Sixty-three years ago today, the USS Arizona came to rest on the floor of Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor in an event that officially entered the United States into World War II.
Now, archaeologists, divers and photographers from the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center are helping develop ways to protect the battleship and pay respect to the crewmen who perished inside it when the Japanese made a surprise air attack on the Pacific Fleet.
Three members of the New Mexico-based resources center — who on Monday completed a three-day underwater recovery project of human remains at Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park — spent three weeks exploring the USS Arizona wreckage before arriving on the North Olympic Peninsula last week.
All of the Lake Crescent remains were located near a submerged vehicle owned by Russel and Blanch Warren, who disappeared in 1929 en route from Port Angeles to their Bogachiel-area logging camp.
Members of the Submerged Resources Center staff are dispatched to national parks throughout the country to help park staffs develop ways to protect and preserve underwater resources.
It can range from the chilly waters of Lake Crescent to the tropical waters of the National Park Service’s USS Arizona Memorial.
Documenting the wreckage
One of the center’s most extensive projects has been documenting the wreckage of the battleship.
Since 1983, the staff of the Submerged Resources Center, or SRC, has been tasked with mapping and photographing the remnants of the 608-foot battleship in which about 1,000 sailors remain entombed.
A total of 1,177 Arizona crewmen lost their lives on what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called a “day of infamy.”
Center staffers work with a host of others, including corrosion experts and structural engineers to help preserve the 90-year-old ship.
Submerged Resources Center photographer Brett Seymour, part of the team at Lake Crescent until Monday, said although he has explored the wreckage more than 100 times and taken thousands of pictures of the USS Arizona, he is still awestruck by the underwater memorial.
“It is a unique experience because unlike other memorials — such as Gettysburg where only a plaque remains — the Arizona is still there in the same shape it was when it was sunk,” he said.“It is a physical symbol that you can still see and still touch. Every time I dive, it is a powerful experience.”