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The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor will stay closed through fall. Still, there's plenty to do at the World War II site

The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor will stay closed through fall. Still, there's plenty to do at the World War II site
The USS Arizona Memorial, which floats above the wreckage of the torpedoed battleship, will remain closed to visitors until at least Oct. 1. Repairs are expected to begin within about a month on the loading dock where Navy shuttle boats moor during tours. (National Park Service)

One of Hawaii’s most popular tourist attractions — the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor – will not reopen until fall at the earliest. In the meantime, visitors can take a free boat tour to the site of the World War II battleship and see other ships and museums.

During the protracted closure, boat tours continue, but without docking at the memorial. Instead, the Navy shuttles tour Battleship Row. The free tours — tickets are available each morning on a first-come, first-served basis — feature new narration.

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Also can book up to two months in advance at Recreation.gov. The boat tours are still free, but there is a $1.50 handling fee.

The setting sun casts a pink glow onto the USS Arizona Memorial and the waters of Pearl Harbor, where the battleship sank during an attack by Japanese forces on Dec. 7, 1941.
The setting sun casts a pink glow onto the USS Arizona Memorial and the waters of Pearl Harbor, where the battleship sank during an attack by Japanese forces on Dec. 7, 1941. (Daniel Martinez/National Park Service)

The Honolulu-area World War II memorial, which sits above the sunken battleship with nearly 1,200 men entombed inside, abruptly closed May 6 after the adjacent loading dock was deemed unsafe.

A firm reopening date has yet to be determined, but engineers have begun the process of determining the best way to anchor the dock to the ocean floor. A 30-day timeframe for completion of the report is stipulated in a government contract awarded early last week.

A photographer looks up at the floating monument from below.
A photographer looks up at the floating monument from below. (National Park Service)

“We would expect, being that we just signed the contract last week, that by late August, we’ll have the plan in place,” said Jay Blount, spokesman for the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

“We’ve been told that the implementation of this plan [the construction phase] will take at least 30 days. It could take longer,” Blount continued. “We don’t expect access to the USS Arizona Memorial to resume before Oct. 1.”

Blount said the expected reopening date will probably not be met, despite the fact that the National Park Service has began ordering parts for the new anchoring system. He said it is far more technologically advanced than the one installed prior to the memorial’s opening in May 1962.

The USS Arizona Memorial during its construction in March 1962.
The USS Arizona Memorial during its construction in March 1962. (National Park Service)

“We’re comfortable saying ‘not before Oct. 1,’ but that’s about as detailed as we can get with the timeline,” he said.

Amid other torpedoed battleships, the USS Nevada managed to get underway on Dec. 7, 1941. However, Japanese aircraft sank the ship before it could leave Pearl Harbor.
Amid other torpedoed battleships, the USS Nevada managed to get underway on Dec. 7, 1941. However, Japanese aircraft sank the ship before it could leave Pearl Harbor. (National Park Service)

“As you approach the USS Nevada mooring quay, for example, you can learn about the fact that although she was sunk to the bottom as she tried to leave Pearl Harbor, she was raised and later provided artillery support for the Allies as they stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944,” Blount explained.

Virtual reality headsets bring the events of Dec. 7, 1941, to life for visitors at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
Virtual reality headsets bring the events of Dec. 7, 1941, to life for visitors at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. (Pearl Harbor Visitor Center)

A World War II-era submarine, the Bowfin, is moored nearby and is open for tours.

Visitors to the Pacific Aviation Museum can tour a number of World War II-era aircraft.
Visitors to the Pacific Aviation Museum can tour a number of World War II-era aircraft. (Pacific Aviation Museum)

Across the harbor on Ford Island, the Pacific Aviation Museum — the first target of Japanese aircraft on that fateful Sunday morning — is the repository for numerous military aircraft.

Visitors to the Missouri can stand on the spot where the Japanese surrendered to mark the end of World War II.
Visitors to the Missouri can stand on the spot where the Japanese surrendered to mark the end of World War II. (USS Missouri Memorial Assn.)

The same shuttle buses that take visitors to the aviation museum also stop at the Battleship Missouri Memorial. It was on the deck of this ship, anchored in Tokyo Bay, that the Japanese formally surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945.

A diver inspects gun turrets on the deck of the sunken USS Arizona. Nearly 1,200 men went down with the ship after it was attacked by Japanese aircraft.
A diver inspects gun turrets on the deck of the sunken USS Arizona. Nearly 1,200 men went down with the ship after it was attacked by Japanese aircraft. (Brett Seymour / National Park Service)

Blount said the visitors he encounters continue to enjoy their time at Pearl Harbor despite the closure of the floating memorial.

“Let’s be honest. There’s nothing that’s going to replace standing on the USS Arizona Memorial and peering down through the shallow water that leads to the top of the USS Arizona as she lays on the harbor floor. It’s a national cemetery,” he said.

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