USS Arizona Memorial closed for repairs after stuck by vessel

HONOLULU (AP) — The National Park Service and the Navy aim to resume taking visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial in a week, after a dock damaged by a wayward vessel is repaired.

An attachment point between the floating dock and its anchors came loose when a vessel rammed it, park service spokeswoman Abby Wines said Thursday. Anchors will need to be reset and chains retightened, she said. The crash also mangled the dock’s ramp and handrails.

The incident occurred Wednesday when the hospital ship USNS Mercy and a civilian tugboat contracted by the Navy were maneuvering in Pearl Harbor. The tugboat or the Mercy hit the dock. The Navy is investigating what happened.

The sunken USS Arizona wasn’t damaged, Wines said.

Visitors will be able to enter the memorial at the World War II battleship starting June 4 if repairs go as expected, she said.

The memorial honors the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on the Arizona when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. The remains of more than 900 servicemen are still entombed on the ship, which lies underneath the memorial’s white structure.

To go there, visitors board boats at a visitors’ center on land for a short ride across the harbor. The memorial is one of Hawaii’s most heavily visited sites, drawing nearly 1.6 million people each year.

The Navy, which operates the tour boats, has been taking visitors to a spot near the memorial to view the ship from afar while the dock is being repaired.

Visitors are understandably disappointed but many are still grateful for the opportunity to get close to and see the hallowed site, Wines said.

“For many people this is their only trip to this island and the USS Arizona may be the iconic thing that they’ve planned to come here to visit. It’s an extremely significant, powerful part of our history,” she said.

She stressed the visitors’ center remains open, along with other historic sites in Pearl Harbor such as the retired battleship Missouri.

Navy Region Hawaii spokesman Bill Doughty said the Navy is repairing the dock as fast as it can.

“The sooner we can do it the better,” he said.

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