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Name of three ships in the United States Navy, most notably the most recent (designation BB 63). Some sources mention four ships by that name but I have only been able to locate evidence of the existence of three. References to a fourth ca. 1880 are probably confusing it with the British liner SS Missouri.


USS Missouri
Mississippi class steam frigate
Displacement: 3220 tons
Dimensions: approx. 229' (69.80m) x 40' (12.20m) x 19' (5.80m)
Maximum speed: unknown
Complement: unknown
Built in New York; commissioned early in 1842 and destroyed 1843-08-26.

One of the first steam-sail hybrids to be built, she spent her first year demonstrating the capabilities of her novel paddle wheel propulsion technology, along with her sister ship the USS Mississippi, and on active duty in the Caribbean. Her first transatlantic voyage ended in disaster and she was sunk in the port of Gibraltar by an explosion following a fire, barely five minutes after the last of the crew made it into the lifeboats. There are at least two contemporary artworks, made by onlookers in the port, that depict her destruction while on the way to Egypt on a diplomatic mission.


USS Missouri (BB 11)
Maine class battleship
Displacement: 12362 tons
Dimensions: 393'11" (120.10 m) x 72'2" (22 m) x 25'8" (7.80 m)
Maximum speed: 18.2 kts
Complement: 592
Launched 1901-12-23 in Newport News, Virginia; under commission six times in the period between 1903-01-12 and 1919-09-08.

The second Missouri began her career on an unfortunate note when during her first operational voyage a flareback accident killed 36 of the crew through burning gunpowder fumes. She was almost lost and three of her crewmen were later awarded medals for their part in saving the almost doomed ship. The Missouri was deployed first in the Mediterranean and later in the Caribbean where she provided valuable relief following the earthquake that almost levelled Kingston in Jamaica. Following a short spell as part of the Jamestown Exposition she took part in the 14-month, round the world trip of President Roosevelt's Great White Fleet. During her second commission she was part of the Atlantic Fleet and assisted with troop transports during a rebellion in Cuba. She spent the rest of her career in and out of service for a total of six commissions, the last four of which were training missions, except for a brief period following the WWI armistice when she helped repatriate American soldiers from France. She was scrapped in 1922 as part of the disarmament program required by the Washington Naval Treaty.


USS Missouri (BB 63)
Iowa class battleship
Displacement: 45000 tons
Dimensions: 887'3" (270.40m) x 108'3" (33m) x 28'1" (8.60m)
Maximum speed: 33 kts
Complement: 1921
Launched 1944-01-29 in New York; Under commission from 1944-06-11 to 1955-02-26 and 1986-05-10 to 1992-03-31.

The "Mighty Mo" is the most famous of the ships to bear the name USS Missouri and one of the best-known ships in the world. She was the last ship of the line to be taken into service by the US Navy and the last to be decommissioned. She saw action in the Pacific in 1945 supporting the invasion of Iwo Jima as part of the USS Lexington carrier group and taking part in the bombardment of shore targets on the Japanese home islands. She gained a permanent place in the history books as the site of the signing of the Japanese surrender that ended WWII on her deck when she was flagship of the Third Fleet.

After the end of the war she went on diplomatic missions in the eastern Mediterranean, South America and western Europe. In a demonstration of how powerful and bulky the ships of her class were she went half a mile inland before stopping after running aground on shoals off Virgina. She saw extensive action during two deployments in the Korean War as flagship of the Seventh Fleet. Following her refitting in 1986 she was the first US Navy battleship to sail around the world since her namesake in 1909 and the year after that she was deployed to the Indian Ocean. 38 years after her last combat action the guns of the Mighty Mo were roaring again in the Gulf War, firing Tomahawk missiles at Iraqi targets. After her return from the Gulf War she was decommissioned for the last time and three years later struck from the registry to be donated to become a museum. In 1999, 55 years to the day after being launched, she was dedicated as the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor, near the Arizona Memorial, where she's open to the public.

Sources:
US Navy
USS Missouri Memorial Association

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