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Navy investigators to begin probe of Arizona dock mishap

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Tours on the memorial have been suspended indefinitely after a vessel struck and damaged the structure's dock Wednesday
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The Navy command overseeing the hospital ship involved in a mishap that damaged the USS Arizona Memorial’s dock has sent investigators to Hawaii to probe what happened.

Investigators will arrive this weekend and begin working immediately, Tom Van Leunen, a spokesman for the Military Sealift Command said in an email.

The command’s operations chief, Capt. Dean Vesely, will lead the investigation, Van Leunan said. Vesely is based at the command’s headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.

The U.S. Coast Guard has started its own probe because civilian tugboats were involved.

The incident occurred Wednesday when two tugboats were maneuvering the USNS Mercy hospital ship out of Pearl Harbor.

The Navy said waves generated by the Mercy’s propeller pushed the dock about 10 feet toward the memorial. The Navy says the Mercy may have also hit the dock.

Tours on the memorial have been suspended until the dock is repaired. The Navy aims to fix the dock by Wednesday so tours may resume on Thursday.

An attachment point between the floating dock and its anchors came loose in the incident. Anchors will need to be reset and chains retightened. The dock’s ramp and handrails were also mangled.

The Arizona memorial usually receives up to 4,350 visitors a day who take short boat rides from shore. The Navy and National Park Service are taking visitors by boat to “Battleship Row,” to see the memorial from afar, while dock repairs continue.

The memorial sits atop the rusting hull of the battleship Arizona, which sank in the 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. It honors the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed in the attack. More than 900 servicemen are entombed in the ship.

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