Home » News & Analysis » UPDATED: Tug Moving U.S. Navy Hospital Ship May Have Struck USS Arizona Memorial


UPDATED: Tug Moving U.S. Navy Hospital Ship May Have Struck USS Arizona Memorial

A photo of USNS Mercy near the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii shortly after a tug pushing the ship may have struck the iconic white pavilion. Photo courtesy Military.com.

A photo of USNS Mercy near the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii shortly after a tug pushing the ship may have struck the iconic white pavilion. Photo courtesy Military.com.

This post has been updated to include a statement from the National Park Service and local press reports that indicate the USNS Mercy may have struck the memorial.

A U.S. Navy hospital ship or a tug maneuvering it through a narrow channel may have struck the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii on Wednesday, according to the service and local press reports.

At about 7:30 A.M. local time, the tug was pushing the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) past the memorial near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam when either the tug or Mercy struck a dock adjacent to the memorial.

“Initial reports indicated that a tugboat hit the Memorial, but an investigation is underway,” read an early statement from Navy Region Hawaii.
“White boat passenger traffic onto the memorial has to be suspended as we assess the full extent of damage and can ensure the safety of visitors.”

A spokeswoman for the memorial told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser it was in fact Mercy that struck the memorial.

According to a statement from the National Park Service, one of the ships had collided with a dock used to disembark visitors to the memorial and the site will be closed for several days while the Navy and the park service asses the damage.

“Initial visual assessments show that the dock was moved about 10 feet toward the Memorial,” a statement from the National Park Service said.
“A small area of concrete was damaged where the dock’s ramp joined the Memorial. The dock’s ramps and railings were also damaged.”

The site will be closed for several days while the park service and the Navy asses the damage.

“We deeply regret the impact this will have on visitors’ experience, but we want to make sure that everyone has a safe visit. We will work closely with the Navy to resume access to the Memorial as soon as safety allows,” USS Arizona Memorial superintendent Paul DePrey said in the statement.

The incident was first reported on Wednesday by the news site, Military.com.

“It went right over the dock,” a witness told Military.com. “You could hear the metal crunching. My husband said you could see mud and water being kicked up. It backed up to within feet of hitting the white memorial building.”

USS Arizona (BB-39) was lost during the Imperial Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

The ship’s sunken hull is the resting place of 1,102 sailors and Marines of the total 1,177 who died onboard .

The iconic white pavilion to which visitors can see the memorial was built in 1962 and is maintained by the U.S. National Park Service.

The following is the complete May 27, 2015 statement from Navy Region Hawaii

The floating dock at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor was damaged this morning (May 27) as the Hospital Ship USNS Mercy was underway. Initial reports indicated that a tug boat hit the Memorial, but an investigation is underway. White boat passenger traffic onto the memorial has to be suspended as we assess the full extent of damage and can ensure the safety of visitors. In the meantime, the white boat tours of Pearl Harbor continue from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center without the ability to disembark passengers aboard the USS Arizona Memorial. An assessment and investigation is underway.

  • NavySubNuke

    What an embarrassment. I realize those are restricted waters but it is the Arizona for God’s sake.

    • redgriffin

      Nothing is so sacrosanct that it can’t be hit by ships. As I remember when our Carriers docked at that dock in the 8o’s we swung rather close also if fact I’d be surprised if this was the first time memorial has’ been hit ever.

  • Jake

    “navigating the narrow channel….” it must be 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile wide. That ship could go through sideways and not even come close to the Arizona.

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  • Jay

    Probably Obama’s fault.

    • Steve

      No, don’t you know it is Bush’s fault.

      • Hehe idiots. Dont you know if its on your watch its on your crotch. FDR’ fault.

      • Jay

        No way man! Every real Murkan knows that history is only as far back as last Christmas and actually began on January 20, 2009. And thankfully Dim Son is down in Texas preparing to defend against the Kenyan Muslim’s Jade Helm takeover of his great state. He’s probably working on getting the Band back together for Jeb and talking some serious strategery with Cheney the Dickless Draft Dodger.

  • gunnerv1

    That “Channel” is not that damn “Narrow”, They move Aircraft Carriers in that very same “Narrow Channel” (Home Ported, Pearl Harbor, 13 years (and hated the last twelve years and fifty weeks, USN,’64-’86)). The “Pilot” and “Tug Captain” are in Deep Do Do.

    • redgriffin

      No but the ships today are very long and very wide and ships like the “Mercy” and “Comfort” are not as maneuverable as warships after all they are built on Super Tanker Hulls.

