Pearl Harbour, Oahu
On December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona, while moored here in Pearl Harbor, was bombed in a Japanese air raid. The 608-foot battleship sank in 9 minutes without firing a shot, taking 1,177 sailors and Marines to their deaths--and catapulting the United States into World War II.
Nobody who visits the memorial will ever forget it. The deck of the ship lies 6 feet below the surface of the sea. Oil still oozes slowly up from the Arizona's engine room to stain the harbor's calm, blue water; some say the ship still weeps for its lost crew. The memorial is a stark white 184-foot rectangle that spans the sunken hull of the ship; it was designed by Alfred Pries, a German architect interned on Sand Island during the war. It contains the ship's bell, recovered from the wreckage, and a shrine room with the names of the dead carved in stone.
Today, free U.S. Navy launches take visitors to the Arizona. Try to arrive early at the visitor center (no later than 1:30pm), operated jointly by the National Park Service and the U.S. Navy, to avoid the huge crowds; waits of 1 to 3 hours are common, and they don't take reservations. While you're waiting for the shuttle to take you out to the ship--you'll be issued a number and time of departure, which you must pick up yourself--you can explore the interesting museum's personal mementos, photographs, and historic documents. A moving 20-minute film precedes your trip to the ship. Allow a total of at least 4 hours for your visit.
Parents, note that baby strollers, baby carriages, and baby backpacks are not allowed in the theater, on the boat, or on the USS Arizona Memorial. All babies must be carried.
One last note: Most unfortunately, the USS Arizona Memorial is a high-theft area--leave your valuables at the hotel.
The Pearl Harbor Memorial was opened on Memorial day 1962, as a reminder of what took place on Dec 7th 1941, when the Japanese military launched a suprise attach on Americas pacific fleet.
Within 2 hours, 2,403 lifes were lost, 21 ships sunk or damaged, including all 8 of our battle ships, and 1,177 killed on the Arizona alone. This was a huge success for the Japanese, only losing 10% of their attacking force.
Today Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial is one of Americas most visited National Parks, with an average of 4,500 visitors a day, and 1.5 million visitors a year.
Entry is FREE
Open 7 days a week
730am - 500pm
Upon entrance, you will be given a ticket with your tour time. The wait can be up to a few hours which leaves you with a couple options. Many people spend their time waiting by walking the grounds, or exploring the museum. You are also free to leave and re-enter, so if you have a car, you can always go and come back before your tour. I recommend being back atleast 30 minutes before your tour time.
Parking is free, but the lots get pretty crowded come noon time. For shorter waiting times, the earlier the better.
In honor of the military personnel who lost their lives in the USS Arizona during the bombing of the Japanese in World War II, the USS Arizona Memorial was erected in Pearl Harbor. Come here and reflect in silence, but be prepared for the long lines. And if you’d like, also visit the USS Missouri, aka the “Mighty Mo”, a 58,000 ton battleship that’s an addition to the harbor.
Note: Tip originally written for Jan. 2003 visit to Oahu.
On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked the American battleships anchored in the harbor at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The result was catastrophic: Twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged. 2,403 Americans were killed. The battleship USS Arizona was destroyed and sunk that morning. Almost all the men on board were killed. The USS Arizona Memorial is a tribute to their memory and a must-see when you visit Oahu.
When you enter the memorial building, you are given a numbered ticket. The ticket guarantees your entrance to the film and then the boat ride to the USS Arizona. You will want to arrive early in the day to make sure you get a ticket. They often run out quickly, especially in the summer.
While you wait for the film, walk through the museum that details the history of the attack on Pearl Harbor. There is also a large gift shop. Eventually, you'll go into the theatre where the film is shown. Then, you are put onto a boat and taken to the memorial in the harbor. The memorial is located over the remains of the sunken ship. As you look over the edge, you can see the rusting remains of the USS Arizona. Oil is still bubbling up from the sunken ship, more than 60 years after it went down. There is a large memorial wall listing the names of all those who died on the USS Arizona. It's a very powerful and emotional place.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You cannot take bags into the memorial. They will not even allow you to bring a small purse or camera bag. You can take nothing but what will fit in your pockets. There are a few small lockers available on a truck outside the memorial, but it's really best not to bring anything with you at all.
On 3 September 1945, the USS Missouri floated in Tokyo Harbor, the location for the brief 23-minute surrender ceremony marking the end of World War II. Today, the USS Missouri, America's last battleship, sits in Pearl Harbor right next to the Arizona Memorial that marked America's entrance into that conflict. From a U.S. perspective, the Arizona and the Missouri form the bookends of the war.
