USS Hawaii heads for its new Pearl Harbor home


POSTED: Thursday, May 14, 2009

The $2.5 billion attack submarine USS Hawaii left the East Coast yesterday en route to its new home port at Pearl Harbor.





        » Builder: General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News

» Propulsion: One nuclear reactor


» Length: 377 feet (beam 34 feet)


» Displacement: 7,800 tons submerged


» Speed: 25-plus knots (29 mph)


» Crew: 134 (14 officers; 120 enlisted)


» Armament: Tomahawk missiles, 12 Vertical Launch System tubes, MK48 ADCAP torpedoes


Source: U.S. Navy




It is the first Virginia-class sub to be home-ported here and is expected to arrive at Pearl Harbor this summer, in time for the celebration of Hawaii's 50th anniversary of statehood on Aug. 21.

The nuclear-powered submarine, the Navy's newest, is capable of multiple missions, including special warfare operations. It will be joined here by two other Virginia-class boats, the USS Texas and USS North Carolina, now berthed at Groton, Conn. The Texas is slated to arrive here in the fall. There has been no official announcement involving the North Carolina.

The departure of the 7,800-ton sub was marred by the death of a crewman early Friday at a Groton pier at New London Naval Base. The death of John Carlos Rodriguez, 22, of Doylestown, Pa., a machinist's mate, is under investigation, but no foul play is suspected, said Lt. Patrick Evans, Submarine Group 2 public affairs officer.

“;This was an unfortunate incident,”; said Rear Adm. Bruce Grooms, sub group commander. “;We grieve with the family, and we are investigating what drove this. In addition, we looked really closely at the climate aboard the submarine, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the boat and the senior leadership are as good as it gets.”;

The Hawaii, with 134 sailors and officers led by Cmdr. Ed Herrington, is the second submarine in naval history to receive the U.S. Coast Guard meritorious unit commendation for its role in tracking drug runners and confiscating drugs. It participated in counter-drug operations in the eastern Pacific Ocean from Feb. 20 to April 17, 2008.

The unit's citation said the submarine “;aided in the interdiction of various drug-laden vessels, seizing large quantities of cocaine and detaining multiple narcotics drug smugglers.”;

Armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Mark 48 torpedoes, the Hawaii was the third Virginia-class attack submarine constructed and the first to be named after the Aloha state. It was commissioned on May 5, 2007, in Groton. The 377-foot sub is 17 feet longer than the Los Angeles-class subs.

The Hawaii uses a propulsor, an advanced-design propeller shielded by a duct instead of a regular propeller, and it has a nine-man airlock trunk, enabling an entire SEAL team to lock out together. It has a photonics mast with a camera instead of a periscope.

By the end of this year, there will be 18 attack submarines at Pearl Harbor, two more than currently assigned. Eventually, 60 percent of the Navy's attack submarines will be berthed here.

The first USS Hawaii, a World War II era cruiser, was never completed and was sold for scrap in 1959.