At Pearl Harbor, only the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center is open at this time, and for the foreseeable future. The USS Arizona Memorial remains in a frustrating, nearly year long closure for repairs. Read on for more on what’s open and what’s not, what the problem is, and how long this could go on for.
The memorial is the most iconic part of Pearl Harbor, which is to this day the number one visitor destination in Hawaii. What happened at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, resulted in America’s entry into World War II on the following day.
The delay in reopening is beyond disappointing, since in November, the National Park Service (“NPS”) announced that repairs on the USS Arizona Memorial would be completed by March 2019, so visits would restart this spring. And that followed the previous NPS plan for repairs to be completed for the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on December 7.
But now this new delay and here is why.
Critical repairs have not yet even begun
After 10 months of waiting, park superintendent, Jacqueline Ashwell, said that the contract for the needed repairs has not even been awarded. She went on to say, “Despite our best efforts and optimism, our previously estimated timeline for restoring access to the USS Arizona Memorial has been delayed and it will not reopen this March…. I am frustrated, as all of us are. I can promise you that every person working on this project is working as hard as they can, and are dedicated to reopening the memorial to the public as soon as we can.”
Balderdash. Unfortunately, from everything we read and hear, NPS is inept and worse. At this time, there is no projected date for reopening of the memorial and we suspect it will go on for many more months.
Congress to the rescue?
This week Hawaii’s senators and US representatives wrote this to the federal agency: “NPS is announcing that the reopening of the dock has yet again been pushed back to a later date to be determined…. This announcement is both frustrating and disappointing to the public…. We request that you provide us with monthly written updates until the floating dock at the USS Arizona Memorial is repaired and reopened to the public.”
Given the extraordinary importance of the monument both historically and in Hawaii tourism, together with the nature of NPS, we can’t help but wonder why our representatives didn’t get involved in this a whole lot sooner.
USS Arizona Closure
Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial was closed indefinitely in May 2018, as a result of emergency repairs needed to its visitor dock and ramp.
While the memorial itself will remain closed indefinitely (ugg), visitors can still see the moving 25 minute documentary, which is followed by a harbor tour of Battleship Row nearby (but not docking at) the USS Arizona Memorial.
The Remainder of Pearl Harbor Remains Open and Accessible
That includes the two free museums, exhibits, bookstore, and virtual reality center. The Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor are also open.
Pearl Harbor: Hawaii’s Most Popular Attraction
The USS Arizona Memorial draws more than 1.8 million visitors annually. It was built over remains of sunken battleship USS Arizona, where 1,177 crewmen were killed on December 7, 1941.
The remainder of Pearl Harbor remains open daily from 7am to 5pm (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission and parking is free to all visitors.
Go Oahu Card Includes Pearl Harbor Memorials and More
If you’re looking for things to do on Oahu, including Pearl Harbor, read how we used the Go Oahu card and saved $144 each. It includes the Battleship Missouri, USS Bowfin, and Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor among its 31 attractions.
Pearl Harbor History: 77 Years Old
We were at Pearl Harbor on its 75th anniversary. In a word, we were very moved. Both of us heard about how this day had impacted our families so many years ago. And how emotional they were when they subsequently were able to visit Pearl Harbor themselves. Jeff’s aunt remembered when time stood still on that day as the news struck across the country.
December 7, 1941 was the infamous day that led to the US entry into World War II. The attack started at 7:48 in the morning as 353 Japanese planes launched from 6 aircraft carriers and struck in two waves. Eight US battleships in the harbor were damaged and 4 were sunk in addition to the loss of 188 aircraft. 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 injured.
The USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, now the iconic memorial pictured above, was only one of two ships which remained sunk, with the others all raised and six returned to war time service. The Arizona, which had been hit with a nearly 1 ton bomb, exploded and sank with 1,000 sailors aboard.
Oil continues to be exuded from the remains clearly visible below the blue Pacific.
The closed memorial was dedicated in 1962, and soon thereafter the National Park Service took over the operations of the historic landmark. Millions of annual visitors are still drawn to this top Hawaii attraction.
For us, the highlight of Pearl Harbor is by far the shuttered USS Arizona memorial. We also enjoyed the half hour documentary film followed by the brief but haunting boat ride out to the eerie memorial itself.
On our last visit, we also liked the new visitor center and the fascinating Pacific Aviation Museum. The museum includes two original hangars replete with not repaired bullet holes and the original control tower. Planes and helicopters on display with their stories provide fascinating insights into a time gone by.
Photo credit NPS.