President Harry S. Truman received word of an unconditional Japanese surrender on Aug. 14, 1945. However, the hostilities and the proclamation of V-J Day would have to wait until all countries still participating in the tail end of World War II received a formal signing of surrender.

President Harry S. Truman received word of an unconditional Japanese surrender on Aug. 14, 1945. However, the hostilities and the proclamation of V-J Day would have to wait until all countries still participating in the tail end of World War II received a formal signing of surrender. At a news conference that evening, Truman stated that arrangements were under way for the formal signing of the surrender terms at the earliest possible date.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur had been appointed the supreme allied commander to receive the Japanese surrender and other high-ranking officers would represent Great  Britain, the Soviet Union and China. It was decided the formalities would take place in Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri.

The Missouri was an impressive ship, to say the least, and an ideal place to host the formalities. The battleship weighed in at 45,000 tons. One of four Iowa class battleships built before and during World War II, the Missouri was one of the largest, heaviest and most powerful warships in the world for many years. It was a fairly high-speed ship, with speeds up to 33 knots. It had thick steel sides and deck armor.

The Missouri carried a crew of 2,800 men; it was 888 feet long and 108 feet wide. It displaced 59,000 long tons of water when fully loaded. The Missouri was armed with nine 16-inch guns, 16 five-inch guns, and anti-aircraft guns.

Naval battles during the war showed us what battleships were capable of but also demonstrated that they were vulnerable to air strikes. All four Iowa class battleships have since been decommissioned by the U.S. Navy and replaced by the current Nimitz style aircraft carriers, such as the USS Harry S. Truman.

The USS Missouri was built at the New York Naval Yard and was commissioned on June 11, 1944. She spent the remainder of that year preparing for combat, moved to the Pacific in November, and arrived in the war zone in January 1945, the Missouri supported the Iwo Jima invasion, the Ryukus campaign and raids on Japan’s home islands over the next several months. In May, she became the Third Fleet flagship.

Following the war, Missouri returned to the United States, participating in a great naval review at New York in October 1945. In March 1946, she went to the Mediterranean on a diplomatic mission.

Throughout the rest of the 1940s, the battleship operated extensively in the Atlantic area. She ran aground off Hampton Roads, Va., in January 1950, but was quickly repaired and returned to service. The Missouri was the only battleship on active duty in June 1950, when the Korean War began, and made two combat deployments to the Western Pacific. Following that action and several training cruises to Europe; she was decommissioned in February 1955.

For the next three decades, she was in reserve at Bremerton, Wash., in Puget Sound. The Missouri then became a major tourist attraction. She was reactivated in 1986. Her next six years were busy ones and included a cruise around the world and a combat role in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

She was again decommissioned in March 1992 and was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in 1995. Today, the Missouri sits at Pearl Harbor, where she has become an appropriate memorial to World War II.

Reference: The USS Missouri Memorial Association.