Crew members man the rail after being directed by Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii to “Man our ship and bring her to life” during the commissioning ceremony for the Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776). Hawaii is the third Virginia-class submarine to be commissioned and part of the first major U.S. Navy combatant vessel class designed with the post-Cold War security environment in mind. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Mark Jones
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Ira J. Elinson, Naval Submarine Base New London Public Affairs
Under clear blue New England skies
, the Navy’s newest attack submarine, USS Hawaii (SSN 776) was commissioned May 5 on the Thames River at Naval Submarine Base New London, in Groton, Conn.
The ceremony, complete with hula dancers, war canoes, and leis, brought North Shore flavor to the shores of New England. Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, sponsor of Hawaii, spoke the words that the Navy, and especially the crew, had waited to hear since its christening in June 2006. In a time-honored Navy tradition, Lingle directed, “Man our ship and bring her to life!”
The third submarine of the Virginia class
, SSN 776 recognizes the tremendous support the Navy has enjoyed from the people of the Aloha State and honors the rich heritage of submarines in the Pacific theater.
“Most people, when they hear the word Hawaii, they immediately conjure up pictures of beautiful beaches, lovely dancers and moonlit nights,” said Hawaii Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. “Hawaii is all that and more: Our sons and daughters have participated in every war since we became part of the United States.”
“While most of the Western Pacific is, for the most part free, ships like Hawaii and the men who serve on her will help ensure that freedom for future generations,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, as he delivered the ceremony’s principal address.
Hawaii has improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable it to meet the Navy’s multi-mission requirements. Hawaii’s capabilities include: anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, special forces delivery and support, and covert mine warfare
. In addition to these mission areas, Hawaii will be able to strike targets ashore with precision Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, coastal waters or other maritime forces. With enhanced communications connectivity, the submarine also will provide unique, fully-integrated strike group and joint task force support
"People who tour the ship speak of the technology, computer displays and fiber optics,” said Lingle, “but it is the spirit of its Sailors that makes this ship great.”
Capt. David A. Solms, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., is the ship’s commanding officer, leading a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel.
The 7,800-ton Hawaii was built by the shipbuilder team of General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Conn., and Northrop Grumman Newport News, Va. The submarine is 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. Hawaii is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship – reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.
Hawaii will complete a post-commissioning shakedown period and continue readying for its first deployment from Naval Submarine Base New London. The ship will eventually be homeported in Hawaii in 2009.