The National Park Service said today it has awarded a $2.1 million contract for repairs to a faulty USS Arizona Memorial dock that should be completed “by fall” in time for the next Dec. 7, 1941, remembrance.
However, that means there will be no walk-on visitation through the busy summer season.
The park service provided the caveat that repairs are projected to be completed by fall provided no additional complications arise during construction.
Several deadlines to reopen the memorial have come and gone since walk-on visitation was halted last May to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state.
“We are excited to see this critical project enter its final phase,” Jacqueline Ashwell, superintendent of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, which oversees the Arizona Memorial, said in a release.
“A project of this scope and complexity would normally take three to four years to plan and complete, but we’ve been able to get to this point in the project in less than a year” because of the efforts by many employees at the National Park Service, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and several contractors, she said.
Access to the memorial was suspended last May when park service staff noticed minor damage to the exterior concrete on the Arizona Memorial. After initial repairs were made, the damage reappeared.
Closer inspection of the memorial dock revealed that the root cause of the damage stemmed from failure of the dock’s anchoring system, which allowed too much lateral movement by the 105-floating concrete structure where passengers disembarked from Navy boats.
“There are still many things visitors can experience when they come to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center,” said Jay Blount, chief of interpretation for the site. “Our programming includes screening a 25-minute documentary, participating in a narrated harbor tour on Navy vessels, and exploring many of our partner sites such as the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park and the Pacific Historic Parks bookstore and virtual reality center.”
U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono today secured a commitment from David Bernhardt, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Interior Department, to provide monthly updates on the status of dock repairs at the Arizona Memorial at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
After previously estimating that it could reopen the memorial by Dec. 7, 2018, the National Park Service pushed back its target date for completing repairs to the end of this month. The park service announced recently it would not make the March deadline, either, and was not sure when it would restore public access to the memorial.
“The USS Arizona Memorial, I hope you had a chance to visit it, but there’s ongoing dock repair at the memorial and there’s no foot access,” Hirono said at the hearing. “You can imagine the millions of people who are very disappointed — including the 2,000 or so World War II veterans who plan their visits to Hawaii based on going to this memorial.”
Hirono noted the park service moved the date for the reopening “a number of times.”
“I’d like to get your support for working with our delegation to give us monthly updates on what’s going on, and why we keep having to defer when the dock is going to be reopened,” she told Bernhardt.
“So let me tell you a personal fact, my great uncle went down on the USS Arizona,” Bernhardt responded. “So I can assure you there is no one in the Department of Interior that’s more interested in having that problem addressed than I am. We will absolutely get you a monthly update.”
The park’s website and social media sites will be updated to inform the public of project milestones achieved and of any planned interruptions to visitor programming, officials said.