World War II's Missouri heads toward major refurbishment

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | 10:35 p.m. CDT; updated 10:53 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 14, 2009

HONOLULU — Four tugboats gently maneuvered the iconic World War II battleship USS Missouri into a dry dock on Wednesday, where it will undergo a major refurbishment.

The vessel, now a memorial and museum, is a symbol of the fiercest Pacific battles. It has been moored for the last 11 years in Pearl Harbor, where a Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941, prompted the U.S. to enter the war.

The "Mighty Mo," the last battleship built by the U.S., was also the site of Japan's surrender on Sept. 2, 1945.

On Wednesday, the 887-foot Missouri was coaxed from its Ford Island mooring and slowly nudged two miles to the huge Drydock 4, where it will sit until early January. In the meantime, it will be sandblasted and painted, and rusted metal will be removed, at the cost of $18 million.

Navy Petty Officer James Stoddard volunteered to man the Missouri's rope lines and spend all day on board.

"How many times you get to ride a battleship?" Stoddard asked. "I don't see them making any more in the future."

The USS Missouri Memorial Association now operates the ship.

After the move, the dock's gates closed and more than 50 million gallons of water were pumped out, eventually leaving the 54,889-ton vessel sitting on 310 wooden blocks that weigh four tons each.



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