Frequently Asked Questions

An aerial view of the USS Arizona and the memorial.
 

Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial


Please be advised that boat transportation to the USS Arizona Memorial is temporarily suspended until further notice due to movement of the loading dock and corresponding movement of the loading ramp to the Memorial, which poses a safety concern for our visitors. The Memorial itself has not suffered any significant damage. This issue is completely unrelated to any previous event involving the loading dock and is an independent problem. We are working diligently to determine the extent of the problem and implement solutions that will allow visitor access to resume as quickly as possible. Additional updates will be provided to the media and posted to our website and Facebook page as new information becomes available.

Despite the restriction of visitor access to the Memorial, USS Arizona Memorial programs will continue as scheduled and TICKETS ARE STILL REQUIRED. Instead of taking a boat to the memorial and disembarking there, visitors will be taken on a 15-minute narrated harbor tour of Battleship Row and the area around the USS Arizona Memorial. In addition, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, museums, and bookstore are open as usual from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, seven days a week.

Our partner sites – the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor – are also open as usual.

What is the USS Arizona Memorial?

The Battleship USS Arizona was bombed on December 7, 1941, about 15 minutes into the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, killing 1,177 sailors and Marines. Over 900 could not be recovered from the ship and remain onboard. Today, Arizona rests where she fell, submerged in about 40 feet of water just off the coast of Ford Island.

Designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis, the USS Arizona Memorial was built in 1962 on top of (but not touching) the sunken USS Arizona. The memorial honors the memory of the crew of the USS Arizona, as well as all the other service members and civilians killed in the attack. A total of 2,341 sailors, soldiers, and Marines died as a result of the attack, as well as 49 civilians.

Where is the memorial and how do I get there?

The memorial is located on the southern end of the island of Oahu, Hawai'i, and can only be accessed by boat from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The visitor center is not located on a military base and is accessible to the public, with plenty of free parking. The visitor center address is 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, HI, 96818. For more detailed directions, see our direction page.

When is the visitor center open?

The visitor center is open seven days a week, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1.

How much does it cost to go to the memorial?

Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial is free, because it is an active American military cemetery. No National Park Pass is required, and no discounts are given, because there is no charge. Entrance to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and its museums is also free. However, visitors will need to get a free timed ticket to see the memorial.

Why do I need a ticket?

There are two boats that take visitors out to the USS Arizona Memorial. These boats are operated by US Navy sailors and have a limited capacity of 145 people per boat. That means that even though the program is free, only a certain number of people can go every day. Anyone who wishes to go to the memorial must secure a free program ticket.

What is the USS Arizona Memorial program?

The USS Arizona Memorial program is 75 minutes long and starts in the theater with a 23-minute documentary. This is followed by a boat ride to the memorial, time at the memorial, and a boat ride back. Programs begin every 15 minutes, starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending with the last program at 3:00 p.m. (with the exception of 12:15 and 12:30).

How do I get a ticket to the memorial?

You can come to the visitor center for walk-in tickets on the day of your visit, or you can reserve tickets on www.recreation.gov, which is the ONLY official site to reserve USS Arizona tickets. If you would prefer to reserve a visit through a tour company, please take a look at our list of authorized commercial transportation providers.

Can you tell me more about walk-in tickets?

Walk-in tickets are available at the visitor center ticket desk, which is directly ahead of you as you enter the visitor center. Over 1,300 free USS Arizona Memorial tickets are handed out daily on a first-come, first-served basis, starting when we open at 7:00 a.m.

  • You can choose the ticket time you want, based on availability.
  • Your entire party must be present to get walk-in tickets (you cannot have one person pick up tickets for your whole party).
  • Only same-day tickets will be handed out. For example, you cannot pick up walk-in tickets for January 20th on January 19th.

I heard it's difficult to get walk-in tickets, because they are gone early in the morning. Is this true?

This can be true during our busiest seasons, which include Christmas break, spring break, and summertime. At these times, tickets often run out early in the morning, and the lines are long (but still move fairly quickly). If you are planning a visit during these times, please make a reservation or arrive at the monument very early to ensure you get a ticket.

