Cher Sings Aboard Battleship USS Missouri
Following text from The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships published by the Naval Historical Center.
The fourth Missouri (BB-63), the last battleship completed by the United States, was laid down 6 January 1941 by New York Naval Shipyard; launched 29 January 1944; sponsored by Miss Margaret Truman, daughter of then Senator from Missouri Harry S Truman, later President; and commissioned 11 June 1944, Capt. William M. Callaghan in command.
After trials off New York and shakedown and battle practice in Chesapeake Bay, Missouri departed Norfolk 11 November 1944, transited the Panama Canal 18 November and steamed to San Francisco for final fitting out as fleet flagship. She stood out of San Francisco Bay 14 December and arrived Ulithi, West Caroline Islands, 13 January 1945. There she was temporary headquarters ship for Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher. The battleship put to sea 27 January to serve in the screen of the Lexington carrier task group of Mitscher’s TF 58, and on 16 February her flattops launched the first air strikes against Japan since the famed Doolittle raid that had been launched from carrier Hornet in April 1942.
Missouri then steamed with the carriers to Iwo Jima where her mighty guns provided direct and continuous support to the invasion landings begun 19 February. After TF 58 returned to Ulithi 5 March, Missouri was assigned to the Yorktown carrier task group. On 14 March Missouri departed Ulithi in the screen of the fast carriers and steamed to the Japanese mainland. During strikes against targets along the coast of the Inland Sea of Japan beginning 18 March, Missouri splashed four Japanese aircraft.
Raids against airfields and naval bases near the Inland Sea and southwestern Honshu continued. Wasp, crashed by an enemy suicide plane 19 March, resumed flight operations within an hour. Two bombs penetrated the hangar deck and decks aft of carrier Franklin, leaving her dead in the water within 50 miles of the Japanese mainland. The cruiser Pittsburgh took Franklin in tow until she gained speed to 14 knots. Missouri’s carrier task group provided cover for Franklin’s retirement toward Ulithi until 22 March, then set course for pre-invasion strikes and bombardment of Okinawa.
Missouri joined the fast battleships of TF 58 in bombarding the southeast coast of Okinawa 24 March 1945, an action intended to draw enemy strength from the west coast beaches that would be the actual site of invasion landings. Missouri rejoined the screen of the carriers as Marine and Army units stormed the shores of Okinawa on the morning of 1 April. Planes from the carriers shattered a special Japanese attacking force led by battleship Yamato 7 April. Yamato, the world’s largest battlewagon, was sunk, as were a cruiser and a destroyer. Three other enemy destroyers were heavily damaged and scuttled. Four remaining destroyers, sole survivors of the attacking fleet, were damaged and retired to Sasebo.
On 11 April Missouri opened fire on a low-flying suicide plane which penetrated the curtain of her shells to crash just below her main deck level. The starboard wing of the plane was thrown far forward, starting a gasoline fire at 5-inch Gun Mount No. 3. Yet the battleship suffered only superficial damage, and the fire was brought quickly under control.
About 2305 on 17 April 1945, Missouri detected an enemy submarine 12 miles from her formation. Her report set off a hunter-killer operation by carrier Bataan and four destroyers which sank Japanese submarine I-56.
Missouri was detached from the carrier task force off Okinawa 5 May and sailed for Ulithi. During the Okinawa campaign she had shot down five enemy planes, assisted in the destruction of six others, and scored one probable kill. She helped repel 12 daylight attacks of enemy raiders and fought off four night attacks on her carrier task group. Her shore bombardment destroyed several gun emplacements and many other military, governmental, and industrial structures.
Missouri arrived Ulithi 9 May 1945 and thence proceeded to Apra Harbor, Guam, 18 May. That afternoon Adm. William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander 3d Fleet, broke his flag in Missouri. She passed out of the harbor 21 May, and by 27 May was again conducting shore bombardment against Japanese positions on Okinawa. Missouri now led the mighty 3d Fleet in strikes on airfields and installations on Kyushu 2 and 3 June. She rode out a fierce storm 5 and 6 June that wrenched off the bow of the cruiser Pittsburgh. Some topside fittings were smashed, but Missouri suffered no major damage. Her fleet again struck Kyushu 8 June, then hit hard in a coordinated air-surface bombardment before retiring towards Leyte. She arrived San Pedro, Leyte, 13 June 1945, after almost three months of continuous operations in support of the Okinawa campaign. Read more>>