The Last Battleship

The Plan-of-the-Day for USS Missouri on Tuesday, March 31, 1992 instructed the crew to carry out the ship's In-port routine except as modified below:

0730   Liberty Expires on board for all hands
0800   Muster Traffic Directors with Operations Officer
0845   Ushers assemble with Weapons Officer
0915   Assemble the crew for Decommissioning
0930   Formations in position
0959   Commanding Officer arrives
1000   Honored Guests arrive
1000   Decommissioning of Battleship USS Missouri

The Plan-of-the-day concluded with this note to the crew from their Commanding Officer, Captain A. Lee Kaiss:

"Our final day has arrived. Today the final chapter in battleship MISSOURI’s history will be written.
It's often said that the crew makes the command. There is no truer statement...for it's the crew of this great ship that made this a great command. You are a special breed of sailors and Marines and I am proud to have served with each and every one of you. To you who have made the painful journey of putting this great lady to sleep, I thank you. For you have had the toughest job. To put away a ship that has become as much a part of you as you are to her is a sad ending to a great tour.But take solace in this – you have lived up to the history of the ship and those who sailed her before us. We took her to war, performed magnificently and added another chapter in her history, standing side by side our forerunners in true naval tradition. God bless you all."

A. L Kaiss

The decommissioning ceremony began promptly at 10:00. Hundreds of family, friends, well-wishers and former crew were in attendance. The National Anthem was played, the ship’s chaplain, Commander James Nickols provided an invocation, Missouri State Representative Ike Skelton was introduced to speak and then Captain Kaiss read the decommissioning order, followed by the presentation of the commission pennant by Command Master Chief Timothy Hofman. Then, Chaplain, Lieutenant John Grenham closed with a benediction and Captain Kaiss gave his final order to Executive Officer, Captain Ken Jordan:

"XO, Haul down the colors!"

After the last crew had departed ship and the watch had been secured, Captain Kaiss turned and departed his ship for the last time.

As he shook hands and bid farewell to his shipmates who stood to either side of the bow as he stepped ashore, he had the unique distinction of being the last battleship Sailor of the last active battleship in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Decommissioning Video Coming Soon!

As those attending sadly departed Pier Echo at Long Beach Naval Shipyard that day, they carried with them a keepsake, a “Second Decommissioning” program book that included the names of the officers, the chief petty officers and the crew - the last crew of USS Missouri. On the last page, they read these words:

"Until the call to serve sounds from high above, and the grand ladies of the sea are needed to heed their country’s call to service, the imposing silhouette of the Mighty Dreadnaught shall sit silently waiting..."

 

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