Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial
Temporary Closure of the USS Arizona Memorial
Please be advised that the USS Arizona Memorial will not be accessible until the fall of 2019 as repairs are made to the memorial's visitor loading dock. In the interim, visitors with free USS Arizona Memorial program tickets will continue to see a 25-minute documentary film followed by a narrated harbor tour of Battleship Row on U.S. Navy vessels, which pass as close as possible to the USS Arizona Memorial. Visitors are also welcome to tour our two free museums, shore side exhibits, snack shop and bookstore, and all of our partner sites remain open and available. Updates on the repairs will be provided as they become available.
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 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. It 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. An ID is not required for entrance. 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, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is closed Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1.
How much does it cost to go to the memorial?
- FREE to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, including the movie and boat ride. However, visitors need a free timed ticket.
- FREE entrance to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and museums.
- The National Park Pass is not necessary here, and no discounts are given, because there is no charge.
Why do I need a ticket?
There are two boats that take visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial. These boats are operated by US Navy sailors and have a capacity of 145 people per boat. Due to limited seating, anyone wanting to go to the memorial must secure a free ticket.
What is the USS Arizona Memorial program?
The USS Arizona Memorial program is 75 minutes long. It starts in the theater with a 25-minute documentary and is followed by a boat ride to the memorial, time at the memorial, and a boat ride back. Programs begin every 15 minutes from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Due to the closure of the memorial, visitors still watch the 25-minute documentary and then board the boat for a ride to the memorial, but instead of disembarking there, they are taken on a narrated harbor tour very near to the memorial. This altered tour takes about one hour. The same free USS Arizona Memorial program tickets are required.
How do I get walk-in tickets?
Walk-in tickets are available at the ticket desk, directly ahead of you as you enter the visitor center. Over 1,300 free 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 given. 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 go quickly. Is this true?
For most of the year, 1,300 tickets are enough for walk-in visitors, with tickets left over at the end of the day. However, Christmas break, spring break, and summertime can be very busy. Tickets often run out early in the morning, and lines are long (but move quickly). If you plan to visit during these times, please make a reservation or arrive at the monument very early.
Can you tell me more about reserving tickets?
Reservations are not necessary, but they are recommended. Reserved tickets are separate from the 1,300 walk-in tickets handed out every day. Reserved 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, starting at 7:00 AM HST. That means on April 10th starting at 7:00 AM HST, a reservation can be made for as far in advance as June 9th. Tickets can be reserved at www.recreation.gov. Please log on as soon as possible to reserve, because these tickets go quickly. If you are within the 60-day window but the day you choose says tickets are "not yet released," that means all 60-day window tickets are gone. The "not yet released" tickets will be released within the 24-hour window.
- The 24-hour window: If you've tried to reserve tickets but found none are available during your visit, log onto recreation.gov on the day before your visit. Every day, www.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. If you are looking for tickets within the 60-day window and it says tickets are "not yet released," that means all 60-day window tickets are gone. The remaining tickets will be released in this 24-hour window.
A non-refundable $1.00 convenience fee per reserved ticket will be charged. Tickets can be picked up at the visitor center ticket desk. Anyone in your group can pick up the tickets, as long as they provide the last name used to make the reservation. No ID is necessary.
Please arrive an hour before your program so you have time to park and get your tickets, as well as see our two museums. At a minimum, please arrive 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.
Can you tell me about the different tour options on recreation.gov?
There are four options for tours on www.recreation.gov:
- USS Arizona Memorial: 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 25-minute documentary film, and a Navy-operated shuttle boat ride to and from the USS Arizona Memorial. There is a convenience fee of $1.00 charged per ticket. Due to the closure of the memorial, visitors are currently being taken on a 15-minute narrated harbor tour of Battleship Row, very near to the USS Arizona Memorial, rather than disembarking there.
- USS Arizona Memorial and Narrated Headset: 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. This option is $7.50 per person, plus the $1.00 convenience fee per ticket.
- USS Arizona Memorial and Passport Package: The Passport to Pearl Harbor is a great way to see all the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites with one ticket. It includes the free USS Arizona Memorial program, the USS Arizona Memorial narrated tour, and admission to our partner sites: the USS Missouri Battleship (on Ford Island), the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum (on Ford Island). The Passport is $72.00 for adults and $35.00 for children, plus a $1.00 convenience fee per ticket. Bus transporation from the visitor center to nearby Ford Island is included. Passports can be extended for $10 per ticket; please ask at the ticket desk. Passports cannot be purchased on www.recreation.gov if there are no corresponding USS Arizona Memorial tickets available.
- USS Arizona Memorial Deluxe Tour: This option includes the free USS Arizona Memorial program, the use of a smart phone that includes the USS Arizona Memorial narrated tour and access to the National Park Service’s archives and videos on the attack at Pearl Harbor at each narrated tour stop. This tour 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. Equipment is provided, with VR staff available to assist you. This ticket is $12.50 per person, plus a $1.00 convenience fee.
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.
What about other websites that offer reservations for Pearl Harbor, such as Groupon?
If you make reservations for Pearl Harbor and/or the USS Arizona Memorial through a website other than www.recreation.gov, you are reserving through a tour company. Tour companies operate independently of the 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.
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 to the memorial. Please read carefully to see what is included. Please be sure the tour company you choose is one of our authorized transportation providers.
How do I make reservations for a school or military unit?
To plan a school field trip, please see our education page. Please email us to make a reservation for a military unit.
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. 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. It 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 www.recreation.gov, there is a non-refundable convenience fee of $1.00 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 www.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 access our museums and view the 23-minute documentary in the theater.
If my USS Arizona Memorial 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.
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 public restrooms throughout the visitor center, but 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 Pearl Harbor 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 the Pearl Harbor 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 the Pearl Harbor National Memorial?
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is comprised of the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma and USS Utah Memorials, in addition to six officer bungalows, three mooring quays, and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The memorial commemorates the events surrounding the December 7, 1941 attack and honors the thousands of Americans who served and died on that day.
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.
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 Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum (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 Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, both located about ten minutes away on nearby Ford Island.
Passports can also be purchased at the visitor center on the day of your visit, but these Passports do not include a USS Arizona Memorial program ticket. Walk-in tickets would have to be secured for that separately.
If you purchase a Passport and want to see all the sites, please arrive early. 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 only 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. If you make reservations, please remember only to reserve for the free USS Arizona Memorial program. This is because the Go Oahu card DOES cover admission for everything else at the visitor center, including the USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour, and admission to the USS Missouri Battleship, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park. Reservations are not necessary for these.
Taking advantage of everything available to you with the Go Oahu card will take at least one full day, so if you wish to see everything, please arrive early.
Can I use or purchase a National Park Pass here?
Entrance to the visitor center and tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial program are already free, so there is no need for a pass here at the memorial. 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 us 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 USS Arizona?
You can purchase a flag to be flown over the USS Arizona. You can also bring a flag to the visitor center and speak to a ranger about coordinating a flag to be flown over the USS Arizona. The USS Arizona Memorial will be closed until the fall of 2019. There will be no flags flown over the memorial until it has reopened.
I have a question that wasn't covered here.
Please give the National Park Service a call at 808-422-3399 or email email@example.com. Our partner, Pacific Historic Parks, also has an informative website of the tours, packages, and merchandise available at Pearl Harbor.
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:
- Bodies that were never found;
- 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;
- 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
- "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 April 2019, there are five surviving crew members left from the battleship USS Arizona, lost at 8:06 a.m. on December 7, 1941.