That makes it impossible for officials to use the hallowed memorial to host this year’s annual commemoration of the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks on Pearl Harbor that launched the United States into World War II.
Dedicated on May 30, 1962, the memorial straddles the hull of the battleship Arizona. It’s one of Hawaii’s most popular tourist attractions.
The ship’s hull is considered a national shrine because it’s the final resting place for 1,177 of the ship’s crew of 1,512 who were aboard the warship when Japanese aircraft attacked it.
Their deaths account for roughly half of the sailors lost during the raid.
“Not being able to welcome survivors and their families on the USS Arizona Memorial this coming December 7th is heartbreaking,” said Jacqueline Ashwell, whose World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument oversees the Arizona memorial, in the statement.
“After exploring multiple options, we are working with our friends in the U.S. Navy to hold an intimate ceremony aboard a vessel adjacent to the USS Arizona.”
That private commemoration will allow survivors, their families, and other key dignitaries to pay their respects to the fallen. There also will be a public ceremony on land at the nearby Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
Federal officials halted public access to the memorial in May, when workers first noticed damage to the visitor ramp to the Arizona. They later determined that the damage was caused by a failing anchoring system for the boat dock, which put extreme pressure on the loading bridge and triggered the cracks.
The release said that designs for the repairs are completed and officials are developing a timeline for the work.
“We are committed to restoring access to the memorial as soon as possible for all visitors, and it will remain a top priority," Ashwell said in the release. "We have condensed this project to the shortest amount of time necessary while also implementing solutions that will ensure a similar problem does not occur again.”
It’s not the first time that damage has closed the memorial. In 2015, visitation to the memorial was temporarily suspended after the Navy’s hospital ship Mercy collided with the dock.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.