However, this is not the normal scenario. For most of the year, those 1,300 tickets are enough for walk-in visitors. On many days, we have free tickets left over at the end of the day. Still, because tickets are first come, first served, and we cannot predict which days will be extra busy (cruise ships coming in, etc.), we always recommend walk-ins come to the visit center early, if possible. We open at 7:00 AM.

Although the monument receives an average of 4,000-5,000 visitors per day, most are not walk-in. They are coming with prearranged reservations as part of a school group, tour group, military unit, or other group, or they have reserved individual tickets online.

Can you tell me more about reserving tickets?

Reserve tickets are separate from the 1,300 walk-in tickets handed out every day. Reserve ticket availability starts at 11:00 a.m. There are no early morning tickets available to reserve, as those tickets are kept for walk-in visitors. There is a reservation limit of 12 tickets per person per day.

There are two windows for making reservations:

  • The 60-day window: Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance. That means on April 10, a reservation can be made for as far in advance as June 9. Tickets can be reserved online at recreation.gov, or over the phone by calling 1-877-444-6777 (international: 518-885-3639). These tickets go quickly. Please log on as soon as possible to reserve.
  • The 24-hour window: If you've tried to reserve tickets but found none are available during your visit, log back onto recreation.gov on the day before your visit. Every day, recreation.gov releases a certain number of "next day" tickets, beginning at 7:00 a.m. HST. For example, if you want to visit on January 13, check for availability starting at 7:00 a.m. HST on January 12.

A non-refundable $1.50 convenience fee per reserved ticket will be charged. This is not a fee for the free USS Arizona Memorial program ticket; it is a convenience fee to make an online reservation.

Please arrive an hour before your ticket time to pick up your tickets, see the harbor area, and tour our two museums before your program. At a minimum, please be here five to ten minutes before your program to be sure you can enter the theater. If you are not here by your program time and we are out of walk-in tickets, your seats may be given away to visitors on standby.

Finally, if you make a reservation for a certain time but want to see if you can get earlier walk-in tickets, that is not a problem. Please let the front desk staff know you made reservations for a later time, so those tickets can go to someone else.

Can you tell me about the different tour options on recreation.gov?

There are four options for tours on www.recreation.gov.

  • Tour Option 1: This is for the free 75-minute program for the USS Arizona Memorial, beginning at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center theater on the day and time of your choosing. It includes a brief introduction, a 23-minute documentary film, and a Navy-operated shuttle boat ride to and from the USS Arizona Memorial.
  • Tour Option 2: This ticket includes the free USS Arizona Memorial program and the USS Arizona Memorial narrated tour, which is supplementary to the program but not required. Narrated by actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the audio tour provides narration throughout the visitor center, interpretive exhibit galleries, and waterfront interpretive displays, and features guest narration by Pearl Harbor Survivors and National Park Service Historian Daniel Martinez. Besides English, the audio tour is available in French, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, German, Spanish, Italian, and Russian, and will even automatically translate the 23-minute documentary film into each language. This option is $7.50 per person.
  • Tour Option 3: This is for the Passport to Pearl Harbor, and it's a great way to see all of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites with one ticket. This ticket includes the free USS Arizona Memorial program, the USS Arizona Memorial narrated tour, and admission to all three of our partner sites: the Battleship Missouri (located on Ford Island), the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum (located on Ford Island). The Passport is $72.00 for adults and $35.00 for children, which includes bus transporation from the visitor center to nearby Ford Island. Note: Passports cannot be purchased on recreation.gov if there are no corresponding USS Arizona Memorial tickets available. However, Passports can also be purchased at the visitor center (these do not include the USS Arizona Memorial program - you'd have to also get a free walk-in ticket for that). Admission for each of these sites can also be purchased individually at the visitor center. These tickets never run out.
  • Tour Option 4: This option includes the free USS Arizona Memorial program, the use of a smart phone that includes the USS Arizona Memorial narrated tour, and exclusive access, via your smart phone, to the National Park Service’s WWII archives and videos on the attack at Pearl Harbor at each of the narrated tour stops. This tour also includes admission to the Pearl Harbor Virtual Reality Center, where you will experience “Walk the Deck of the USS Arizona Before the Attack," “Witness the Attack on Battleship Row,” and “Experience the USS Arizona Memorial" via virtual reality technology. All equipment is provided, with VR staff available to assist you. This ticket is $12.50 per person.

