HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Over four days last week, scientists and divers placed measuring devices around various sites on the sunken wreckage of the USS Arizona battleship.
The reason: The National Park Service is trying to determine how much the ship deteriorated during the first few years after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"The initial corrosion reaches a certain point and then it stabilizes. What we're interested in in is how long does it take to get to that stabilization. That helps us on the modeling to see the overall lifespan of the Arizona," Brett Seymour said.
Seymour is with the National Park Service Submerge Resources Center.
The project to gauge the battleship's lifespan involved NPS, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, an oil researcher from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and a metallurgist.
Divers set up four racks holding metal pieces similar to the ship's metal. Over the next four years they'll be analyzed at periodic intervals.
"We're going to measure the fabric loss of that corrosion to try to get a better estimate on the front end of the deterioration of the Arizona," Seymour said.
The Park Service is also trying to pinpoint where on the ship oil is leaking from.
There were 500,000 gallons stored in dozens of sites on the battleship.
"Is the oil that's leaking off the Arizona coming from a bunker or a couple of bunkers, or is it pooling in the overhead and slowly making its way out of the ship some 70 years later?" Seymour said.
The findings from the two new studies could have far-reaching implications.
"This not only informs us about the Arizona and what we have here in Hawaii but about other shipwrecks around the United States and even potentially other oil spills," said Katie Bojakowski, NPS chief of cultural resources.
The National Park Service thinks the Arizona has from 100 to 150 years before the ship starts to collapse. The new corrosion study could help narrow down that estimate.