‘Mighty Mo' goes through maintenance, preservation work - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

‘Mighty Mo' goes through maintenance, preservation work

Flor Nawara Flor Nawara
Toby Langcaon Toby Langcaon

By Leland Kim - bio | email

PEARL HARBOR (KHNL) -  The Mighty Mo is on the move.  The Battleship Missouri left its home early Wednesday morning at Pearl Harbor for the first time in more than a decade.

The Missouri, an 887-foot-long vessel, is a United States Navy Iowa-class battleship.  It was the last battleship built by the United States, and it's going through extensive maintenance and preservation work.  This is an $18 million project to preserve a historic vessel.

The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard will be the "Mighty Mo's" home for the next three months.  This is a major financial investment, but its supporters say the Missouri deserves it because it played a key role in a war that changed Hawaii and the rest of the country.

It's not just soldiers who do more before 9 am than most people.   These sailors and civilians have been busy prepping the Mighty Mo even before sunrise.

"What a sight to be inside the ship," said Toby Langcaon, a Korean War veteran. "It's amazing. It's unbelievable."

It's a complicated and delicate process with tug boats pushing and towing this 55,000-ton vessel two miles from Ford Island to the Mighty Mo's temporary home.

"It's just cool; it's amazing," said Flor Nawara, a military wife. "It's great that it's still floating and still in the harbor."

 She brought her kids along.  Little Liam and Alexis didn't mind getting up early.

"Awesome," said seven-year-old Liam Nawara.

Their dad is a Navy sailor.  Their mom made sure they know what today's all about.

"They understand it's an important part of history," said Flor Nawara.

"Do you know why that's so special?" KHNL asked Liam Nawara.

"Because it ended World War II," he answered.

The Battleship Missouri symbolizes American victory.  The U.S. won World War II, when Japan surrendered unconditionally aboard the vessel on September 2, 1945.  The Missouri also served in the Korean War.

"And seeing her after 60-some years, to me, it's unexpected and a blessing for me to be back on the ship," said Langcaon, who is 76 years.

He moved from the Philippines to join the U.S. Navy in 1953.  Langcaon fought in the Korean War, serving aboard the Missouri.

"When this thing fires, amazing," he said. "I cannot describe to you the sound; it's out of this world."

The Mighty Mo's fighting days are over, but those working on the ship say she's an important part of history.

"I've had some of my workers actually talk about equating this to, in the past, when the Statue of Liberty was refurbished back in the east coast," said Roger Kubischta, BAE Systems' Hawaii Shipyards president and general manager.

The Missouri was decommissioned in 1992, returning to Hawaii to be drydocked.

"When I found out this ship is coming back to Hawaii, I told myself, ‘Oh, my friend is coming home,'" said Langcaon.

Home to teach future generations about its decorated past.

It is one of the largest ships to have ever dry docked in Pearl Harbor.   Crews are busy building a huge tent over the Missouri.  Then in the next week or so, they'll start sand blasting and making repairs on the ship.  The project should be finished by January.

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