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.