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Navy: Repairs to USS Arizona Memorial Dock Close to Complete, Could Open by Weekend

US Navy Seabees conduct repairs on the USS Arizona Memorial on May 29, 2015. US National Park Service Photo

US Navy Seabees conduct repairs on the USS Arizona Memorial on May 29, 2015. US National Park Service Photo

Repairs to a floating dock at the USS Arizona Memorial that was damaged during the transit of an U.S. Navy hospital ship last week are almost completed and visitors could return to the memorial by Friday or Saturday, Navy Region Hawaii said in a statement late Wednesday night.

The floating dock used to disembark visitors to the memorial was heavily damaged following a collision from either USNS Mercy (T-AH-19), the two tugs that were moving it or some other combination last week.

“Navy divers, Seabees, Air Force civil engineers, crane operators, safety inspectors and others have been working night and day and through last weekend to complete repairs to the floating dock and access structure leading to the USS Arizona Memorial,” read the statement from Navy Region Hawaii.
“Overall repairs, which were expected to be completed this afternoon, are continuing into the evening. Safety is a top priority throughout the repair process, and thorough safety assessments, structural inspections and quality assurance checks are being conducted.”

The Navy’s initial estimate had the repairs completed by June 3.

The memorial is located above the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) on which 1,177 sailors and Marines died during the 1941 Imperial Japan attack on Pearl Harbor and is one of Hawaii’s most popular tourist attractions.

“We know this situation is causing a great deal of inconvenience this week, and we certainly appreciate the understanding and forbearance of veterans, visitors and kama’aina [Hawaiian for local],” said Capt. Stan Keeve, commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in the statement.

US Navy Seabees conduct repairs on the USS Arizona Memorial on May 29, 2015. US National Park Service Photo

US Navy Seabees conduct repairs on the USS Arizona Memorial on May 29, 2015. US National Park Service Photo

The memorial has been closed to visitors since May 27 and some other attractions have complained in a drop off in visits.

Since the memorial has been closed, visitors have been taken near the site via boat and reservations for tours have been cancelled or delayed.

“We usually see seven to eight hundred people a day, we’re about half that now,” Ken Dehoff, executive director of the Pacific Aviation Museum, told Hawaii News Now earlier this week.

The following is the complete June 3, 2015 statement from Navy Region Hawaii.

USS Arizona Memorial Repairs Nearing Completion

By Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

Navy Divers, Seabees, Air Force civil engineers, crane operators, safety inspectors and others have been working night and day and through last weekend to complete repairs to the floating dock and access structure leading to the USS Arizona Memorial.

Today divers successfully adjusted anchor chains to have the floating platform at the correct distance and in the right position. The brow will be installed today and monitored overnight for stability. (The brow is the passenger gangway leading from the boat and pier to the memorial.)

Overall repairs, which were expected to be completed this afternoon, are continuing into the evening. Safety is a top priority throughout the repair process, and thorough safety assessments, structural inspections and quality assurance checks are being conducted.

“We know this situation is causing a great deal of inconvenience this week, and we certainly appreciate the understanding and forbearance of veterans, visitors and kama’aina [Hawaiian for local],” said Capt. Stan Keeve, Commander, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“This continues to be a tremendous team effort – both with our military-civilian team and together with our partners at the National Park Service,” Keeve added. “We’re working as quickly as possible – but as safely as possible – to complete the repairs.”

Paul DePrey, National Park Service Superintendent of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument stated, “The National Park Service appreciates the dedicated hard work that the Navy has put into repairing the floating dock for the USS Arizona Memorial. The National Park Service’s top priority is visitor safety. Public visitation on the memorial will resume as soon as the NPS and Navy have evaluated the repairs for safety.”

The National Park Service anticipates that safety inspections could take 24 to 48 hours to complete. One aspect of this safety inspection is to verify that the replaced brow (connector between the floating dock and stationary memorial) adjusts to tidal fluctuations. If repairs are completed by this afternoon (June 3), then the memorial might reopen on Friday or Saturday. Updates will be posted on www.nps.gov/valr and www.facebook.com/valorNPS.

All other Pearl Harbor Historic Sites have remained open during the dock repairs: USS Oklahoma Memorial, Battleship Missouri, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, and (for those with military base access) the USS Utah Memorial. Modified boat tours to Battleship Row have continued to give visitors a view of the USS Arizona Memorial.

On May 27, the Hospital Ship USNS Mercy was being maneuvered by two tugboats to transit Pearl Harbor from its berth at Hotel Pier as it prepared to go to sea. As the Mercy turned to head out to the channel, the ship may have made contact with the floating dock leading to the USS Arizona Memorial. Strong prop wash from the ship pushed the floating dock and access structure (brow) approximately ten feet toward the memorial, damaging handrails and the dock’s infrastructure.

There was no damage to the remains of the USS Arizona vessel and no apparent damage to the Mercy. The memorial experienced minor superficial damage. There were no injuries.

Investigations are well underway and being led by U.S. Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command.

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Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News.
He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. In his role he covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.