Witness: US Navy Ship Struck USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii
May 27, 2015
[COLOR=#666666 !important]A U.S. Navy ship struck part of the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor on Wednesday morning, according to a woman whose husband witnessed the accident.
Photos submitted by the woman, who declined to be identified because her spouse serves in the Navy, show the naval hospital ship USNS Mercy sailing dangerously close to the USS Arizona Memorial. Her husband took the photographs from nearby Ford Island.
“It went right over the dock,” she 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."
Tug boats were guiding the hospital ship from its port at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at around 7 a.m. local time.
A Navy official who asked not to be identified said of the incident, "It looks like one of the tugs that was pushing her as she left the harbor might have hit the visitor landing to the Arizona."
It’s unclear how much, if any, damage was done to the USS Arizona wreckage.
Spokesmen for the Navy, which owns the ship, and the National Park Service, which manages the memorial, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Attempts to reach a public affairs officer for the ship weren’t successful.
A statement was later posted to the base’s Facebook page that confirmed the dock was damaged. “The floating dock at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor was damaged this morning (May 27) as the Hospital Ship USNS Mercy was underway,” it states. "Initial reports indicated that a tug boat hit the Memorial, but an investigation is underway."
Boat passenger traffic onto the memorial has been suspended to assess the extent of damage and ensure the safety of visitors, it states. Boat tours of Pearl Harbor will continue from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, but without the ability to disembark passengers aboard the USS Arizona Memorial, it states.
The Mercy, operated by the service’s Military Sealift Command, is based in San Diego. It recently arrived in Pearl Harbor in preparation for Pacific Partnership 2015, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indio-Asia-Pacific region, according to Defense Department.
The USS Arizona Memorial is the final resting place of most of the ship’s 1,177 crewmen who were killed during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, according to the National Park Service. The 184-foot-long memorial structure spans the mid-portion of the sunken battleship, according to the service.
(This story was updated to include information from the Navy’s initial response. It will be updated again if the service releases further information.)
[I]-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at [/I][I]Brendan.McGarry@military.com[/I]
[I]-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at Amy.Bushatz@Military.com[/I]
[I]-- Michael Hoffman can be reached at [/I][I]Mike.Hoffman@military.com[/I]
U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Strikes USS Arizona Memorial[/U][/B]