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USS Hawaii nearing new Pearl Harbor home


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POSTED: Saturday, July 11, 2009

The nuclear attack submarine USS Hawaii is cruising the Pacific today on its last leg to its new home at Pearl Harbor.

The 7,600-ton submarine spent nine hours yesterday maneuvering the three sets of locks that make up the Panama Canal, according to its skipper, Cmdr. Ed Herrington.

The ship's captain has since May 13 been maintaining a blog that chronicles the voyage of the $2.5 billion submarine, the third Virginia-class attack submarine constructed and the first to be named after the Aloha State, since it left Groton, Conn., where it was built.

Herrington wrote yesterday that “;the trip takes about nine hours including three sets of locks and a six-hour drive through a large lake that has about different 12 turns. The locks are challenging for any ship and especially for submarines. We don't have bow thrusters on submarines so fitting a 7,600-ton submarine into a 110-foot-wide canal is to say the least interesting.

; “;My line handlers topside have to haul in these very heavy cables to secure the boat to the lock and do so as the ship is drifting within feet of the canal walls. If they don't get the lines over quickly, the ship could stand into trouble.”;

He said the 370-foot nuclear-powered submarine “;passed numerous large merchants at close range, a school full of little girls played their musical instruments and waved as we drove by, and we received a big cheer from the visitors at the Miraflores Visitor Station at one of the locks.”;

He said this was the submarine's third trip through the Panama Canal.

Three crew members also were awarded their “;Dolphin,”; or submarine warfare pin, today during the canal transit.

The Navy does not publicize the arrivals and departures of its warships. But state officials have said the submarine, which was commissioned on May 5, 2007, and is the first Virginia-class submarine to be home-ported in Pearl Harbor, will play a big part in the 50th anniversary of Hawaii statehood once it arrives before the end of the month.