After a period of repairs that lasted 15 months, visitors to Pearl Harbor will finally be able to return to the USS Arizona Memorial, beginning on September 1, 2019. The serene white structure anchored above the wreckage of the sunken battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) is an integral part of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Access to the USS Arizona Memorial has been suspended since May, 2018, after a crack in the supporting structure of the visitor loading ramp was discovered.
After the initial damage was reported, the USS Arizona Memorial was immediately closed to the public. According to a spokesperson for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial at the time, “There is a brow or an edge where the visitor ramp meets the memorial, and at that point, there’s been some fissures located on the exterior.” Reports estimated that the cracks resulted in the pier shifting three feet away from the memorial, creating a potential hazard for guests.
Engineers went to work immediately on the issue, and though the initial repairs were completed relatively quickly, additional issues started to arise. Along with the crack that resulted in damage to an attachment bolt on the access ramp, further investigation revealed damage to the anchoring system. In March of 2019, the National Park Service awarded a contract worth $2.1 million to address the additional problems.
Fixing Multiple Issues
The repair process went through multiple phases as teams analyzed additional concerns. In that time, the USS Arizona Memorial program continued to operate, with a screening of the 23-minute documentary film about the USS Arizona and the attack on Pearl Harbor, followed by a tour of the harbor and Battleship Row aboard a US Navy shuttle boat.
To prepare for the anticipated return to the USS Arizona Memorial for its grand reopening, US Navy volunteers stepped up to provide cleaning and maintenance. Organizations like the Mustang Association Hawaii Chapter (MAHC) helped out during the memorial’s downtime to ensure it remained in good physical condition. According to Eric More, president of the MAHC, their goal was to “…preserve [the memorial] to the best that we can so that, when it gets restored and visitors come aboard, all they focus on is the importance of the memorial.”
Return to the USS Arizona Memorial
With its fresh coat of paint, polished railings, and even new light bulbs, the USS Arizona Memorial is prepped and ready to start welcoming guests. Once again, all Pearl Harbor tours will include time aboard the iconic Pearl Harbor site.
The USS Arizona Memorial is dedicated to the 1,177 sailors and Marines who died when their ship exploded and sank during the surprise attack on December 7, 1941. The names of all the lost crewmen are engraved on the memorial and the sunken hull of USS Arizona can be seen just below the surface.