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  • USS Hawaii to Stay at Pearl Harbor
Aug 2006
HONOLULU, Aug. 23, 2006 -- Navy Secretary Donald Winter has confirmed that the USS Hawaii, one of the Navy's new  $2.6-billion stealth Virginia-class nuclear submarines, will be stationed at Pearl Harbor, the Associated Press reported yesterday. Winter said the 377-foot sub will be commissioned next summer in Connecticut, where it was christened in June, with Gov. Linda Lingle acting as its sponsor. The sub will likely be ready to move to its namesake state in 2009.

Lt. Jeff Davis, Pacific Fleet Submarine Forces spokesman, reportedly said that the Virginia-class submarine -- the Navy's newest -- differs from other nuclear attack submarines because it uses a propulsor instead of a regular propeller (a propulsor is an advanced-design propeller shielded by a duct; the nuclear reactor is fueled for the life of the ship (30-plus years); it has a nine-man airlock trunk, enabling an entire SEAL team to lock out together (instead of two at a time now); and it has no periscope but instead uses a photonics mast with a camera. (See "Electric Boat Awarded $30M Virginia Sub Contract")

He said Hawaii "will be able to operate quietly in shallow coastal waters, collecting intelligence, inserting SEALs ashore and striking targets hundreds of miles inland."

Hawaii has been home to the first Pacific Fleet submarines since the early 1900s, the Navy said. In 1887, the Navy received exclusive rights to "Wai Momi," meaning "water of pearl" when the Hawaiian monarch King David Kalakaua signed a treaty to allow a coaling station and repair facility at the harbor, thanks to its key strategic location. It wasn't until the Appropriations Act of May 13, 1908, that the Navy was authorized to build a naval base at Pearl Harbor.

Winter also said that the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Buffalo will be sent to Guam next year. The Navy's attack sub force of 53 is split almost evenly now, with 28 in the Atlantic and 25 in the Pacific. By 2010, there will be 31 nuclear-powered attack subs in the Pacific Fleet and 21 assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported on Tuesday. In June, the Navy said the Virginia-class nuclear attack sub the USS Texas, which will be commissioned Sept. 9 in Galveston, Texas, is also likely to be stationed at Pearl Harbor.

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