Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 9, 2001

Aloha 'oe, old warrior of seas

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Packing 16 Polaris missiles, it was one of the "41 for Freedom" submarines built at the height of the Cold War as a nuclear threat deterrent, and the first to receive a Hawai'i-based name.

Cmdr. Edward Seal, the last skipper of the USS Kamehameha, gets a hug and kiss from his wife, Faryn, as daughters Jennifer, Tricia and Katy wait their turn. The submarine was inactivated in a ceremony yesterday.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

Both legacies were honored yesterday at Pearl Harbor when the USS Kamehameha — the oldest converted attack submarine in the Navy fleet — was inactivated after 36 years of duty.

At a ceremony attended by several hundred people, including former crew members, Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawai'i, spoke of the parallels between Kamehameha I and the submarine named for the Hawaiian king. Inouye also spoke at the ship's launching in 1965.

"Kamehameha, great warrior, great leader, used his military prowess to bring about and then maintain peace," said Inouye, who suggested the sub's name to President Kennedy in 1963.

Original crew members or "plank owners" came from as far as Oregon and Pennsylvania for the inactivation. The 425-foot sub will sail in a few days for Bremerton, Wash., where its reactor will be removed and it will be cut up for scrap.

"I'm kind of emotional about seeing this. (The Kamehameha) was where I grew up. It's where I turned from a kid into an adult," said Dick Tenderella, who was 19 when he shipped aboard as a sonar technician.

The Oregon man, 56, recalls that patrols in the Ben Franklin-class ballistic missile submarine were long and that the Kamehameha once stayed submerged for 97 days.

Traditionally, submarines had been named for fish until Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, observed that "fish don't vote." That opened the way for names like Kamehameha.

The Kamehameha went on 63 "deterrence" patrols before the Navy converted it in 1992 so it could deploy special forces.

The Navy has two other submarines with Hawai'i names — the USS Honolulu and the USS Hawai'i, which is not yet in service.