is best remembered as a symbol of peace.
It was on her teakwood deck on Sept. 2, 1945 that Gen. Douglas MacArthur officially accepted the formal "Instrument of Surrender" from the Japanese to end World War II.
The importance of her role as peacekeeper was highlighted by her last operational mission when she visited Pearl Harbor in honor of the 50th year remembrance of those who died on Dec. 7, 1941.
It was a rare sight to see the Arizona Memorial and Missouri, symbols of the "beginning and the end" of U.S. involvement in World War II, in the same port.
The creation of the Battleship Missouri Memorial allows future generations to share this opportunity.