HONOLULU (AP) — Visitors are once again going to the USS Arizona Memorial after the Navy finished repairing damage to a dock that kept the Pearl Harbor landmark closed for over a week, the National Park Service said Friday.
A mishap involving a Navy hospital ship and two tugboats last Wednesday forced the park service to suspend boat tours to the memorial. Sailors finished repairing the dock on Thursday. The Navy will inspect the dock for safety each morning before the first tour.
The memorial honors the 1,177 sailors and Marines on the Arizona who died when Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. More than 900 servicemen are still entombed on the battleship, which lies in the harbor.
Visitors ride boats operated by the Navy to visit the memorial, which sits atop the sunken ship. The Navy had been taking visitors to a spot near the memorial to view it from afar while repair work was performed.
Chris Guidi and his family, who were visiting Hawaii from Virginia, originally intended to see the memorial on Monday, but they changed their plans after learning about the damage.
The commercial real estate developer said he wanted his three young daughters to better understand the sacrifices made by those who fought for their country. He called the memorial "very moving."
"It would have been disappointing to have come from Arlington, Virginia, and then just missed it by a couple of days. So we're glad we got to see it," said Guidi.
Marissa Hein, 17, said she was struck by the knowledge that men were trapped on the ship. Hein and her grandfather Kenneth McCausland, 73, said it was better to go on the memorial itself instead of seeing it from a distance.
"It makes it better to be able to walk on it," said Hein, of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The Navy's Military Sealift Command and the U.S. Coast Guard have each launched investigations into the mishap.
The Navy said the hospital ship USNS Mercy may have hit the dock as it maneuvered out of Pearl Harbor with two tugboats. Waves generated by one of the Mercy's propellers pushed the dock about 10 feet toward the memorial.
The mishap inflicted superficial damage to the memorial itself.
There was no damage to the remnants of the Arizona, and no apparent damage to the Mercy.
The park service expects strong demand for the 4,350 tickets available each day because no visitors have been able to go to the memorial since May 26.