Volunteers are preparing the USS Arizona Memorial for its eventual reopening
By THE HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER Published: August 19, 2019
HONOLULU (Tribune News Service) — Volunteers continue to clean and polish the USS Arizona Memorial in preparation for the as-yet announced reopening of one of the state’s most visited tourist attractions.
For the past two weekends, members of the Mustang Association, Navy officers who were previously enlisted service members, cleaned, painted and polished the memorial.
Members of the public have not been able to step foot on the memorial since May 2018, when the anchoring system that holds the floating concrete dock next to the memorial failed. Since then visitors have been able to view the memorial only from tour boats. The dock is where 4,000 to 5,000 visitors disembarked daily. The dock has been repaired, but the bridge connecting the dock with the memorial still needs to be replaced.
The U.S. National Park Service is spending more than $2.1 million to restore walk-on public access to the memorial for the 1,177 crew members of the USS Arizona who died in the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The project includes installing heavy-duty synthetic straps to connect the dock with anchors screwed into the seafloor and adjusting the tension. Chains previously connected the dock to concrete blocks that sat in sediment on the harbor floor.
The Park Service is also conducting maintenance, including fixing the memorial’s terrazzo tile floor and doing some painting.
The service has not committed to an opening date. When Interior Secretary David Bernhardt visited the memorial in May, however, he said he would be disappointed if the repairs were not done by October.
Jay Blount, Pearl Harbor National Memorial’s chief of interpretation, said in mid-July the project was on schedule to meet Bernhardt’s expectation. “In the event that we are able to determine a specific date or timeline, we will release that immediately,” Blount said.
Access to the memorial was suspended when park staff noticed minor damage to exterior concrete. Closer inspection of the memorial dock revealed that the root cause was the failure of the dock’s anchoring system, which allowed too much lateral movement by the floating concrete dock where passengers disembarked from Navy boats.
King tides in 2017 are believed to have dislodged heavy concrete blocks sunk into the sediment of Pearl Harbor and connected by chains to the dock.
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