Pearl Harbor’s Battleship Missouri Memorial closing for repairs until January 2010

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The "Mighty Mo" is getting a makeover.

The Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor on Oahu closes to the public this week until January 2010 for extensive maintenance and preservation work. The retired Naval vessel and floating museum—site of the Empire of Japan’s surrender, ending World War II—will enter drydock on Oct. 14, to begin the three-month, $18 million project.

Pearl Harbor officials are expecting hundreds in attendance tomorrow—both at an invitation-only ceremony at the Missouri’s dock, and across the harbor at the USS Bowfin Submarine & Park—to watch the Missouri traverse the harbor and move into Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard’s Drydock 4.

The best time to watch the Missouri's big move is 6:30 a.m.—when the Bowfin opens to the public—to 7 a.m. According to Missouri museum staffers, from the Bowfin vantage point you'll be able to see the ship back out of its pier and rotate in the open harbor before heading to drydock.

The Missouri officially closed to public tours last Friday. The 68-year-old battleship will reopen again in January 2010.

Wednesday’s drydock marks the first time the Missouri has left its Ford Island mooring since arriving in Hawaii in 1998. Over the next three months, crews will be busy sandblasting and repainting the 887-foot long Missouri’s hull and restoring the boat’s teak main deck, among other repairs.

The Missouri won’t travel far for repairs—just two miles across Pearl Harbor to the Drydock 4 site. Still, moving the 54,889-ton ship won’t be easy: The Missouri is restricted from firing its engines. Instead, a fleet of three to four tugboats will pull the Missouri along, a process that will take 12 to 14 hours, beginning at sunrise.
Next to the USS Arizona Memorial, the “Mighty Mo” is the most popular attraction at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, drawing as many as 48,000 visitors a month. The Missouri’s deck was where the Empire of Japan formally surrendered to U.S. forces on Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay, ending World War II. Pop culture buffs recognize the battleship’s deck for a far different reason—as the backdrop for Cher’s infamous, cannon-straddling music video for her 1989 hit “If I Could Turn Back Time.”

The refurbished Missouri is expected to leave drydock on Jan. 7, 2010. A change in admission prices will accompany its reopening to public tours on Jan. 29. Guided tours will cost $20—down from the former rate of $23—while the $16 unguided tours will be discontinued.

For more information on the Battleship Missouri Memorial, or to keep up with repair work, click here, or call (877) 644-4896.

While you’re waiting for the Missouri to return, make sure to check out the other Pearl Harbor Historic Sites: the USS Arizona Memorial—which remains open as construction progresses on a new 17,750-square-foot visitor center, the USS Oklahoma, Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park.

Photos: The USS Missouri main deck and anti-aircraft cannons while docked in Pearl Harbor (pg. 1): Commons/Wikipedia; General Douglas MacArthur signs documents during the formal surrender ceremony of the Japanese aboard the Missouri on Sept. 2 1945 (pg. 2): Commons/Wikipedia.
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