Pearl Harbor’s ‘Mighty Mo’ to be repaired

Associated Press / August 31, 2009

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PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - The “Mighty Mo,’’ the World War II battleship best known for hosting the formal surrender of Japan in 1945, is heading to the shipyard for repairs.

The USS Missouri, now a decommissioned vessel called the Battleship Missouri Memorial, will leave its historic spot at Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor in October.

The move will occur shortly after the vessel on Wednesday hosts a ceremony marking the 64th anniversary of Japan’s surrender.

US Representative Neil Abercrombie, Democrat of Hawaii, and Retired Lieutenant General Wallace “Chip’’ Gregson, newly sworn in as assistant secretary of defense, are scheduled to speak at the event.

At least 20 World War II veterans are expected to attend, including 89-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor Edward F. Borucki of Southampton, Mass.

“It’s a sentimental journey,’’ said Borucki, who lost 33 shipmates when a Japanese torpedo and bombs hit the USS Helena.

The 65-year-old USS Missouri is in good shape, but it still needs to go to Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for repairs because rust is protruding from peeling paint in areas and the teak wood deck is warped and bent in others.

The warship’s exterior is due to be sanded down and repainted in a $15 million overhaul paid for by memorial reserve funds and a Department of Defense grant.

“Rust never sleeps as they say,’’ said Michael Carr, the memorial’s president. “It’s a big job. It has to be done.’’

Most of the work will be done after the 887-foot ship is put into a closed dock and the water around it is drained. This will allow workers to paint the entire hull, even parts that are usually submerged.

Some of the repairs have already begun pierside, however. Tourists visiting the ship now can see scaffolding encircling the ship’s mast.

Memorial officials have started warning Hawaii tour operators they will be shut down for three months starting in mid-October.

The historic ship is due to return to Pier Foxtrot 5 in early January and resume welcoming visitors shortly after. More than 400,000 visitors tour the vessel each year.