With each passing year, soldiers and scientists are working together toward the next wartime evolution. It isn’t an exact science, and it’s not simply building a bigger bomb or better bullet. Many of the advances made for military applications are lifesaving ones. As part of their mission to defend, however, the military’s advances also come along with more effective tactics and weaponry. The Virginia class submarines, which first came about at the end of the 1990s, are no exception.
So far, Virginia class submarines include the USS Virginia, USS Texas, USS Hawaii, USS North Carolina, USS New Hampshire, USS New Mexico, USS Missouri, USS California, USS Mississippi, and USS Minnesota. Of those, only the first four are in service. The USS Virginia and the USS Hawaii are due to be stationed in Pearl Harbor sometime during 2009. Hawaii will receive the USS North Carolina sometime after that.
There are several enhancements to this style sub over previous designs. The style is called post-Cold War and puts more of an emphasis on special forces than on nuclear firepower. Virginia class subs such as the USS Hawaii will include torpedo room that can be converted to carry Navy SEALs as well as a deck area that can be converted to a dry deck for SEAL purposes. The USS Hawaii and similar ships will also be equipped with Tomahawk land-attack missiles, Mark-48 advanced capability missiles, 12 VLS (or, Vertical Launching Systems), four torpedo tubes, advanced mobile mines, and a host of unmanned undersea vehicles.
Having this most advanced submarine named after their state has brought pride to many Hawaiians, who will get a chance to see the ship in their native waters sometime in 2009. It is unlikely that there will be tours, as the warship is in active duty, but there will most likely be a docking/landing/homecoming ceremony, which will undoubtedly borrow from the rich island traditions of Hawaii as all the ship’s ceremonies do.