LOS ANGELES — There is perhaps no greater American monument to the War in the Pacific than Ford Island in Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor.
The naval base there with its old hangars, runway and control tower — some still showing damage from the Japanese attack that brought the United States into World War II — is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dotted around the island’s 450 acres are memorials to the battleships Arizona, Utah and Oklahoma, which were sunk. Docked near the Arizona’s submerged hull is the Missouri, the legendary battlewagon and scene of Japan’s formal surrender on Sept. 2, 1945.
Now, aviation enthusiasts, history buffs and military veterans fear that Ford Island is under a new threat. The Navy plans to use a swath of the famous airfield for a solar power plant with 60,000 photovoltaic panels. Opponents say the project would dishonor those who died there on Dec. 7, 1941, and alter the character of the island by giving the historic setting a more industrial feel.
Defense Department officials say the proposal would help the Navy meet a requirement that its shore installations obtain half their power from alternative sources by 2020. The Navy, which anticipates lowering electricity costs at its Pearl Harbor facilities by about $1.5 million in the first year alone, has vowed to protect the island’s history.