USS Hawaii joins fleet
The Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine is being commissioned in Connecticut
THE NAVY'S newest nuclear attack submarine -- the 377-foot USS Hawaii -- is set to join the fleet tomorrow, but it will be at least two years before it is assigned to Pearl Harbor.
With 30 Virginia-class attack submarines planned, Adm. Gary Roughead, the outgoing head of the Pacific Fleet, said more subs like the Hawaii will be berthed at Pearl Harbor as they replace the older Los Angeles-class boats. Roughead will be the principal speaker tomorrow when the Hawaii is brought into the fleet.
Length: 377 feet
Displacement: 7,800 tons
Maximum diving depth: Greater than 800 feet
Speed: 25-plus knots
Cost: About $2.6 billion
Crew: 134 officers and enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk cruise missiles, Mark 48 torpedoes, four torpedo tubes, advanced mobile mines and unmanned undersea vehicles
Source: U.S. Navy
The commissioning of the Hawaii follows two other major milestones for the Virginia-class submarines with the christening of the fourth boat -- the USS North Carolina -- on April 21 and the laying of the keel of the USS New Hampshire last Monday.
Sen. Daniel Inouye, who will introduce Roughead at Hawaii's commissioning ceremonies, said, "In ancient Hawaii, Hawaiian warriors were known for their courage and loyalty. Since World War II, modern-day Hawaii has had a sizable portion of its men and women, on a per-capita basis, join the U.S. armed forces and pledge to defend the United States. This proud and rich legacy is the guiding spirit of the USS Hawaii."
Hawaii's commissioning will take place at 11 a.m. at New London Naval Base in Groton, Conn., with Gov. Linda Lingle helping to give the order "to bring the boat to life." Subs of this class use not a propeller, but a propulsor, an advanced system shielded by a duct.
As the ship's sponsor, Lingle inscribed her initials on a steel plate of the Hawaii in August 2004. Two years later the governor christened the vessel.
She also toured the nuclear submarine and was to participate in the promotion ceremonies for the skipper of the Hawaii, Capt. David Sloms, this evening.
Lingle will head a delegation of island leaders including Maj. Gen. Bob Lee, state adjutant general, and members of the Honolulu Council of the Navy League.
The 377-foot USS Hawaii, shown here at sea, will be commissioned tomorrow in ceremonies at New London Naval Base in Groton, Conn., but it will be at least two years before the nuclear attack submarine is assigned to Pearl Harbor. CLICK FOR LARGE
The commissioning will open with a blessing in Hawaiian by retired Hawaii Army National Guard Master Sgt. Raymond Ganotise, the singing of "Hawaii Ponoi" by Al Harrington and a hula performance by Halau Hula Olana.
There are now three types of nuclear-powered attack submarines in the Navy: the Los Angeles, Seawolf and Virginia classes. There also are 18 larger Ohio-class Trident nuclear ballistic missile boats. Four of them are being converted to carry conventional guided missiles, with an additional capability to transport and support special operations.
Displacing 7,800 tons with a length of 377 feet, the Virginia class is longer but lighter than the previous 355-foot Seawolf class of submarines. It will have a 134-member crew.
Unlike a conventional submarine, the Hawaii has no periscope, using a photonics mast with a camera instead. Its nuclear reactor is fueled for the life of the ship -- 30-plus years.
Currently, the Navy's attack sub force of 53 is split almost evenly, with 28 boats prowling the waters of the Atlantic and 25 in the Pacific. By 2010 there will be 31 nuclear-powered attack subs in the Pacific Fleet and 21 assigned to the Atlantic Fleet.