Star Bulletin file photo
The National Park Service is worried that homeporting
the USS Missouri would overpower the solemnity
of the Arizona Memorial.

Will ‘Mighty Mo’
be too much?

The National Park Service is concerned
that the USS Missouri might detract
from the Arizona Memorial

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Supporters like the image of two battleships next to each other in Pearl Harbor: the USS Arizona symbolizing the beginning of World War II and the USS Missouri signifying Japan's defeat.

But the National Park Service, which manages the Arizona Memorial, rejects the historic bookends analogy.

Kathy Billings, Arizona Memorial superintendent, is worried that the 950-foot battleship Missouri, whose superstructure rises 120 feet from its deck, will "overshadow" the Arizona Memorial.

It would be temporarily located "one battleship length away" from the Arizona Memorial, Billings said.

She plans to cite her concerns at a public forum at 7 p.m. today at Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School sponsored by the Navy Facilities Engineering Command to discuss what the USS Arizona Memorial Association plans to do with the Missouri.

It is the second of two public hearings the Navy is required to hold because the Missouri was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The first was held in Seattle in September.

Star Bulletin file photo
The USS Arizona Memorial.

Under provisions of the federal National Historic Preservation Act, the Navy has to seek public comment on the effects donating the battleship will have on the Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor.

Mel Kaku, director of environmental planning, said, "The Navy will fully consider all the comments and mitigation measures dealing with the preservation of the vessel."

By the end of the year, the Navy hopes to come up with an agreement to be signed by representatives of the Navy, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and Historic Preservation Offices in the states of Hawaii and Washington. It will be binding on the Missouri Memorial Association.

The Navy in August 1996 selected Pearl Harbor as the home of the 53-year-old Missouri, where the Japanese surrendered to Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Tokyo Bay ending World War II. The Missouri Memorial Association plans to tow the 58,000-ton battlewagon from Bremerton in Washington's Puget Sound next May and open it to the public in January 1999.

Billings has been working with the Navy and the Missouri Memorial Association "to try to mitigate" the Park Service's concerns.

Plans now call for the World War II battleship to be moored for up to three years at Foxtrot 5, a pier at Ford Island, until its permanent berth located farther down the channel where the USS California was sunk is completed.

Billings worries that thousands of visitors flocking to the Missouri will shatter "the quiet contemplative" atmosphere at the Arizona Memorial, where 1,177 servicemen are entombed.

The Arizona, sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941, is visited by 1.6 million people annually.

State officials believe an additional 1 million visitors would fly to Hawaii to see the Missouri.

The Navy also is still under fire for deciding to relocate the Missouri from Bremerton, where it is now moored at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, or not to send it to San Francisco or Long Beach in Southern California.

The nonprofit Missouri Memorial Association hopes to raise $25 million to refurbish the ship for public display and to fund other parts of its master plan by the time the battleship opens to the public in 1999.

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Community]
[Info] [Letter to Editor] [Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1997 Honolulu Star-Bulletin