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USS Arizona Memorial reopens after 15-month repair

Popular tourist site was closed after cracks were found in May 2018

HONOLULU (AP) — The USS Arizona Memorial welcomed large numbers of visitors to its reopening after 15 months of repairs, officials said.

The memorial received thousands of sightseers Sunday for the first time since its closure by the National Park Service after its dock was partially submerged and cracks were found in May 2018, Hawaii News Now reported.

“We had to rebuild the system from scratch and do it safely so people can now access it,” said Steve Mietz, acting superintendent for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

Exceptionally high tides in 2017 are believed to have dislodged concrete blocks sunk into Pearl Harbor’s sediment and connected by chains to the dock. The repair project cost more than $2.1 million.

Visitor traffic to the national park decreased by about 30 percent after the memorial’s closure. U.S. Rep. Ed Case worked with Hawaii’s congressional delegation to speed the project, he said.

“Having listened more closely to the technical challenges, I understand they needed the time to do this right and I think they did do it right,” Case said.

Bob and Patty Drake of Minneapolis waited nearly two hours to be on the first boat to the monument in the harbor.

“This is a bucket-list thing,” Bob Drake said. “It’s sad, it’s impressive; it makes you proud.”

Anna and Gabriel Urena of Providence, R.I., said they were overcome by the experience.

“I had tears running from my face,” Anna Urena said. “I couldn’t help it. It’s very sad.”

There were 1,177 lives lost on the USS Arizona in the Japanese surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.