Three Pearl Harbor museums and memorials are closing following the decision Monday to shutter the USS Arizona Memorial, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state and the center of gravity for the other museums in the historic harbor.
The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park said on Facebook today that effective immediately, the submarine museum “will be temporarily closed” following COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health officials.
“Your safety is important to us, please look out for one another during this time,” the museum said.
The Battleship Missouri Memorial said it “is with sincere consideration that we have decided to close our doors to visitors” effective Wednesday.
“We will continue to monitor and assess the COVID-19 situation and make informed decisions about our operations in compliance with CDC guidelines and recommendations with the best interest of our team members and community in mind,” said Michael Carr, president and CEO of the USS Missouri Memorial Association.
“At this time, we plan to remain closed through April 30,” Carr said in a release. “If we are able to open our doors sooner, please trust that we will do so. Throughout this closure, our team will continue to preserve and restore the historic Mighty Mo with the utmost health and safety considerations in mind.”
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum said it will temporarily close to the public starting Wednesday and will reopen “as soon as it is safe to do so.”
“We join our partners at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites and other leadership teams across the world in urging the public to maintain best health practices to slow the spread of this virus,” said Executive Director Elissa Lines.
The USS Arizona Memorial draws 4,000 to 5,000 visitors a day to the battlefield that pulled America into World War II and honors the resiliency of the “greatest generation” who endured the horrors of the deadliest conflict in human history.
The museum shutdowns come after falling attendance and revenue associated with a 15-month stop to walk-on visits in 2018-19 due to fixes needed to the floating dock that serves the Arizona Memorial.
A total of 1,177 men were lost on the Arizona, which still ranks as the Navy’s single greatest loss of life. In 2018 nearly 1.8 million people visited the Pearl Harbor site.
The far-reaching coronavirus closures come amid planning for the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in which the battleship Missouri and other parts of Oahu are planned to have major roles for Aug. 29-to-Sept. 2 events.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a Jan. 27 memo that he was seeking coordinated defense efforts for a “lift of opportunity” to get up to 24 privately owned warbirds to Oahu for the commemoration.
More than 800 bombers and other aircraft overflew the Missouri at the Sept. 2, 1945, surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay in a show of the overwhelming force the United States was able to bring to bear in World War II.
The 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, with the theme “Salute Their Service, Honor Their Hope,” is to be commemorated on Oahu with educational forums, galas, a parade, the anticipated warbird flyovers and a Sept. 2 ceremony on and adjacent to the Missouri expected to be attended by 5,000 to 10,000 people.
The end of the war will be memorialized on Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day, on May 8 with ceremonies and over 100 World War II fighters and bombers flying over the National Mall in Washington, D.C.