What if I have a question about or problem with my reservation?

At the visitor center, we do not manage reservations made through www.recreation.gov. If you have questions, please contact the recreation.gov support team online or by phone at 1-888-448-1474.

What about other websites that offer reservations for Pearl Harbor, such as Groupon?

If you make a reservation for Pearl Harbor and/or the USS Arizona Memorial through any website other than recreation.gov, you are reserving through a tour company. Tour companies operate independently of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the National Park Service. For problems with tour packages, please refer back to the company from whom you purchased your tour. The National Park Service has no access to your tour information and cannot give refunds, change ticket times, or cancel reservations.

Note: Tour companies offer package deals that may or may not include a free ticket to the USS Arizona Memorial program. For example, if the "USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour" is included with your tour package, this may only be for the narrated tour and may not include the free boat ride out to the memorial. Please read carefully to see what is included. The narrated tour offers more in-depth information at points throughout the museums, memorial, and grounds, but you must also have a free program ticket if you wish to visit the memorial.

How do I make reservations for a school or military unit?

To plan a school field trip, please see our Field Trip FAQ page. Please email valr_commercial_services@nps.gov for instructions on making a reservation for military units.

What if I arrive without reservations and tickets are gone?

During busy seasons (Christmas break, spring break, and summertime), this can happen to guests who arrive later in the day.

  • You may not be able to get on a boat to see the memorial. Seats on the boats are limited; only a certain number of people can be accommodated per day. Occasionally visitors can get in on standby, if seats open up. Please check with the staff at the ticket desk to see if stand-by seating will be an option for you.
  • You are welcome to see the exhibits along the harbor, as well as visit our two museums free of charge. The USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour is available for $7.50 per headset and offers a great deal of information to help you understand what took place on Dec. 7, 1941.
  • You are welcome to visit the other Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, including the Battleship Missouri, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. Their ticket desk is located next to the National Park Service counter at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

What else do I need to know about my free ticket?

Your free ticket does not include the USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour or access to any other Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. You can purchase these at the visitor center at any time, as they never sell out and are always available.

What is the USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour?

The National Park Service's USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour is not required for the USS Arizona Memorial program, but offers more in-depth information about the attack, as well as oral histories from Pearl Harbor Survivors. This self-guided narrated tour covers the "Path of Attack" Tour along the shoreline, in our two museums, and at the memorial. The narrated tour is available in English, Italian, Russian, French, German, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese (Mandarin) and can be purchased for $7.50 per headset.

It takes about two and a half hours to complete both the narrated tour and the memorial visit.

I've heard that sometimes the boats to the memorial are cancelled. Why does this happen?

The National Park Service works with the US Navy to conduct programs to the memorial. For inclement weather, such as lightening or wind speeds reaching 25 mph, the navy may suspend or cancel the boats, or take visitors "by" the memorial but not disembark. These decisions are made for safety reasons by the navy, not the park service.

The boats have been cancelled. Can I get a refund?

The NPS does not issue refunds for USS Arizona Memorial tickets, because tickets are free. For tickets reserved through recreation.gov, there is a non-refundable convenience fee of $1.50 per ticket to make the reservation. Visitors who purchase the USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour have the option of being reimbursed for the cost of each headset. Please call recreation.gov support, let them know your ticket day and time, and request a refund. For purchases of the Passport to Pearl Harbor, refunds are not authorized, because the Passport pays for access to all our partner sites, which will remain open even if the boats to the USS Arizona Memorial are shut down. The USS Arizona Memorial ticket that comes with the Passport is free.

Even if boats are cancelled, the visitor center will remain open. Visitors with tickets can still access our museums and view the 23-minute documentary in the theater.

If my program is cancelled, can I use my ticket on another day?

No. You will need to secure a ticket for another day. Please go online to reserve tickets through www.recreation.gov, or get new walk-in tickets by coming to the monument on another day. Only same-day tickets will be issued.

Are children allowed to go to the memorial, and if so do they need a ticket?

Yes. There is no age limit for the memorial. Children do not need a ticket if they are small enough to sit on the lap of their guardian during the film and while on the boats to and from the USS Arizona Memorial. If they will be in their own seat, they need a ticket. Strollers must be left by the theater entrance and cannot be brought to the memorial.

