Officials say USS Arizona Memorial reopening delayed

Jun 3, 2015, 7:30 PM

HONOLULU (AP) — Repairs to the damaged dock of the USS Arizona Memorial have been taking longer than expected, which will delay the reopening of the Pearl Harbor landmark at least a day, the Navy and National Park Service said Wednesday.

Repairs will continue into the evening and perhaps Thursday, said Bill Doughty, a spokesman for Navy Region Hawaii.

Safety inspections of the repairs could take a day or two, said National Park Service spokeswoman Abby Wines. That’s in part because officials need to make sure the new passenger gangway leading from the boat and pier to the memorial safely adjusts to high and low tides.

Wines said officials now hope to reopen the memorial on Friday or Saturday. They had initially aimed to reopen on Thursday.

“Our highest priority is making sure that visitors are safe once they go out there. Second-highest priority is opening as soon as possible,” said Wines.

A mishap involving the hospital ship USNS Mercy and two tugboats damaged the dock last week.

The Navy said the Mercy may have hit the dock as the vessels maneuvered out of Pearl Harbor. Waves generated by one of the Mercy’s propellers pushed the dock about 10 feet toward the memorial.

The memorial honors the 1,177 sailors and Marines on the Arizona who died when Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. More than 900 servicemen are still entombed on the battleship, which lies in the harbor.

Visitors ride boats operated by the Navy to visit the memorial, which sits atop the sunken ship. The Navy has been taking visitors to a spot near the memorial to view it from afar while repair work was performed.

The mishap inflicted superficial damage to the memorial itself.

There was no damage to the battleship and no apparent damage to the Mercy.

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Officials say USS Arizona Memorial reopening delayed