HONOLULU, May 29 (UPI) -- The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor will be closed until at least June 4, after a hospital ship collided with a dock leading to the memorial, authorities said.
The damage occurred when two tugboats were maneuvering the USNS Mercy, a 894-foot-long, 69,000-ton hospital ship, from its berth to prepare to go to sea. As the Mercy turned to head out of the channel it "may have made contact" with the floating dock that leads to the white building that spans the sunken battleship, authorities said. The dock was pushed nearly 10 feet, damaging the concrete, handrails and ramps. There was no damage to the Arizona or the Mercy in the Wednesday morning collision.
"It went right over the dock," an unidentified witness told Military.com. "You could hear the metal crunching. My husband said you could see mud and water being kicked up. It backed up to within feet of hitting the white memorial building."
The National Park Service said until the dock is repaired, visitors can take a boat to view the Arizona.
"We certainly appreciate the understanding of veterans, visitors and kama'aina (local residents)," said Capt. Stan Keeve, commander, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. "Rest assured – we're working closely with our partners at the National Park Service to safely reopen the USS Arizona Memorial as soon as we possibly can."
The USS Arizona was sunk Dec. 7, 1941, in a surprise attack by the Japanese, bringing the United States into World War II. The remains of most of the ship's 1,177 crew who died aboard the ship remain. The memorial was dedicated in 1962 and sees thousands of visitors a day.