Speaking of children, do you have anything fun for kids to do at the memorial?

Yes! Our Jr. Ranger Scavenger Hunt booklet, available for $3 in the visitor center gift shop, takes kids on an adventure through the museums and visitor center grounds. They'll find the answers to questions about the attack on Pearl Harbor, learn about the USS Arizona's bell (and see it up close!), find out what the "Tree of Life" is, and read about some of the people living on Oahu at the time of the attack. They'll also learn a little bit about Hawaii's history and traditions. Once they've completed their booklet, all they'll need to do is find a National Park Service ranger to "swear" them in as Jr. Rangers! Each booklet comes with a Jr. Ranger badge, to be pinned upon completion of their booklet.

Are there restrooms at the memorial?

There are no public restrooms on the USS Arizona Memorial. Please be sure to use the visitor center restrooms before your trip to the memorial!

Are wheelchairs available?

No, we do not have wheelchairs available, except for emergencies. However, the museums, theaters, pathways, boats, and memorial are all accessible. Walking the distance between facilities can be challenging for visitors with mobility issues, but there are many benches throughout the visitor center for rest opportunities.

How about food and drink?

No food or drinks are allowed in the theater or the memorial, except clear water. Food and drink is allowed in the rest of the visitor center. There is a small snack shop with sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. The USS Bowfin Submarine and Museum has a concession area with hotdogs, nachos and soup. On Ford Island, the Battleship Missouri has a lunch wagon, and the Pacific Aviation Museum has a sit-down cafe. There are many restaurants a short drive from the visitor center.

 

The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center


What can I do at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center?

There are four main sites at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

There are many things to see throughout the visitor center grounds, to include a bell from the USS Arizona, one of the USS Arizona's anchors, the Contemplation Circle, the Remembrance Circle, and two small museums that are operated by the National Park Service. All of these are free and open to the public from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. No tickets are required.

The ticket booth for our partner sites is located next to the USS Arizona Memorial ticket booth. You will need to pay for admission to these partner sites. The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park is located adjacent to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The Battleship Missouri and Pacific Aviation Museum are located on Ford Island, which is a short shuttle ride from the visitor center. The cost of the shuttle is included with your ticket.

What is WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument?

WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument oversees operations at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and maintains and operates the USS Arizona Memorial, as well as the USS Utah and USS Oklahoma Memorials on nearby Ford Island. The monument, part of the National Park Service, oversees other areas related to the Pacific War, such as the Honouliuli National Monument.

How can I see the USS Oklahoma and USS Utah Memorials?

You can visit the USS Oklahoma Memorial on Ford Island by purchasing a $3 shuttle ticket at the Battleship Missouri ticket desk. If you purchase a ticket to the Battleship Missouri, you can also see the USS Oklahoma Memorial that way, as it is located nearby. Unfortunately, at this time, the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island is only open to visitors with a military ID card.

Where is the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center located and how do I get there?

If you have a rental car and will use a GPS, do a search for Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, at 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, HI, 96818. For detailed directions, see our direction page. If you are flying into Oahu just for the day, the airport is only about ten minutes from the visitor center. Options for getting to the visitor center include taxis, Lyft, Uber, and the bus.

Is visitor parking available?

Yes, free parking is available, including plenty of accessible parking. Please be sure your vehicles are locked and secured. Federal law enforcement officers and security bike patrols monitor the parking lots, but the National Park Service cannot be held responsible for any items that may be stolen from your vehicle.

Can I bring bags onsite?

No. You are welcome to bring cameras, water bottles, wallets, and other items, but bags are not allowed on site for security reasons. Exceptions to this include bags for medical necessities and clear see-through bags. There is a baggage storage building located to the right of the visitor center entrance. There is a fee of $5 per bag, no matter the size of the bag. Luggage is also allowed.

Is there a Lost and Found at the visitor center?

Yes, we have a box at the ticket desk for any items found throughout the park. If you believe you have forgotten something, please do not call the visitor center asking us to look for your item. Please come to the park and check with the staff at the ticket desk and/or retrace your steps to see if you can locate your item.

Is there one ticket for everything at the visitor center?

