Battleship Missouri comes out of drydock

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii | The battleship where officials from Japan and the Allied Forces signed surrender documents ending World War II came out of drydock Thursday after three months of maintenance and repairs.

Workers sandblasted the former USS Missouri, which is now a World War II museum, to remove old paint and sea growth during the $18 million overhaul.

They resurfaced the hull with 300 square feet of new steel and covered it with 1,600 gallons of new paint. It had been 17 years since the battleship had major work done.

“She had about six inches of sea growth on board. We blasted all of that off and identified 26 holes in the hull that needed to be repaired,” Victor Rhoades of BAE Systems told Hawaii News Now.

“It was a lot of hard work, a lot of paint. It was amazing working on a ship like this,” said Craig Morte, a BAE systems painter.

Tugs pulled the vessel the 2-mile journey from its drydock at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to its pier next to Ford Island.

The “Mighty Mo” is moored a few hundred yards from the USS Arizona, a battleship sunk during Japan's Dec. 7, 1941, attack that forced the U.S. into the war. The surrender documents were signed on the Missouri's deck on Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay.

The battleship was also used in the Korean and Persian Gulf wars before being decommissioned in 1992. The memorial opened in January 1999.

The renamed Battleship Missouri Memorial is due to begin welcoming visitors again after a soft opening in mid-January. The ship will officially reopen on Jan. 30, one day after the 66th anniversary of the battleship's launch from Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The USS Missouri Memorial Association operates the battleship as a historic attraction and memorial, overseeing its care and preservation with the support of visitors, memberships, grants and the generosity of donors.