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Friday, April 7, 2000

New Navy
attack submarine
named after us

The USS Hawaii is
due in 2006

By Gregg K. Kakesako


One of the Navy's newest nuclear attack submarines - to be completed six years from now - will be named after Hawaii.

The announcement will be made by Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig at a news conference at the Bowfin Submarine Memorial Museum tomorrow. Gov. Ben Cayetano and other politicians have been invited to attend.

The USS Hawaii will be the third Virginia-class submarine the Navy hopes to build. The first two will the USS Virginia and the USS Texas.

In 1998, the Navy awarded a $4.2 billion contract for four Virginia-class submarines. Electric Boat will deliver the USS Virginia in 2004 and the USS Hawaii in 2006; Newport News Shipbuilding will construct the USS Texas by 2005 and a fourth vessel by 2007.

Lt. Cmdr. Dave Werner, U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force spokesman, yesterday said he doesn't know if the USS Hawaii with its projected crew of 134 officers and sailors will homeported at Pearl Harbor.

The 377-foot attack submarine will be the latest addition to the Navy fleet which includes:

Bullet The 560-foot Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine which carries 24 Trident missiles.

Bullet The 353-foot Seawolf-class submarine. Three will be built.

Bullet The 360-foot Los Angeles-class submarine.

The Navy also operates two converted 425-foot Benjamin Franklin submarines - the USS Kamehameha and the USS Polk - for covert special operations involving Navy SEALs.

The USS Hawaii will be the state's fourth namesake. Two nuclear submarines - the USS Honolulu and the USS Kamehameha - are home-ported at Pearl Harbor.

The Navy recently launched the 609-foot dock-landing ship USS Pearl Harbor, which is berthed in San Diego.

The announcement comes at a time when the Navy, which celebrates its 100th anniversary Tuesday, faces increased demands: The number of Los Angeles nuclear attack subs, like the Honolulu, have declined nearly 40 percent - from 91 in 1990, to 56 today.

By 2015, said Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation needs 68 attack submarines to meet military requirements, including 18 with the latest Virginia class capabilities.

At Bangor Submarine Base in Washington - the West Coast home port for eight Trident ballistic missile submarines - four are scheduled to be overhauled to carry the nation's more-powerful Trident II (D5) missile as part of a five-year conversion program.

Eventually, the Navy hopes to evenly divide its 18-sub Trident fleet between the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.

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