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USS Arizona Memorial dock repairs expected to take a week

    Tours on the memorial have been suspended indefinitely after a vessel struck and damaged the structure's dock Wednesday, the National Park Service said. Instead, boats were taking visitors to a spot in Pearl Harbor near the memorial where they can view it from a distance, said spokeswoman Abby Wines.

The National Park Service and the Navy aim to resume taking visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial in a week, after a dock damaged by a wayward vessel is repaired.

An attachment point between the floating dock and its anchors came loose in the incident, park service spokeswoman Abby Wines said Thursday. Anchors will need to be reset and chains retightened, she said. The dock’s ramp and handrails were also mangled.

The incident occurred when two tugboats were maneuvering the hospital ship USNS Mercy from a pier in Pearl Harbor out to sea, the two agencies said in joint statement issued along with the Coast Guard and the Military Sealift Command.

The Mercy may have hit the memorial’s floating dock, the statement said. In addition, waves generated by the propeller in the back of Mercy pushed the floating dock about 10 feet toward the memorial.

The remains of the USS Arizona weren’t damaged.

Visitors will be able to enter the memorial at the World War II battleship starting June 4 if repairs go as expected, Wines said.

The memorial honors the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on the Arizona when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. The remains of more than 900 servicemen are still entombed on the ship, which lies underneath the memorial’s white structure.

To go there, visitors board boats at a visitors’ center on land for a short ride across the harbor. The memorial is one of Hawaii’s most heavily visited sites, drawing nearly 1.6 million people each year.

The Navy, which operates the tour boats, has been taking visitors to a spot near the memorial to view the ship from afar while the dock is being repaired.

Visitors are understandably disappointed but many are still grateful for the opportunity to get close to and see the hallowed site, Wines said.

"For many people this is their only trip to this island and the USS Arizona may be the iconic thing that they’ve planned to come here to visit. It’s an extremely significant, powerful part of our history," she said.

She stressed the visitors’ center remains open, along with other historic sites in Pearl Harbor such as the retired battleship Missouri.

Navy Region Hawaii spokesman Bill Doughty said the Navy is repairing the dock as fast as it can.

"The sooner we can do it the better," he said.

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