Pearl Harbor to welcome 2nd USS Missouri when the Virginia-class submarine arrives
By WILLIAM COLE | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: January 25, 2018
HONOLULU (Tribune News Service) — Pearl Harbor soon will have two warships named USS Missouri.
The Navy said the attack submarine USS Missouri will arrive Friday to become the sixth highly capable and much-coveted Virginia-class submarine based in Hawaii — the only location for Virginia subs in the Pacific.
The 377-foot submarine has 140 crew members whose families began arriving in Hawaii in November, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet said.
On Friday afternoon, the submarine USS Missouri will pass the battleship Missouri, now a memorial and museum, and render honors, the Navy said.
The battleship Missouri, moored bow-to-bow with the sunken USS Arizona, fought in World War II, the Korean War and Persian Gulf War.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Adm. Chester Nimitz were on the Missouri’s teak decks for Japan’s surrender to the United States on Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay. In Operation Desert Storm in early 1991, the Missouri launched 27 Tomahawk cruise missiles and hurled 305 shells at Iraqi forces from its 16-inch guns.
The submarine USS Missouri is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the “show-me” state, the Navy said.
Pearl Harbor has about 20 Los Angeles and Virginia attack subs — the largest U.S. concentration in the Pacific. In November Hawaii received its fifth Virginia sub — the $2.7 billion USS Illinois.
“I know the 7th Fleet (in the Western Pacific) loves when we send them our submarines,” Rear Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander of the Pacific Fleet submarine force, said when the Illinois arrived. “They do incredible missions over there against all of the adversaries that they face in those waters.”
Illinois was and still is the only “Block III” type Virginia sub in Hawaii with two “six-shooter” 87-inch Virginia payload tubes, each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles from removable canisters mounted in the bow.
The five other Virginia subs in Hawaii — USS Hawaii, USS Texas, USS North Carolina, USS Mississippi and soon, USS Missouri, have 12 individual 21-inch diameter vertical launch tubes and four torpedo tubes. The subs also carry Mk-48 torpedoes and harpoon missiles.
Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command on Oahu, last April complained that the Navy is reducing its attack submarine force to 42 from 52 in coming years with retirement of older Los Angeles-class attack submarines. Virginia subs are not being built fast enough for a 1-for-1 replacement.
“From a joint commander perspective, I need more submarines,” Harris told the House Armed Services Committee.
Harris said the submarine force deals with “the Russian submarine threat, the Chinese submarine threat, and they’re also involved in surveillance missions and other kinds of missions.”
About 230 of the world’s 400 foreign submarines are in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, with about 160 of those belonging to China, Russia and North Korea, Harris said. Potential adversary submarine activity has tripled since 2008, he said.
Virginia-class subs can dive to more than 800 feet and operate at more than 29 mph submerged. The subs have improvements to operate in littoral, or nearshore, environments and can accommodate special operators in a reconfigurable torpedo room. Traditional periscopes have been replaced by two photonic masts with infrared and digital cameras atop telescoping arms.
The Missouri was commissioned in 2010. It returned to Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., on Oct. 4 following a Europe deployment.
Missouri sailed 40,277 miles and conducted port visits to Haakonsvern, Norway, and Faslane, Scotland.