Yes. You can go to recreation.gov and purchase a Passport to Pearl Harbor. This full-day, discounted package includes a free ticket to the USS Arizona Memorial program for the day and time of your choosing, as well as the USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour. It also pays for admission to the USS Missouri Battleship (located on Ford Island), the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (located on Ford Island), and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park. Included in the cost of your Passport ticket is bus transportation from the visitor center to the USS Missouri Battleship and the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, both located about ten minutes away on nearby Ford Island.

If you purchase a Passport and want to see all the sites, please arrive early and be here for the whole day. It takes 8-10 hours to see everything and also allow for food and bathroom breaks. The Passport can be extended for a second day within a consecutive seven-day period. To extend the Passport, ask at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites ticket counter, located in the courtyard of the visitor center. There is a $10 fee per adult ticket ($5 per child ticket) for this service.

What if I make reservations through another website?

As mentioned above, the official reservation website for the boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial is www.recreation.gov, and these are the only reservations we can access. Any other reservations will not be in our system. If you use any other website to reserve a tour, please check with that tour company if you have questions or concerns about your reservation. Keep in mind that some tour companies offer packages that include a USS Arizona Memorial program ticket, but others do not. If you want to visit the memorial, please be sure your reservation includes the memorial ticket.

Can I use the Go Oahu card at the visitor center?

The Go Oahu card cannot be used for the USS Arizona Memorial program, since tickets are already free and available on a first-come, first served basis. You will still need to get a walk-in ticket, or make reservations at www.recreation.gov. The Go Oahu card does cover the cost of the USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour. It also covers admission to the USS Missouri Battleship (located on Ford Island), the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (located on Ford Island), and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park

Please keep in mind that taking advantage of everything available to you with the Go Oahu card will take at least one full day, so arriving early is best.

Can I use or purchase a Senior National Park Pass here?

The USS Arizona Memorial program is free, so there is no need for a pass here at the monument. We also do not sell the passes. However, you can find them online.

I'm in the military and want to do my reenlistment ceremony at the visitor center. How can I do this?

Please email valr_commercial_services@nps.gov to schedule your reenlistment ceremony at the visitor center.

Where can I order products from the bookstore?

Our partner, Pacific Historic Parks, operates the on-site bookstore. For information on purchasing items from the bookstore, please call 1-888-485-1941.

How can I have a flag flown over the Arizona?

To purchase a flag to be flown over the USS Arizona, please go here.

I have a question that wasn't covered here. Help!

Please give the National Park Service a call at 808-422-3399 or email us at valr_info@nps.gov.

Our partner, Pacific Historic Parks, also has an informative website of the tours, packages, and merchandise available at Pearl Harbor. Please visit their website or call 808-781-3302 for their Pearl Harbor concierge service.

 

The Pearl Harbor Attack

Is it true that oil still leaks from the USS Arizona?

Yes. Currently, the ship leaks 2-9 quarts each day.

The USS Arizona held approximately 1.5 million gallons (5.7 million liters) of “Bunker-C” oil. The ship burned for 2½ days, leaving an unspecified amount of oil on board. Oil has been observed leaking from the ship since the 1940's; however, little action was taken until environmental concerns were expressed.

Since 1998, the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center (SRC) and the USS Arizona Memorial have been conducting research directed at understanding the nature and rate of natural processes affecting the deterioration of the USS Arizona, as well as monitoring hull conditions and oil release rates. Oil release observed during the 1980's Arizona documentation project originated from a hatch on the starboard (right) side of barbette number three, and later from a hatch on the starboard side of barbette number four. Consequently, when oil release monitoring began in 1998, those hatches were a primary focus.

During fieldwork from 1998 to the present, gradually increasing amounts of oil have been observed releasing from forward of the memorial; however, comprehensive measurement of oil release forward of the memorial in the upper deck galley was not completed until June 2006. Measured release rates have gradually increased each year in direct proportion to the number of locations monitored: in 1998, 1.0 quart (0.95 liters) was measured from one location; in 2003, 2.1 quarts (2.0 liters) were measured from two locations; in 2004, 2.3 quarts (2.2 liters) were measured from two locations; in 2006, 9.5 quarts (9.0 liters) were measured from eight locations. The 2006 oil release measurements are the most comprehensive completed to date – increase in oil release over previous years is in part explained by more release locations being successfully measured then previously.

