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BATTLESHIP

Brief History of USS MIssouri
While USS Arizona did not play a part in the film, one of her sister ships, USS Missouri (now a floating museum called the Battleship Missouri Memorial), served as a key location for the company over a weeklong stretch in early September 2010. Production was so massive that the popular and busy tourist attraction was shut down for four of the seven days the company used the ship as a backdrop.

Nicknamed "Mighty Mo," the Missouri is an Iowa-class battleship and the last such vessel ever built by the U.S. Navy. Named for the home state of President Harry S. Truman, the Missouri was built at the Brooklyn Navy yard in 1941, launched on January 29, 1944, and commissioned into battle on June 11, 1944.

The ship weighs 45,000 tons, stretches for 887.2 feet in length (a few feet shy of the Titanic) and originally housed 2,700 officers and sailors. The vessel was reactivated in 1984, years after her prior service in Korea in the 1950s. To modernize her, the Navy refitted the Missouri with contemporary armament and electronics, with housing capacity reduced to 1,851 sailors. She saw her final action in the Gulf War of 1991.

Arriving at Pearl Harbor on December 29, 1944, USS Missouri was engaged in some great battles off the shores of Japan in the latter months of WWII. On April 11, 1945 (the day before Truman became president), a low-flying kamikaze, although fired upon, crashed on Missouri's starboard side, just below her main deck level. Flames ignited a gasoline fire in gun mount No. 3.

The battleship suffered only superficial damage, and the fire was quickly extinguished. The remains of the pilot were recovered on board the ship. Out of respect for the fallen Japanese flyer, the Missouri's captain, William Callaghan, commissioned a funeral at sea with military honors. Indeed, Callaghan recognized his heroic, but failed, efforts, even as one of the enemy. The dent in the side of the ship remains to this day and is one of the intriguing tourist attractions on the vessel.

Barely four months later, USS Missouri made history when the Japanese surrendered to Allied forces (led by Adm. Chester Nimitz and Army General Douglas MacArthur) in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. Production had not yet started on the Missouri Memorial when the U.S. government and Hawaii held a commemorative ceremony on September 2, 2010, marking the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII.

Decommissioned on March 31, 1992, USS Missouri served for a brief period in the Navy's reserve fleet stationed in Bremerton, Washington. In 1998, the Navy donated the vessel to USS Missouri Memorial Association in Honolulu, where she sits today, a floating museum anchored on Ford Island, adjacent to the naval base on Battleship Row. Her presence in Pearl Harbor, across the waters from USS Arizona Memorial, is a fitting resting place for the "Mighty Mo." Massive bookends, the pair of battleships represents the beginning and end of America's involvement in the Second World War.

Taking Her Out in the Pacific

Following $18 million worth of maintenance and preservation work in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, the Missouri returned on January 7, 2010, to her home pier near USS Arizona Memorial. Sporting a refurbished hull, fresh coat of paint, and state-of-the-art cathodic protection and humidity detection technologies, the ship is now fortified against corrosion for decades to come (thus far, more than three million visitors have paid their respects to the "Mighty Mo" since it opened as a museum in 1998).

While production would not commence for another eight months, taking the Missouri out for a spin was way too good of an opportunity to pass up. Filming for the movie "unofficially" began on January 8, 2010, less than 24 hours after the Missouri returned from dry dock. At 9:25 a.m. that day, the Missouri shoved off once again for preliminary filming on Battleship. Berg and the production team worked with the nonprofit USS Missouri Memorial Association to take advantage of the ship's narrow window of availability after its return from dry-dock and before reopening to visitors.

Towed by tugboats, the battleship was maneuvered well outside Pearl Harbor, coasting approximately two miles offshore of Waikiki Beach. Her historic, albeit brief, "voyage" out to sea was an image not seen since the ship's arrival in Hawaii in 1998. Many surmised it would mark the gray lady's final sail.

"Taking the Missouri out to sea for filming was a case of being in the right place at the right time," states KEITH DEMELLO, who works with MMA, the nonprofit organization that oversees the legendary ship. "It took a great deal of effort by all parties to make it happen. Mr. Berg's scout of Pearl Harbor in preparation for filming happened to coincide with the Missouri being in dry dock for the first time in 17 years. The fact that the Missouri was going to be 'underway' at all was unique."

"USS Missouri plays a very big role in the movie," reflects Aubrey about the gargantuan battleship, which made history yet again in conjunction with the film production. "First, our ability to get a battleship in the movie was thrilling. Especially this battleship, the Missouri, which is where the Japanese surrendered in World War II. Yet, we had the opportunity, while it was moving from dry dock to its permanent berth, to take it out on to the open ocean. Because the engines are now disabled, it was towed."

Aubrey adds: "The men who were aboard the ship that day were some who had fought on the Missouri, worked on that ship, had repaired it and kept it in such glorious working shape all these years. You could tell how overjoyed they were, so excited having never thought they would see the 'Mighty Mo' on the ocean again. We felt extraordinarily lucky that we were able to be part of that as well."

"When the filmmakers saw the Missouri, they realized that she's this grand old dame who is very much loved by the people who run and maintain her," affirms the film's veteran location manager, MICHAEL MEEHAN, another longtime Henderson associate. "So, they decided to bring her into the movie." Meehan marvels: "We were standing at Pearl Harbor, then looking out over the harbor to the deck of the Missouri. In one visual element, you see the beginning and end of World War II."

Adds Henderson: "It was a great honor being on this ship. Just the size of the Missouri itself is daunting. The production value we got working on any of the Navy ships was tremendous, and being in Hawaii was just visually rewarding."

For the producers from Hasbro, it was truly a dream come true. Explains Schneir: "We found an answer to the question we'd been asking ourselves during development: 'How do you make a movie called Battleship when there are no more battleships in the military?' We wanted to use a battleship as the hero ship that saves the world. We then learned that USS Missouri, which is now a floating museum, could be repurposed and repositioned into active service.

"We added the Missouri as a critical plot element and character in the movie," Schneir continues. "We were on the Missouri for two weeks shooting in September. But, before production even began, in January 2010, we were able to tow USS Missouri off of its dry-dock and into open water...with great anxiety from the Navy and the studio. Yet, it went off without a hitch. We had fabulous weather that day, perfect conditions, and we were able to get shots of the Missouri out in open water, which ILM later used to create some of the amazing visuals in the third act of the movie."

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