Pearl Harbor to get new submarine
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
The Navy announced Wednesday that a third new Virginia-class submarine, the USS North Carolina, will be home-ported in Hawaiçi, with the submarine expected to arrive next summer.
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaiçi, said in 2007 that the USS Hawaiçi, USS Texas and USS North Carolina would be based at Pearl Harbor.
Wednesdays announcement by the Navy is its first official acknowledgement of the impending arrival of the North Carolina.
The states namesake submarine, the USS Hawaiçi, arrived in July, and the Texas pulled into Pearl Harbor in November after heading up to the North Pole via the east coast and then transiting through the Panama Canal.
The Navy last year said every two of three Virginia-class submarines being built on the east coast initially would be based at Pearl Harbor. The remainder will be at Groton, Conn.
The Navy plans to build 30 of the submarines, which cost between $2.3 billion and $2.7 billion, and have improved stealth and surveillance capabilities.
Officials also identified the USS California as another Virginia-class sub destined for Pearl Harbor.
Recognizing the importance of the Asia-Pacific region and the increased threat from foreign-nation subs in the Pacific, the Pentagon in 2006 mandated that 60 percent of the Navys submarines be home-ported in the Pacific by the end of 2010.
With the North Carolina's arrival, 32 of the Navys 53 fast-attack submarines will be based in the Pacific, with 19 of those at Pearl Harbor.
Most of the submarines in Hawaiçi are older Los Angeles-class attack subs.
The state-of-the-art North Carolina is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, irregular warfare, and mine warfare.
North Carolina will join USS Hawaii and USS Texas at Submarine Squadron One. North Carolinas keel was laid on May 22, 2004 and the submarines official commissioning ceremony was held on May 3, 2008.
Measuring 377 feet long, weighing 7,800 tons when submerged and with a complement of more than 130 crewmembers, North Carolina is the fifth ship to be named in honor of the Tar Heel State, the Navy said.