A U.S. Navy report faulted the harbor pilot and captain of a hospital ship that damaged a dock at the Arizona memorial in Hawaii in May, blaming poor control over ship assist tugs that led to the hospital ship Mercy coming too close to the World War II Pearl Harbor monument.
ABC and the Associated Press cited a report by the Military Sealift Command that said the pilot and Capt. Thomas Giudice lost track of the ship’s true direction for a critical three minutes before the allision.
Prop wash from the Mercy pushed a floating dock toward the memorial, damaging it and leaving 6” scrape marks on the ship’s hull, the report said. Witnesses to the May 27 incident described crunching and scraping noises as the ship and tug passed close by the memorial.
The report, completed over the summer and released Wednesday, recommended unspecified administrative action against Giudice, as having ultimate responsibility for the ship, and for the Mercy’s chief mate and navigator, whose inexperience the report said contributed to the incident.
The Arizona is a centerpiece of harbor tours, hosted by the National Park Service, that bring in as many as 5,000 people a day. The memorial was closed for a week after the incident while the dock was repaired.
The memorial remembers the 1,177 sailors and Marines who died on the battleship when its forward ammunition magazine was detonated by a Japanese bomb during the surprise attack of Dec. 7, 1941 that led America to war. It was the single biggest loss of life during the air raid, and most bodies were never recovered from the ship’s sunken hull, straddled by the memorial built in 1962.
The Mercy had undergone a $13.4 million winter overhaul at Vigor Industrial, Portland, Ore., and was departing Pearl Harbor for the Navy’s recurring "Pacific Partnership" humanitarian mission that brings advanced medical care to island nations and Southeast Asia.