Although observed rates of oil coming to the surface has gradually increased over the past several years, there is no indication of an increase in the amount of oil released from the primary oil containment spaces in the ship’s lower decks. The increase in oil release rates vary considerably with differing wind, tide, and harbor conditions. Although the exact amount cannot be determined, the USS Arizona contains an estimated 500,000 gallons (liters) of Bunker-C fuel within its hull.

What happened to the man who said, "Don't worry about it..." when informed by radar technicians about a large number of planes heading toward Oahu?

Lieutenant Kermit Tyler was an Army Air Forces pilot who was temporarily detailed to the Fort Shafter Information Office as Pursuit Officer. December 7 was his second day on the job, and he had no idea what his duties were supposed to be. After voicing his concerns over his lack of experience (and no understanding of radar or how to interpret it), he was told to report to duty at 4 a.m.

Driving to work at 3:00 a.m., Lt. Tyler remembered a friend telling him a Honolulu radio station would broadcast all night when Army Air Force B-17 heavy bombers were flying in from the mainland to Hickam Field. This practice allowed pilots to return home to O'ahu and remain on course (unfortunately, the attacking Japanese planes did the same thing!) He turned on his car radio and found music playing so he knew a flight of American planes was still en route.

Arriving for duty, Lieutenant Tyler discovered air plotters and administrative switchboard operators were already on duty. However, because it was Sunday, there were no other officers on duty, leaving only a small staff to complete the necessary shift work. At 7:00 a.m., the air plotters completed their respective shifts and made a hasty departure, leaving only Lt. Tyler and the switchboard operator.

Ironically, only 15 minutes later, the brand new radar station at ‘Opana Point picked up a large flight of incoming planes from a north-to-northeast direction. Passing the information to Tyler, the young radar operators were told “don’t worry about it,” because Tyler was expecting the incoming flight of B-17's. He could not tell them this over the phone due to security concerns (the Japanese had a large spy network in the islands).

This scenario proved to be a fatal mistake as 40 minutes later, bombs were raining down on Pearl Harbor and six other military installations on O'ahu. Following an investigation by a Navy Court of Inquiry in August 1942, it was determined that Tyler had been assigned to the Information Center with little or no training, no supervision, and no staff with which to work. Tyler was subsequently cleared of any wrong doing by the board and no disciplinary actions were taken against him. Hollywood and a few authors have attempted to make Tyler out as a buffoon, but the military knew him to be an exceptional officer, and he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1961.

Why were the crewmembers' bodies never removed from the USS Arizona?

Approximately 15 minutes into the attack, a Japanese high-level bomber dropped a 1,760-pound (800 kg) naval projectile, that had been specially converted, onto the USS Arizona. The bomb penetrated the forward deck of the ship about 40 feet in from the bow. The resulting explosion ignited aviation fuel stores and the powder magazines for the 14-inch guns, instantly separating most of the bow from the ship and lifting the 33,000-ton vessel out of the water. To dispel a popular myth, there is no physical evidence remotely suggesting the USS Arizona was hit by torpedoes.

The explosion and subsequent fires killed 1,177 sailors and marines instantly. In addition, the entire front portion of the ship was left destroyed and the fires burned everything in its path. The fires continued for 2½ days, virtually cremating every man on board. Out of a crew of 1,511, only 334 survived.

Due to the immense fire, only 107 crewmen were positively identified. The remaining 1,070 casualties were placed into three categories:

(1) Bodies that were never found;

(2) Bodies removed from the ship during salvage operations. These remains were severely dismembered or partially cremated, making identification impossible (DNA testing was unheard of in 1941). These bodies were placed in temporary mass graves, and later moved and reburied and marked as unknowns, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in 1949;

(3) Bodies located in the aft (rear) portion of the ship. These remains could have been recovered, but were left in the ship due to their unidentifiable condition, indicating most crew members died from the concussion from the massive explosion.

What happened to the surviving crewmembers immediately after the explosion? How did they feel about surviving when so many were lost?

Most of the sailors and Marines who survived the sinking were already on duty when the bomb hit at 8:06 a.m. Men assigned to areas in the aft (rear) of the ship were immediately hurled from the upper decks of the battleship into the burning, oil-coated waters of the harbor. Some staggered through blankets of thick smoke and fire to the main deck and then jumped overboard.

