Nearly 80 years after its namesake was sunk, the Navy is getting a new USS Arizona.
Thomas Modly, the acting secretary of the Navy announced Monday that its two newest Virginia-class attack nuclear submarines will be named after two battle cruisers that were destroyed when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. The other is the USS Oklahoma.
“It is my fondest wish that the citizens of the great states of Arizona and Oklahoma will understand and celebrate our Navy’s desire to memorialize the 1,177 heroes who perished in USS Arizona and the 429 more in USS Oklahoma,” Modly said in a prepared statement. He said the new ships will be “carrying the spirit of those heroes of the Greatest Generation as well as that of their families and the Grand Canyon and Sooner states as they sail through a new American maritime century.”
According to the Navy, the Virginia-class submarines are the latest generation of of attack submarines, replacing Los Angeles class subs, built for the Cold War, as they are retired.
Among the improvements are a fly-by-wire ship control that provides improved shallow-water handling, with enhanced ability to operate in coastal waters.
Traditional periscopes have been replaced by two masts that have visible and infrared digital cameras on top. That also means that the control room need not be at the top of the boat – in the curved section – providing more area.
The first Virginia-class sub, aptly named the USS Virginia, was put into service in 2004. The Navy currently operates 18 Virginia class subs with a length of 377 feet, speed of more than 25 knots and a crew of 15 officers and 117 enlisted personnel.
Gov. Doug Ducey, reacting to the announcement, said the ship and name “hold special meaning for our country, its history and the people of Arizona.”
“The commissioning of a new warship named Arizona honors our past, including those who have given their lives in service to our country, and our future and recognizes Arizona’s important contributions to our nation and its defense.”
The naming of two of the new subs after Arizona and Oklahoma is far from unique. According to Navy records, other than the 18 already in operations there are nine others under various stages of construction.
Monday’s announcement comes weeks after the Navy awarded a $22.2 billion contract for nine new updated versions, with an option for a 10th submarine.
According to Military.com, the new Virginia-class subs will have a hull length of 460 feet, compared with 377 feet for the current crop of Virginia-class boats. That includes an additional 84-foot-long section with four vertical launch tubes for storing and launching additional Tomahawk cruise missiles and underwater unmanned vehicles.