U.S. Navy Names Two New Subs in Honor of WWII Heroes

File image courtesy USN

Published Dec 24, 2019 5:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Navy will name its two newest Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines after the lost battleships USS Oklahoma and USS Arizona, bringing two hallowed names back into active-duty service after more than three-quarters of a century. The naming is intended to honor the sailors of the Greatest Generation who lost their lives in the Pearl Harbor attack. 

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly announced his decision to name submarines SSN-802 and SSN-803 after USS Okhaloma and USS Arizona on Monday. 

“I am honored and humbled to name the next two Virginia-class nuclear fast-attack submarines to be built as the USS Oklahoma and the USS Arizona," Modly said. "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 (BB-39) and the 429 more in USS Oklahoma (BB-37) in Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941."

Generations of Americans have visited the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Oahu, Hawaii, a national park dedicated to the remembrance of the sailors aboard USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma and USS Utah. The site commemorates the history of World War II in the Pacific from the events leading to the December 7, 1941, attack to peace and reconciliation, and it honors the thousands of Americans who served and died that day. About 1.8 million people attend the park every year. 

“Truly, there is no greater honor I can think of for the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the nation than to build and commission into active service two state-of-the-art American warships 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," Modly said.

The future USS Oklahoma and USS Arizona are being built at General Dynamics Electric Boat. They are the first Block V Virginia-class attack submarines, and they are designed with enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements. 

All Block V subs will be built with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), which adds four more large-diameter payload tubes in a new 84-foot hull section inserted amidships. The VPM will boost missile strike capacity by more than 230 percent per ship.