Also, just over 40 men assigned to the ship were not aboard the ship when it was attacked. In total, 319 sailors and 15 Marines (on or off the ship) were officially USS Arizona survivors. An anxiety haunted many of these survivors for years. “Why did I survive when so many others did not?" is a question that plagued many. Family members of these men say that the biggest problem most of these men endured the rest of their lives was the tremendous guilt for surviving the destruction of their ship.

How are the bodies of USS Arizona survivors buried on the ship?

Crewmembers who were assigned to the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941, have the right to have their cremated remains interred inside the barbette of gun turret four by National Park Service divers. If you were a crewmember before that infamous day, you have the right to have your ashes scattered over the ship. In both cases, the common thread is that these men were at one time in their navy careers assigned to the USS Arizona. This policy is strictly enforced by the USS Arizona Reunion and Survivor Association. In addition, any Pearl Harbor survivor can have their ashes scattered over the place in the harbor where their ship was located during the attack.

On April 12, 1982, the ashes of retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Stanley M. Teslow were interred, making him the first USS Arizona survivor to return to his ship. As of February 1, 2016, there have been 39 crew members interred into the hull of the USS Arizona. That list consists of 37 Navy sailors and 2 Marines who have chosen to rejoin their fallen shipmates through a solemn ceremony of interment, complete with a two-bell ceremony from the Fleet Reserve Association; a rifle salute from the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps; and a benediction with the echo of Taps being played across the harbor. The services are conducted inside the memorial and consist of an invocation, funeral ceremony, and a flag presentation to the family. Each interment ceremony is hosted by both the National Park Service and the United States Navy.

Following the ceremony, the urn is carried from the memorial to the dock area and presented to divers, who swim the urn into the open barbette of gun turret number four and proceed to a large open “slot” that measures approximately 6" x 5'. The urn is placed into this slot and slides into the ship.

Why was the USS Arizona not raised and put back into service as the other battleships were?

The USS Arizona was inspected in early 1942 and the US Navy determined it to be a total loss. Severe structural damage throughout the ship prevented it from being completely salvaged, although the USS Arizona continued to live in other ships as she became a prime source for spare parts.

The inspection discovered that access to the front portion of the ship was completely blocked by debris and the great sheets of metal grotesquely twisted presented a very unsafe environment from which to work. The second deck had collapsed and virtually melted into the lower decks. It was also discovered that the number one and two gun turrets had collapsed more than 20 feet, leaving little doubt as to the severity of the USS Arizona’s wounds.

Now at war, the U.S. Navy could spare little time with ships which could not be salvaged and turned their attention to the other battleships which could be put back into service. The USS Pennsylvania, USS Nevada, USS West Virginia, USS Tennessee, USS Maryland, and the USS California were raised and re-fitted in time to take revenge against the Japanese. The USS Arizona, The USS Oklahoma, and the old battleship USS Utah were never put back into service.

Dismantling of the USS Arizona began in 1942 and continued throughout 1943. In June of 1942, the navy decided the lost ship’s hulk was not a hazard to navigation in the harbor and the ship would remain where she fell. Later in the war, the decision was made to leave the crewmembers with their ship, considering the men to be buried at sea. By the end of 1943, most of the ship visible from above the waterline had been removed. Among the useable items taken from the ship were guns, ammunition, machinery, the stern aircraft crane, conning tower and numerous other entities. The U.S. Army removed gun turrets three and four for use as coastal defense batteries (although by the time this project was finished in 1944, the war had moved into the western Pacific and Hawai'i was no longer at threat from invasion). The number two gun turret was scrapped, but the one gun turret remains intact and on the ship. In 1961, the (overhead) ceiling from the forward mess deck was removed, making way for the construction of the USS Arizona Memorial.

What happened to the battleships Oklahoma and Utah?

There were over 180 ships and vessels in Pearl Harbor when the attack began. Twelve of these ships were sunk or severely damaged, with another nine also needing extensive repairs. However, all but three returned to service.

