Inouye Namesakes in Honolulu

One year after the senator’s passing, a multitude of places have been renamed to honor his legacy, from UH buildings, to a century-old lighthouse on Kauai, to a Navy destroyer.

Photo: Mark Arbeit

Last Dec. 17, Hawaii lost a political powerhouse when Sen. Daniel Inouye passed away. His legacy lives on, of course, including through a spate of organizations renaming buildings after him, as well as a highway and a Navy destroyer.

Inouye didn’t like things being named after him during his lifetime, says Jennifer Sabas, his long-time chief of staff. “So, before he passed away, he said, ‘Please make sure what is named after me, it passes the test in the community. When people hear of it, they say, ‘Oh, that makes sense,’” she says.

Sabas adds there’ll likely be even more things carrying the late senator’s name, but here’s a roundup of Inouye namesakes so far:


Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center

Originally the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Regional Center, these Ford Island structures were the first to be renamed after the late senator. Inouye helped secure the $331 million in funding to help build a new center alongside four existing preserved historic structures.

The Daniel K. Inouye Institute

This UH Manoa building has perhaps received the most attention. It’ll house Inouye’s congressional papers, priceless photos and military memorabilia. “There will be robust oral history projects, and involvement with local veterans,” says Sabas, adding that the Institute will have strong ties to the Library of Congress. Construction was supposed to begin in November, but both the UH Board of Regents and the family have decided to postpone construction, “to get more community input,” she says.

Daniel K. Inouye Allied Health Center

This center on the UH Maui campus primarily supports dental hygiene programs and dental assisting. “[Inouye] had a strong propensity for education equity,” says Sabas. “He wanted each campus to have something it could be proud of.”

Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy

In 2000, the late senator provided just under $1 million to start a college of pharmacy at UH Hilo. Today, the school has more than 500 students, and projects that serve the local Marshallese population and provide healthcare for kupuna in rural areas.

Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education

This center at UH Manoa—also known as C-MORE—was established in 2006. It was renamed after Inouye for his ongoing support for the program’s research.

Daniel K. Inouye Electronics Technology Building

This 18,000-square-foot center is home to Kauai Community College’s electronics program, where students are involved in projects such as the Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory.


USS Daniel Inouye

Inouye, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Italy during World War II, will have an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer named after him. It’s being built in Bath, Maine, and is slated for delivery by mid-2018.

Daniel K. Inouye Highway

“This was a social issue for the senator,” says Sabas, of the highway formerly known as Saddle Road on the Big Island. “It was about bringing the island together.” She adds that Inouye worked on getting funding for the transportation project for 25 years, until it was completed this September.

Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse

Inouye loved this century-old lighthouse, says Sabas, and got funding for it when it was in disrepair. The lighthouse was re-lit for the first time in years during the renaming ceremony this May.

The MV Daniel K. Inouye

Last month, Matson Inc. announced that one of its two new Aloha Class container ships would be named after Inouye, citing his long-time support of the U.S. Merchant Marine and the maritime industry in general. At 850 feet long, the Inouye and its sibling will be the largest Jones Act container ships ever.

Did you know? About 1,100 boxes containing papers and memorabilia have been shipped to Hawaiifrom Inouye’s offices in Washington, D.C. Until the Inouye Institute is constructed, they’ll be housed in Hamilton Library.