USS Hawaii steams into Pearl today


POSTED: Thursday, July 23, 2009

The first of three Virginia-class submarines—the USS Hawaii—will arrive at Pearl Harbor this morning as a warmup act for the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's statehood next month.

Gov. Linda Lingle will board the Navy's latest-generation attack submarine for a brief meeting with the crew before the 9:30 a.m. arrival ceremony at Pearl Harbor's submarine piers.

However, the public will be allowed to view the arrival of the 377-foot nuclear submarine only from the Ford Island seaplane ramp. Public parking will be provided on Ford Island beginning at 8 a.m.

The arrival ceremony will include a Hawaii Air National Guard F-15 jet flyover and the Pacific Fleet Band, the Kamehameha Alumni Glee Club, Halau Hula Olana Ai, Kahuna Pule Ganotise and a haka by Pa Kuci a Lua.

The $2.5 billion Hawaii will be followed later by the Virginia-class subs USS Texas and USS North Carolina.

In his Monday blog entry, Cmdr. Ed Herrington, Hawaii's commanding officer, said: “;Excitement continues to build as we enter the final stages of our transit. The tactical monitors in my control room that track the ship's position now feature the islands of Hawaii. After looking at the west coast of Mexico for so long and feeling like we weren't making much progress on our journey, it is nice to see the friendly waters of Hawaii and realize that we are only days away.”;

He said his crew of 130 have been getting haircuts and working out on the sub's exercise equipment “;to make sure they look good for the big arrival.”;

On Friday, Herrington wrote that although some submarine crews are allowed to grow beards while at sea, “;I can't officially say that we have that policy. I can say that the barber shop will be open in the torpedo room all Saturday and Sunday just to make sure we look our best when we arrive.”;

Friday was when the submarine officially became a part of the Pacific Fleet, Herrington said in his blog.

In an earlier blog last week, Herrington said all Virginia-class submarines have “;a very realistic team trainer that can simulate various submarines and surface ships of countries around the world. We use the system to provide realistic maritime scenarios for the crew to respond to and hone their war-fighting skills. As we transit to Hawaii, we are currently working on our ability to track other submarines covertly, conduct Tomahawk strikes and respond to potential ship-wide casualties.”;

He also gave a glimpse of a sailor's life underwater.

“;At sea, we work in an 18-hour rotation. Each sailor stands watch for six hours, usually has another six hours of maintenance or training, and then has about six hours off to get ready for the next watch. The average sailor only gets about six hours of sleep a day. They use their limited free time to work out, play video games, watch movies, do laundry (we only have one washer and dryer for a crew of 130), and send e-mails home to their families. Life on board a submarine at sea is always busy.”;