Similar to the USS Arizona, the USS Utah lays where she fell on the north side of Ford Island. This decision was made in 1944 after several attempts at raising the ship had failed. The quiet decision was made to leave the bodies of 58 crewmen onboard, considering them buried at sea. The land-based USS Utah Memorial was dedicated on May 27, 1972. Visitors with military identification in their possession may visit the memorial.

The USS Oklahoma was moored outboard the battleship USS Maryland and rapidly received seven to nine torpedo hits on the port (left) side. Capsizing roughly in 20 minutes after the attack began, over 400 men were trapped inside, of which only 32 were rescued by frantic civilian shipyard crews trying to cut through the keel (bottom) of the ship with pneumatic hammers and torches. Resting in the main channel of the harbor, a major salvage operation began in March of 1943. This massive undertaking involved the use of winches installed on Ford Island, which slowly rolled the ship back into place in an upright position. The ship was then pumped out and the remains of over 400 sailors and Marines were removed.

The USS Oklahoma entered drydock on December 28, 1943, and the guns and superstructure were removed following the battleship’s formal decommissioning in September of 1944. Two years later, a California salvage company bought the ship for scrap and began towing the USS Oklahoma to Oakland in the spring of 1947. On May 17, the ship began listing to port and the tow lines had to be cut. The USS Oklahoma sank approximately 540 miles northeast of the Hawaiian Islands. The spirits of 429 lost souls may have silently cheered when this tribute to the loss of the Oklahoma was written:

“Good for you Oklahoma!
Go down at sea in deep water,
as you should, under the stars.
No razor blades for you! They
can make ‘em from the ships and
Planes that did you in.
So long, Oklahoma!
You were a good ship!”

— a Battleship Sailor

More information:

"USS" stands for United States Ship. "BB" is not an abbreviation, it is how the Navy classified a battleship.

The USS Arizona rests in about 40 feet (12.2 meters) of water.

There were 37 confirmed sets of brothers assigned to the USS Arizona on December 7. Sullivan was the last name of five brothers who died when their ship, the USS Juneau, sank off Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942.

The USS Arizona was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in December of 1942. On March 7, 1950, the Arizona was symbolically "re-commissioned" when a flagpole was erected on the ship. The USS Arizona is treated as one of the current fleet, and the flag flying on the ship's mast only flies at half-staff when the other ships fly their flags at half-staff.

On March 25, 1961, Elvis Presley performed a concert at Bloch Arena in Pearl Harbor. All ticket proceeds benefited the construction of the USS Arizona Memorial. The concert generated $54,678.73 – more than ten percent of the $515,728.37 needed to construct the monument. A commemorative plaque that honors the concert is located at the Bloch Arena complex on base.

The USS Arizona Memorial became a National Park Service unit in 1980. Since then, NPS divers have conducted approximately 50 research and cultural preservation dives per year.

Contrary to popular belief, the Japanese planes did not fly through Kolekole Pass. The Japanese pilots flew along the inside of the mountain range, making it appear as though they came through the pass.

Hawaii became the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959.

The brown, weasel-like animal that you see is a mongoose. The friendly little bird that everyone feeds (but should not) is a zebra dove.

The Hawaiian name for Pearl Harbor was Pu’uloa. Early Poynesian settlers to O’ahu discovered a bay teeming with food. Included was a bivalve called i’a hamau leo. Besides providing food, the oyster’s iridescent shell was used to decorate bowls and carvings; to make fish hooks; and used as a ropemaking scraper. The oyster also produced a white pearl, which the Hawaiians called momi. Since these pearls were never found in archeological digs or referenced in traditional chants, it is assumed that they held little value to the Hawaiians. That all changed following the arrival of the Europeans and the Americans. Once King Kamehameha I learned that the outsiders found value in the pearls, an intensive shift from oyster food and shell gathering to pearl gathering began, and by 1812, the Hawaiian pearl trade was thriving. By the 1840s deforestation and overgrazing of livestock around the harbor caused severe environmental damage, with rains washing tons of silt and debris into the streams that flowed into Pearl Harbor (a name given to the bay by the foreigners). Soon the harbor was choked with dirt. By 1901, Pearl Harbor’s oysters were nearly extinct, smothered by mud.

As of October 2016, there are five surviving crew members left from the battleship USS Arizona, lost at 8:06 a.m. on December 7, 1941.

Last updated: July 11, 2018

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WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument
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