USS Arizona Memorial Closures

Over the years, the USS Arizona Memorial has been closed to the public for different reasons.
1. If lightning is close to Pearl Harbor, the US Navy will cancel the shuttles for safety reasons.
2. Strong winds, usually 35-40 miles an hour or greater, make docking at the USS Arizona Memorial extremely dangerous; the US Navy personnel will solely determine when the shuttles are canceled and when it is safe to resume.
3. US Government shutdowns have closed the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center at least five times over the past few decades.

The entrance to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial on Oahu. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Visitors entering the exiting the Arizona Memorial Monument at Pearl Harbor. The US Navy operated shuttle boats ferry visitors between the Arizona Memorial Monument and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

On May 27, 2015, the 900-foot USNS Mercy was about to leave Pearl Harbor and was being towed from its dock when it went too fast and hit the dock adjacent to the Battleship Arizona Memorial. Even though the Mercy’s tug boats tried to stop the ship, it was so heavy and oversized that it caused significant damage to the Memorial’s dock. At first, the Navy and National Park Service felt that the Memorial structure and possibly the hull for the battleship Arizona were also damaged. However, after the Navy divers inspected the entire situation, it was found that only the floating dock needed to be repaired.

The same day the dock was damaged, the Navy engineers and divers had disengaged the Memorial dock, and it was taken to be replaced. News of this mishap went worldwide, and the National Park Service, US Navy, Pearl Harbor Historic Site partners, and Pacific Historic Parks, were flooded with calls of concern. Approximately two weeks later, with the Navy working day and night, the USS Arizona Memorial had its repaired dock, and the tours began immediately.

National Park Service Was Heavily Criticized for Closing the Memorial for 18 Months
The most extended closure of the USS Arizona Memorial ran from May 26, 2018, to Sept 1, 2019, about a year and one half. The National Park Service discovered a crack in the entry ramp connecting the dock to the Memorial. It was determined that this was a major structural issue in which the dock was slowly pulling away from the Memorial. For safety reasons, it was determined that all tours needed to be suspended indefinitely until studies, recommendations, and budgets could be secured.

After a year of no tours to the Arizona Memorial, the National Park Service started getting terrible publicity from newspapers, the travel Industry, Veteran associations, and the public for not getting started on the repairs.

How could the world’s strongest and most prosperous nation not be able to fix a small floating dock to one of our nation’s most sacred national treasures? In defense, The National Park Service explained to the public that they wanted to be sure that they followed all the environmental impact studies and that none of the new anchors for the floating dock would hit any unexploded Japanese torpedoes buried in the mud from the Dec 7th attack. Nevertheless, this extended closure gave the National Park Service a black- eye for their lack of urgency in fixing the dock. All they had to do, was ask the US Navy for help.

The ramp to the entrance of the Arizona Memorial Monument. The shuttle boats are suspended if the conditions on the water are too rough to safely enter the USS Arizona Memorial.

The assembly room of the Arizona Memorial Monument. It is unusual to see the USS Arizona Memorial without people, but many times, closures are unforeseen.

In October of 2022, the USS Arizona Memorial was closed for over a month due to the broken docks at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. This is another example of how the National Park Service needs to be correctly servicing its facilities at the Visitor Center. This dock issue has been going on for at least five years, and no action was taken until it became a huge safety issue and the shuttles had to be canceled.

Fortunately, the National Park Service Superintendent at Pearl Harbor has recently been changed, and he seems to have more urgency in keeping the USS Arizona Memorial open to the public.