The Navy will name the first two Block V Virginia-class attack submarines in honor of the crews of a pair of battleships forever enshrined in the memory of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announced Monday the two submarines will be named USS Oklahoma (SSN-802) and USS Arizona (SSN-803).
“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,” Modly said in a statement.
On that morning, the first group of Japanese torpedo bombers attacked the port sides of battleships moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor.
Eight torpedoes hit Oklahoma’s port side. In less than 12 minutes, the battleship rolled over until its masts touched the harbor’s bottom, trapping hundreds of men inside and under the water, according to the National Park Service’s Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
In the first few minutes of the attack, multiple torpedoes also hit Arizona. A bomb penetrated Arizona’s armored deck near the ammunition magazines in the forward section of the ship, causing a massive explosion that killed 1,177 sailors and Marines on board, according to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
“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’s statement continued.
Earlier this month, the Navy awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat and major subcontractor Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding a $22.2-billion multi-year procurement contract for fiscal years 2019 through 2023 to build Block V submarines.
All nine Block V submarines covered by the contract will include acoustic superiority enhancements, and eight will have a Virginia Payload Module that adds in 28 Tomahawk missile tubes. The contract includes an option to build a tenth that would include both upgrades, which if exercised would bring the total contract value to more than $24 billion.
“The future USS Oklahoma will serve our country, protecting our shores and allies while also honoring the contributions of all Oklahomans to our nation,” said a statement from Sen. James Inhofe, (R-Okla.). “I am proud to note the future USS Oklahoma with the designation SSN-802 will be the 29th Virginia-class fast attack submarine and the first in the Block V configuration. Block V submarines will include the latest advances in acoustic superiority and lethality that will be critical to implementing the National Defense Strategy and maintaining our nation’s undersea dominance.”