A tour on the Missouri is worthwhile not only for the ship's historic role in the war's end, but also for a view of a lost era, when naval conflict was big ship versus big ship and when projecting power meant gunboat diplomacy. Unfortunately for the Missouri, when it was christened in 1944, the aircraft carrier had already made it obsolete. Still, it brought it's ability to lob 1900 pound shells 23 miles to Korea, Vietnam and even the first Persian Gulf War before it was retired for good. We spent the extra money to get the guided tour to ensure we got the wholestory.
When the USS Arizona sunk, it was carrying over 500,000 gallons of oil. Since the ship sank, corrosion has eatin away at the ships fuel bunkers, causing a small amount of oil to leak each day. Bubbling droplets of oil measuring 2cm wide account for an estimated 1 quart of oil a day.
You can witness the leak yourself at the memorial by walking to the center of the memorial and facing the stern of the ship towards the mountains. Directly infront of you, you will see Barbette No. 3 sticking out of the water. Between the Barbette and the memorial is where you will find the leak. Sometimes you will have to wait a few minutes until the oil slick appears.
There has been heavy debate on if the leak should be stopped. Many argue that it will cause harmful damage to the enviroment if the leak gets any bigger. While others say it is a link to the past, and the wreck should not be touched.
Pearl Harbor is a memorial that is built on top of a sunken ship USS Arizona where thousands of US servicemen lost their lives during an unexpected attack. Access to this memorial is free as the US Navy shuttle boats take you to the memorial from the visitor center. Before you board the shuttle, you should take the time to view a short documentary on Pearl Harbor at the theatre in the visitor center. The film usually runs for around 15-20 minutes and gives you a perspective of what went on during that fateful day. You would find many a wet eye at the end of this short film as it is indeed heart wrenching.
Barbette No. 3 is the most visible piece of the USS Arizona wreckage. A barbette is a protective cylinder that surrounds a revolving gun turret on a warship.
Barbette No. 3 can be seen on the North facing side of the memorial, towards the mountains. Between the Barbette and the memorial, is also where you can spot one of the oil leaks still coming from the ship. For more on the oil leak, check out my Oil Leak tip.
All American schoolchildren are taught that December 7th, 1941 was "a date which will live in infamy." On this day, the United States military installations surrounding Pearl Harbor, Hawaii were attacked by Japan in a devastating air raid. When all was done, 2,388 American lives were lost. Japanese forces suffered 65 casualties.
The attack targeted airplanes parked at Hickam field, Bellows field, Wheeler Field and Ford Island. Naval station Pearl Harbor supported a large fleet of ships which the Japanese aimed to demolish, focusing on the larger vessels. After the attack, nine ships had sunk and 21 were damaged. Of the sunken ships, 2 were not able to be risen and still remain on the harbor floor, the USS Utah and the USS Arizona.
A memorial to those lost was dedicated in 1962. The memorial spans the hull of the USS Arizona, without ever touching the ship itself. The names of the men and women who died in the attack at listed inside the memorial. As you look into the water, you can see oil puddles that are floating up from the ship, the "tears of the Arizona." The USS Arizona is considered an active US military cemetery and is a sacred place for visitors. It acts as a testament to all men and women lost in the Pearl Harbor attacks.
A visit to Pearl Harbor begins early in the morning. The museum open at 7:30am and boat tours to the USS Arizona begin at 8am. The visitor's center closes at 5:00pm. Tickets are free and first come, first serve. 4,500 tickets are allocated per day but most days they are gone by noon, so arrive early.
I strongly suggest getting the headset tour. This walks you through the museum and gives a great deal of extra historical information. The ticket includes the museum, a video on Pearl Harbor and the attack and the boat trip to the memorial. The video is actually very good (and I'm really picky about that kind of stuff). After the video, you board a boat to the memorial where you spend about 15 minutes.
I thought 15 minutes would not be much time, but the emotional toll of the memorial makes 15 minutes plenty of time to think about what you are experiencing. It is a very moving experience. If you only have time for one thing in Hawaii, this should be it.
Our Passport to Pearl Harbour tour included admission to the USS Missouri. I was eager to tour the "Mighty Mo" as it is called. This battleship was constructed in Brooklyn and put into action during WWII. The Mighty Mo has seen action in WWII, Korea and Desert Storm. They even fired on Iraq when I was in the Navy.
This battleship has seen alot in its days but is most famously known as the site of the Japanese surrender during WWII (there is a commorative plaque on the spot of the surrender). We had a guided tour of the ship that brought us from the outside decks to the interior of the ship. I myself was on an Aircraft Carrier but I was able to show my wife the sort of bunks we had to sleep on in the Navy as they were identical.
