The secretary of the Navy announced that the next Virginia-class attack submarine will be named in honor of recently retired Virginia Senator John Warner. Warner retired Jan. 3, 2009, after 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.
The USS John Warner, honors Warner's lifetime of service to the nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Sen. Warner's career in public service began in Jan. 1945, the last year of World War II, when he enlisted at the age of 17 in the U.S. Navy, where he earned the rank of Petty Officer 3rd class. In the Fall of 1949, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve. At the outbreak of the Korean War in Oct. 1950, he volunteered for active duty and was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps and served with the 1st Marine Air Wing as a ground communications officer in Korea.
He continued his affiliation with the Marine Corps Reserve, reaching the rank of Captain. In Feb. 1969 he was appointed and confirmed by the Senate as under secretary of the Navy, and succeeded Secretary John Chafee as the 61st Secretary of the Navy in 1972 following Senate confirmation during the height of the war in Vietnam. During this period, Warner was designated as chief negotiator for the conference between the U.S. and Soviet navies which led to the Incidents at Sea Agreement which is still in effect today. Entering politics in 1978, he was elected to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia in the U.S. Senate. He served five consecutive terms becoming the 2nd longest serving U.S. Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia in the 218-year history of the Senate.
During his 30 years of service in the Senate, Warner was a leader in national defense issues serving continuously on the Senate Committee on Armed Services. He held leadership roles as chairman or ranking member for half of his tenure on this committee and also served many years on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In this capacity, and throughout his career, he has shown unwavering support for the men and women of the armed forces, and has been a champion of modernizing the structure and operations of the military to ensure its effectiveness in the 21st century.
This next-generation attack submarine will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. It will have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements. The USS John Warner will have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. It is also designed for special forces delivery and support, a subject Warner worked on throughout his career in the U.S. Senate.
The Virginia-class is 7,800 tons and 377 ft in length, has a beam of 34 ft, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. It 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. The USS John Warner will be built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., in partnership with General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corporation. Warner was instrumental in developing this construction teaming arrangement concept which was later codified into law.