the Pearl Harbor day

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Today we’re off to Pearl Harbour.

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I admit I had no interest in going to see Pearl Harbour. I have no interest in war and governments sending young men and women to kill and be killed. I also knew that I would have to go because Peter is ex Australian Army Reserve and is very interested in military and war history. I also knew when we decided to go to Hawaii that we would be going to Pearl Harbour.

The main attraction (for want of a better word) at the Pearl Harbour Visitor Centre is the Arizona Memorial and tickets are free. In fact, admission to the visitor centre is free and you are free to walk the grounds. So you could wander around, see the Arizona Memorial and enter the museum in the grounds all for free. Each day 1300 walk in tickets are available for the Arizona Memorial and they recommend you arrive early (the visitor centre opens at 7:00am) to ensure you get tickets. I suggest getting tickets for the Arizona for as early a time slot as you can as they can cancel the trips if it get too windy.

Better still, you can book tickets online exactly two months before the date you want to visit though this attracts a $1.50US each booking fee. Well worth it. You can also do as we did and book the Pearl Harbour Passport online for $65US. This includes the online booking for the Arizona Memorial and the audio tour, the USS Missouri Memorial, the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum. Of course the passport can also be bought on the day.

Pearl Harbor Visitor Reservations & Tour Information

So on Tuesday morning we had an early start as I had arranged transport with Roberts Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor Shuttle for only $15US return and our pick up was at 6:20am. We got our cappuccinos from the Aloha Coffee shop and walked to our pickup point at the Duke statue on Waikiki Beach. There were only about six people on the bus and we were soon heading to Pearl Harbor.

When we arrived at Pearl Harbour there was a young woman (sorry can’t remember her name) from Roberts who met the bus and let us know where to meet in the afternoon for the bus back to Waikiki. She offered everybody tickets to the  8:15am time for the Arizona Memorial and as I had booked our tickets for 10.00am I gladly took the offer of earlier tickets as it would make the rest of the day that little bit more flexible. Then it was time to exchange our printed voucher for our passport tickets. The visitor centre and grounds feel peaceful and welcoming.



By the time we waited in line and retrieved our tickets it was around 7:15am so we spent the next 45 minutes or so walking the grounds and looking at the exhibits.

The first good look at the Arizona Memorial.







Soon it was time to gather by the theatre and at 8:15 we went in and watched a 20 minute movie about the Pearl Harbor attack. After the movie we exited on the other side of the theatre and boarded the shuttle boat for the short trip to the Arizona Memorial.



Got a good view of the USS Missouri on the way to the Arizona.


Arriving at the Arizona. We were there in May and the dock has since been replaced, in June 2016.


When we arrived, the 8:00am visitors were still there, they would be shuttled back to the visitor centre in the same boat that took us to the memorial.


Once there you have 15 minutes to look around and just take it all in. If you prefer you can listen to the audio commentary or there is a very knowledgable guide you can follow and listen to.

At the opposite end of the memorial from the dock, is the wall of remembrance where the names of all the sailors and marines who died on the Arizona are listed.


It is very sobering to realise that the people who belong to those names on the wall are still in the ship below the memorial where we are standing, 75 years after they died.





Even now, 75 years later, the Arizona is still leaking 2.1 litres of oil every day. If you look closely you should be able to see the oil slick in this photo.


This is a model of what the site looks like from the Valor in the Pacific Museum which is one of the free sites located in the grounds of the visitor centre.


After the Arizona we made our way to the other side of the visitor centre to catch the shuttle bus to Ford Island to see the USS Missouri. As Ford Island is still an active military you are not allowed to take photos, the only exceptions are the USS Missouri, the USS Oklahoma Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

We passed the Oklahoma Memorial before I realised what it was and I missed taking a photo of it. It is on the left just before entering the Missouri site.



On the Missouri you can walk around exploring on your own. We chose to join one of the volunteer guides for a 30 minute tour on the deck.



This is the surrender deck where Japan’s surrender to the allies was signed on 2 September 1945.


A photo of the signing of the surrender on the Missouri. (If you want to read the writing you can click on the photo which brings it up in a new page in Flickr, click on the photo or if you want it to fit the screen click on the expand arrows in the top right corner of the photo.)


After the tour of the deck we were free to explore. I went exploring at deck level through the officer’s areas and then the deck below through the mess, kitchens and sleeping areas.


There is a section for “real meals” and a section for fast food.


This is not where the officers sleep!


Or here!




I did not expect to see a Post Office on the ship but when you think about it they are at sea for months at a time so a Post Office would be needed.


I also did not expect to see a dentist.


Peter went exploring upwards and took this shot just below the bridge, you can see the Arizona Memorial not far in front of the ship. In the distance you can just make out the bridge to Ford Island.


After we left the ship we got lunch from a food truck outside the Missouri and then it was time to board the shuttle bus to the next site, the Pacific Aviation Museum.









I slipped this one in here because it’s cute!



I really didn’t expect to see an Australian Airforce F-111 but the east coast of Australia is in the Pacific so I guess it fits.


We then took the bus back to the visitor centre area and went to the USS Bowfin Submarine.




Inside, the submarine was cramped, as you would expect. Getting through the doorways with my injured, partially healed knee was challenging.




Back up on deck looking back towards the visitor centre.


Peter took this photo of the Missouri through the periscope of the Bowfin.


After the Bowfin we wandered around a bit more, then found the gift shop and lost some money. Peter bought three t-shirts and as he spent over a certain amount ($25US?) he received a free coffee mug.

We went back to the information desk and traded the voucher that Roberts gave us that morning for a copy of the 7 December 1941 edition of the newspaper. These can also be bought in the gift shop for around $1.95US if I recall correctly.

We spent the whole day at Pearl Harbor and Peter was thinking about extending his ticket (for a minimal cost) and coming back on Friday but didn’t end up having time. All in all it was an enjoyable and interesting day.



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