I enjoyed this tour very much and our guide was full of information. I especially enjoyed seeing the damage from a Kamikaze pilot on the ship during during the Battle for Okinawa as well as the photographic footage. The actual kamikaze attack was caught on film by the ship's baker by chance.
This is the reason we wanted to see Hawai'i, but wanted to see U.S.S. Arizona foremost.
To board the memorial, you need to make sure you have a ticket which is free. You have to see a movie and from there you board a boat provided by the navy. Be aware, they can cancel the boat ride if the waters get too choppy. Best time to see the memorial is first thing in the morning. They expect folks to be cordial and respectable because it is a somber place to visit.
The USS Arizona is the final resting place for many of the ship's 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. The 184-foot-long Memorial structure spans the mid-portion of the sunken battleship and consists of three main sections: the entry room; the assembly room, a central area designed for ceremonies and general observation; and the shrine room, where the names of those killed on the Arizona are engraved on the marble wall.
The USS Arizona Memorial grew out of wartime desire to establish some sort of memorial at Pearl Harbor to honor those who died in the attack. Suggestions for such a memorial began in 1943, but it wasn't until 1949, when the Territory of Hawaii established the Pacific War Memorial Commission, that the first real steps were taken to bring it about.
Initial recognition came in 1950 when Admiral Arthur Radford, Commander in Chief, Pacific (CINCPAC), ordered that a flagpole be erected over the sunken battleship. On the ninth anniversary of the attack, a commemorative plaque was placed at the base of the flagpole.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who helped achieve Allied victory in Europe during World War II, approved the creation of the Memorial in 1958. Its construction was completed in 1961 with public funds appropriated by Congress and private donations. The Memorial was dedicated in 1962.
According to its architect, Alfred Preis, the design of the Memorial, "Wherein the structure sags in the center but stands strong and vigorous at the ends, expresses initial defeat and ultimate victory....The overall effect is one of serenity. Overtones of sadness have been omitted to permit the individual to contemplate his own personal responses...his innermost feelings."
Bowfin was launched on 7 Dec 1942 and nicknamed the Pearl Harbor Avenger. Bowfin claimed 39 Japanese merchant ships and four Japanese military ships sunk. The single French Vichy French merchant ship - Van Vollenhoven - which was sunk off Saigon in convoy with Japanese ships. CDR Alden lists two more unidentified vessels that Bowfin may have sunk, and one large seaplane carrier/tanker that was damaged by a Bowfin torpedo. Mines laid by Bowfin on her third patrol may have sunk or severely damaged at least two other ships. Thirteen small craft were also sunk by her deck guns.
USS Bowfin remains a legend, for among these 188 submarines, Bowfin ranks 17th in tonnage and 15th in number of ships sunk. Fifty-two of 288 combat submarines (almost one out of five) and 3,505 out of 14,750 WWII U.S. submariners (almost one out of four) began their "eternal patrols" before Japan surrendered.
If you have any interest in history whatsoever, you must make a trek over to Pearl Harbour. To experience this place makes you realize the magnitude of its historical significance. Here I am with the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in the background.
The USS Missouri is a fantastic museum and a must see. We had a fantastic time exploring the deck and below. We wished we had more time to see everything. They have gentlemen who give a free tour, but it took to much time from spot to spot and found we could cover the ship by ourselves quickly. A safety tip! Make sure if you go up or down the stairs/ladder go backwards and hang onto the rails tightly.
The USS Missouri is an Iowa-class battleship designed for speed and firepower and commissioned in mid-1944. It carried out bombing raids over Tokyo and the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. During the last month of the war, the “Mighty Mo” served as Admiral Halsey’s flagship for the Pacific Third Fleet and it was on its decks that General Douglas A. MacArthur presided over the formal signing of the Japanese surrender to the Allied Forces on Sept. 2, 1945.
The Battleship USS Missouri is 887 feet long and 108 feet wide and is 5 feet longer and 18 feet wider than the Titanic. It has nine 116-ton guns on board, and each gun barrel is 67 feet long and can fire a 2,700-pound shell 23 miles in 50 seconds.
One of the exhibits we visited during our day at Pearl Harbour was the Remembrance Circle. This exhibit pays tribute to the men, women, and children, both military and civilian, who were killed as a result of the attack on December 7, 1941. Names that are displayed with gold lettering are recipients of the Medal of Honor. Along with the plaque of names is a bronze 3D map of Oahu illustrates the various attack targets of that day.