The retired battleship USS Missouri, the site of Japan’s surrender in World War II, will be moved to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the Navy said Wednesday.
Hawaii had vied with Bremerton and the California cities of Long Beach and San Francisco in seeking the decommissioned battleship for use as a non-profit museum.
The decision is a disappointment to the city of Bremerton, which had hoped to keep the Mighty Mo at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Bremerton was home to the Missouri for two decades before the ship was reactivated in the 1980s, and is home to the ship now.
Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton said it will be a substantial loss to the town, where the battleship has long been a major tourist draw.
Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., who had fought to keep the battleship in Bremerton, said it was not a political decision to send the ship to Hawaii.
Dicks and Horton said the Navy apparently thinks the battleship will get more visitors at Pearl Harbor.
Navy Secretary John Dalton said he decided in favor of Honolulu after evaluating the technical, financial, historical and public interest aspects of the varied proposals.
“This was a very tough decision, since all the proposals were so excellent and impressive,” he said. “I’m genuinely sorry the Navy doesn’t have a USS Missouri to give to each of these cities.”
A spokesman for the Navy said the service did not know when the ship would be moved.
Plans call for docking the Missouri on the spot it first occupied when it was deployed as part of the Pacific fleet - opposite the monument to the USS Arizona, sunk in Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
Billed by the Navy as “the world’s most historic battleship,” the 887-foot dreadnought was built at the New York Naval Shipyard in Brooklyn and commissioned on Dec. 14, 1944 - the last battleship built in the United States.
The ship was used in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. A plaque marks the spot on the teak deck where the articles of the Japanese surrender ending World War II were signed as the Missouri lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.
After seeing action in the Korean War, the Missouri was decommissioned in 1955 and placed on display at the Bremerton shipyard, drawing an estimated 180,000 visitors a year.
Overhauled and recommissioned in 1986 at a cost of $475 million, the ship was sent to shell Iraqi coastal fortifications during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
The next spring, however, it was decommissioned once again to save operating costs of $24 million a year.
The Missouri returned to Bremerton and public display, although only a small part of the ship, including the Surrender Deck, is open to the public through the summer.
Resting beside the Missouri but closed to the public is the nearly identical USS New Jersey. The other battleships in the same class, the USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin, are on the East Coast.
The USS Missouri (BB63) Memorial Association of Honolulu raised $6.5 million for a plan to moor the ship beside the memorial to the USS Arizona, which sank in the attack on Pearl Harbor.