USS Arizona relic arrives at Fort Miles

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

The Fort Miles Museum in Lewes received an artifact from the USS Arizona, courtesy of the U.S. Navy, on Monday, March 23.

The relic, one of the largest ever released, will become the centerpiece of the museum’s first exhibit in its new ocean-view venue space.  That exhibit, “Relics of the USS Arizona – Interpreting Pearl Harbor Beyond the Hawaiian Islands,” will open this summer.

The USS Arizona battleship was commissioned in 1916.  It was one of eight battleships anchored in Pearl Harbor and one of the first to be bombed during Japan’s surprise attack on December 7, 1941. The explosion that sank the USS Arizona cost 1,177 lives. In 1961, the US Navy constructed a memorial on the site of the wreckage.

The Fort Miles Museum has worked for over two years with the USS Arizona Relics Program to bring a piece of the battleship to the mid-Atlantic region. The Relics Program was established in 1995 and authorized the Navy to move pieces of the wreckage to educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations across the county.

Relics of the Arizona come from a portion of the vessel that was removed in the 1950s due to corrosion and safety concerns. Before removal, the section acted as a foundation for a makeshift platform, where visitors to the Arizona could stand and ceremonies could be conducted.

The Fort Miles Association is keeping their relic’s description a secret until an unveiling event later this spring. They’ve given a few hints, though – it’s 10 feet long, three feet wide and approximately 650 pounds. It was the largest available relic.

Following the closure of the “USS Arizona” exhibit, the historical association expects it to be permanently displayed outside the museum entrance, next to the USS Missouri gun barrel.