Thousands of people who tried to visit the USS Arizona Memorial Monday were unexpectedly turned away due to a problem with the loading dock.
Workers found the dock submerged in water right after the ticket office opened Monday morning, before the tours had begun.
“Basically the U.S. Navy was not allowing us to go on board to visit the Arizona Memorial,” said visitor Martin Rohrke. “We came clear across the Pacific Ocean to see it. That’s why it was a disappointment.”
On Monday, officials cancelled tours to Hawaii’s top visitor destination, because the dock that’s used to help take visitors to the site was two feet lower than normal.
“There are two floats here that comprise our dock. They each have three chambers inside that are usually empty of water, but over time, water does come in and one of the floats has a chamber that was fill to the brim,” explained National Parks Service Superintendent Paul DePrey.
Workers pumped out the water that was in the chamber, but still couldn’t determine why it happened.
The dock was built four years ago as part of the new visitors’ center. It’s the first time something like this has happened.
Officials won’t reopen the dock or allow tours until experts determine it’s safe to do so.
“It’s a real, real shame that we couldn’t go to see the Arizona,” said visitor David Benge.
Several visitors KHON2 spoke with said they would not be able to return for a second visit.
“What do you say to the visitors who traveled so far and didn’t get to see this?” KHON2 asked.
“This is an issue that we often deal with at the site, whether it’s high winds and the boats can’t operate safely or a circumstance like this. It really breaks our heart,” DePrey said.
DePrey said tours will resume Tuesday and workers will continue to use part of the dock, which is what they normally do. They only use the entire dock on extremely busy days.
Workers will check on the chamber and dock a few times a day to make sure it doesn’t fill up with water again. They will also turn to experts to figure out what to do next.