      • gunnerv1

        It’s not the first time for the Mercy to be in Pearl. The Pilot/Tug Captain screwed up by backing down the Mercy too close to the Arizona. The PH Ship Basin is large enough to turn the Mercy into a “pin Wheel” and still not hit anything. The worst I’ve seen (by actually being there on the “Fantail” (Stern) with a Tug along side, many, many times) is mud being turned up from the “Prop Wash”.

        • redgriffin

          I’ve seen then push a Nimitz Class close to the memorial. that’s why they close the memorial when ships are moved from Hotel Pier and why I said earlier in a different post that I doubt that this is the first time the memorial has been hit.

      • Capt Woody Sanford

        Hey Red: Those were San Clemente Class hulls. I don’t believe they were classified as Super Tankers. I am retired Navy Medical Corps. We were glad to get those ships, no matter the hull. Woody

        • redgriffin

          The Hospital Ships are Supertanker hulls and the navy even admits it. The 2 are single screw and are not as maneuverable as the multi engine and screwed carriers that moor there regularly.

        • redgriffin

          Hey Skipper have you looked them up or just out to impress with your rank?

          • Capt Woody Sanford

            Hey Red: Yeah, I was reserve then and they asked our opinion about staffing and equipment. I strongly suggested they include CAT Scanners. They did but didn’t maintain them and keep’em up. Doctors in the Navy got lots of rank if they stayed,except for admiral. very few of those. I retired in 1988, so don’t impress anyone now. Thanks for calling me Skipper. Woody

  • publius_maximus_III

    That Tug’s captain needs to be court martialed.

    • Steve Skubinna

      The tug captain is a civilian, as is the PH pilot.

      • publius_maximus_III

        That Tug’s captain needs his license pulled.

      • gunnerv1

        Not necessarily true, when I was there (Home Ported at PH for 13 years) the Tug Crew(s) were Enlisted including the “Tug Captain”, usually an E-6 at minimum, but it is true The “Pilot” has always been a Civilian. The Mercy is a USNS Ship (The Stack has a Blue,Grey & Gold band painted on it) with a Civilian Crew (except Medical Staff).

        • Steve Skubinna

          I don’t know when you were last in Pearl, but for me it was 2013. The tugs were commercial contract boats, with contract crews. The pilots are Navy civilians. Even Diego Garcia, which has no commercial port at all, has contract tugs and crews now. On the other hand DGAR is one of the few places remaining where the pilots are active duty Navy and not civilian.

          The only exception I am aware of is Navy Region Northwest (Puget Sound), where the tugs are Navy owned and crewed by Navy civilians.

          • gunnerv1

            Dear Fellow FINCH (DER-328) Crewman (Vetzel, James P., SA/SN ’66-’67, USN ’64-’86) I was Homeported in Pearl on 5 different DE/FF/DDG’s and each one did a stint in the Yards and Dry Dock, The only crewmen I saw on the Yard Tugs (YTM, YTS) were Navy personnel (Including WAVES (They’ll never make me change calling them that). We were moved “Cold Iron” many times by those Tugs and all I saw in the Wheel House were Navy and on Deck with a White Hat (and Ball Caps) with the Tug pilot with a Khaki Combination Hat. Maybe they were only servicing the Repair Yards. You probably retired about the same time as I and I forgot your Rank at Retirement (FINCH News Letter (Thank You)). Hows the Commodore doing? Haven’t heard much about Capt. Thompson. Now that I look back on it, I actually enjoyed my time on FINCH, Tought me to appreciate the newer Class DE’s/FF’s

          • Steve Skubinna

            Mistaken identity! My dad was Finch CO in ’66/7 (LCDR Myron Skubinna). I was just a snotty faced kid scrambling all over Guam at that time.

            As for myself, I am about to retire from Military Sealift Command. Last visit to Pearl was as navigator aboard USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2).

    • OLDNAVYVET

      “Marshaled???”

      • publius_maximus_III

        Er.. court sheriff-ed? Thanks for the eagle eye, Old-Swabbie. I have made the needed correction.

  • Pat Patterson

    One less CO!

  • Bill

    Many people who visit PH are there for the only time in their lives. Some will not get to visit the memorial due to this. Sad.

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  • Curtis Conway

    No ‘Aft Lookout’ on the sound-powered phones?

  • James B.

    My sentimental side is glad they didn’t actually hit the hull of USS Arizona, for the sake of the battleship, and my practical side is glad they didn’t hit the hull of the battleship, for the sake of the hospital ship. Had USNS Mercy hit the an armored steel object under the water line, it could have very likely badly damaged. Be careful!

    • publius_maximus_III

      What were they thinking? It’s like running a bulldozer down the narrow rows at Arlington. Not permitted!!!

  • Warbird

    My view from the USS Missouri Memorial: