During World War II, the USS Missouri was a newer ship and was only in use for a little under a year when it became the site of Japan’s surrender. But what was the reason behind this peculiar location?
The USS Missouri was the final battleship commissioned into the Navy. Like the other ships that came before her, she had been 16″/50 guns in three triple turrets and could move her 45,000 tons at 30 knots.
She joined the other ships in the fleet in the Pacific in June 1944. Since the Missouri was a fast battleship, she was a part of Task Force 58.
The task force was at the center of the U.S. Navy’s strength toward the end of WWII. The ship was a part of multiple missions, including operations in Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Japan.
When she wasn’t participating in missions, she acted as protection for U.S. carriers. In May 1945, the task force moved from 58 to Task Force 38. After the transition, the Missouri was Admiral Bull Halsey’s 3rd Fleet flagship.
A Controversial Choice
She was at the head of the armada heading into Tokyo Bay months later, on August 29. There were many prominent ships at the surrender, including the USS South Dakota, the USS West Virginia, HMS Duke of York, and the HMS Prince of Wales.
Since she was the 3rd fleet’s flagship, it made sense for her to be the location. However, many people think it is because President Harry S. Truman’s daughter had christened the ship, which was the state the president was from.
But, despite its speed, it was a less distinguished ship compared to the others present, making it a controversial choice. The USS Missouri was active up until the Gulf War. After, she was retired and sent to Pearl Harbor as a war memorial.