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Tours to the USS Arizona Memorial may resume as early as Thursday, after an accident that damanged the Memorial’s dock forced officials to cancel tours on the monument.
According to the Navy, crews plan to fix the dock by Wednesday, which means tours could, potentially, resume by Thursday.
Investigatrs from Norfolk, VA will arrive this weekend to probe the accident. Norfolk, VA is the home to the Military Sealift Command, which overseas the hospital ship that was involved in the accident.
According to an email from Tom Van Leunen, a spokesman for the Military Sealift Command, the investigators will begin working immediately. The command’s operations chief, Capt. Dean Vesely, will lead the investigation, Van Leunan said.
Wednesday, tours to the Memorial were canceled. Two tugboats were maneuvering the USNS Mercy hospital ship out of Pearl Harbor when, according to the Navy, waves generated by the Mercy’s propeller pushed the dock about 10 feet toward the memorial. The Navy says the Mercy may have also hit the dock.
An attachment point between the floating dock and its anchors came loose in the incident. Anchors will need to be reset and chains retightened. The dock’s ramp and handrails were also mangled. However, the U.S. Park Service reports that the accident did not cause any damage to the USS Arizona herself.
The accident between the hospital ship and the USS Arizona Memorial’s dock forced the Navy and U.S. Park Service to divert tours on the Memorial. However, Navy and Park Service Boats are taking visitors to “Battleship Row” to see the Memorial from afar while dock repairs continue. According to the U.S. Park Service, it’s unsafe for visitors to disembark on the Memorial’s dock at this time.
The USS Arizona Memorial, the most popular tourist attraction in Hawaii, usually receives up to 4,350 visitors a day who take short boat rides from shore.
The memorial sits atop the rusting hull of the battleship Arizona, which sank in the 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. It honors the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed in the attack.
The 184-foot-long Memorial structure spanning the mid-portion of the sunken battleship consists of three main sections: the entry and assembly rooms; a central area designed for ceremonies and general observation; and the shrine room, where the names of those killed on the Arizona are engraved on the marble wall.
Arizona was the most heavily damaged of all the vessels in Battleship Row, suffering three near-misses and four direct-hits from 800-kg bombs dropped by high-altitude Kates. The last bomb to strike her penetrated her deck starboard of turret two and detonated within a 14-inch powder magazine. The resulting massive explosion broke the ship in two forward of turret one, collapsed her forecastle decks, and created such a cavity that her forward turrets and conning tower fell thirty feet into her hull.
The USS Arizona Memorial draws more than 1.8 million visitors each year from all over the world. Visitors are free to explore the grounds of the newly renovated $56 million Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The new Visitor Center was recently been expanded from the original 3 to 17 acres and is operated by the National Park Service.
The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is open daily from 7am to 5pm (only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission and parking is free to all visitors. Three new parking lots have been built at the Visitor Center and now there is ample parking for everyone!
More than 900 servicemen are entombed in the ship.