March 13, 2019

Hawaii Congressional Delegation Demands Updates from National Park Service on Reopening USS Arizona Memorial

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to National Park Service (NPS) Acting Director Dan Smith, the Hawaii Congressional Delegation requested frequent updates detailing progress made on the reopening of the floating dock at the USS Arizona Memorial that unexpectedly closed in May 2018. The floating dock is the only way for visitors to access the memorial on foot. During closure of the dock, visitor access is limited to a narrated harbor tour in the vicinity of the memorial.

“Given that the details and timeline for the dock repair have changed numerous times over the past 10 months, and that the most recent announcement by NPS does not include a target date for the reopening of the dock, 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,” the Delegation wrote.

Immediately following its unexpected closure, surveys and assessments of the dock damage led officials to believe that the repair process would be minor. However, additional analysis and structural consultations illuminated the significance of repairs needed, leading inspectors and the NPS to anticipate reopening the Memorial in December 2018, in time for the December 7 anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. As that date drew closer, the NPS cited feasibility issues with its reopening plans, and pushed the reopening date back to March 2019. Now in March, the NPS has announced that the reopening of the dock has been pushed back yet again to an undetermined date.

In its letter to Acting Director Smith, the Hawaii Congressional Delegation requested monthly status updates on the project, including details on past work completed and future work anticipated. The Delegation also requested information on staffing and funds required to complete the dock repair and whether or not the necessary resources are currently in the NPS’s budget or if additional funding will be needed from the Congress.

The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which is home to the USS Arizona Memorial, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hawaii. In 2018, nearly 1.8 million tourists visited the Memorial. Included in this count are 2,000 living World War II survivors, who are in their nineties, and their families who travel to Hawaii to visit the memorial.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

The Honorable Dan Smith

Acting Director

National Park Service

Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20240

 

Dear Acting Director Smith:

In May 2018 the National Park Service (NPS) announced the unanticipated closure of the floating dock that allows access for visitors to board the USS Arizona Memorial. Initially after inspectors were able to conduct a thorough assessment of the damage to the dock, NPS officials estimated that the dock would be reopened by December 7th, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. As that date drew nearer, NPS officials then announced that it was no longer feasible for the reopening of the memorial to meet that deadline and instead that the dock would reopen in March 2019.

Now in March 2019, 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. The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which is home to the USS Arizona Memorial, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hawaii having welcomed nearly 1.8 million visitors in 2018 alone. Included in this count are the estimated 2,000 living World War II survivors who are in their nineties, and their families who travel to Hawaii to visit the memorial. The sense of urgency in reopening the memorial cannot be overstated.

Given that the details and timeline for the dock repair have changed numerous times over the past 10 months, and that the most recent announcement by NPS does not include a target date for the reopening of the dock, 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. We request that these updates include details on the current status of the project, what has been achieved to date with the project, and what has yet to be achieved, all with corresponding dates of completion or estimated completion. We would like also to receive information on affiliated resources, including staffing and expenses, both to date as well as anticipated, and whether the resources are currently in the agency budget or will need additional funding by the Congress.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 

Sincerely,

###