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The girls of Halau Hula Olana (School of Living Hula) perform a traditional hula dance for the arrival of the
Virginia-class attack submarine USS Hawaii(SSN-776). Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Logico

by Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs Office

USS Hawaii (SSN-776), the first Virginia-class submarine to be home-ported in the Pacific, arrived July 23, 2009, to a warm, local-style welcome at the submarine piers of Naval Station Pearl Harbor that reflected Hawaii’s diverse cultural heritage. The state’s namesake submarine made Hawaii its home during the 50th anniversary of statehood commemoration activities.

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Kahuna Pule Ganotise performs a traditional Hawaiian blessing during an arrival ceremony for
HawaiiJuly 23, 2009. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Hight

More than two hundred people took advantage of the opportunity to view Hawaii from the Ford Island seaplane ramp as the submarine sailed into Pearl Harbor, while many more lined the banks of the Naval Station near Hospital Point and along Hickam Air Force Base. The guest of honor was the ship’s sponsor, Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle. She briefly boarded Hawaii via a small boat prior to the ceremony, greeted the crew, and raised the Hawaii state flag aboard the namesake submarine.

At the Sierra 9 pier, next to Submarine Force Pacific headquarters, family members of the crew and invited guests enjoyed the ceremony preceding the arrival. The ceremony featured a Hawaii Air National Guard flyover and participation by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band and the Kamehameha Alumni Glee Club. Halau Hula Olana Ai performed a hula. Kahuna Pule Ganotise provided a traditional Hawaiian blessing, and Pa Ku‘i a Lua performed a haka. Once the brow was across, the crew debarked into the arms of their loved ones, who had not seen the crew since Hawaii’s departure from Groton, Conn., in May.

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Sailors line topside aboard
Hawaiias she pulls into her new homeport at Naval Station Pearl Harbor. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Stirrup

The Navy League of the United States Honolulu Council hosted a post-ceremony reception for the families and crew of Hawaii at historic Lockwood Hall on the Naval Station. Danny Kaleikini sang the National Anthem and Hawai’i Pono’i. Gov. Lingle, Rear Adm. Douglas McAneny, Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Cmdr. Ed Herrington, Hawaii’s Commanding Officer, addressed the crew, family, and guests.

“Today is a very important beginning for the people of Hawaii, the crew of the fine submarine Hawaii, the Submarine Force, and the U.S. Pacific Fleet,” said Rear Adm. McAneny. “We recognize that without the support of the great people of the state of Hawaii, we cannot succeed day in and day out with the mission our country asks us to do.”

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Members of the Pa Ku’i a Lua perform a traditional Hawaiian Haka during the arrival ceremony for
Hawaii.Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Hight

“Officially today, I welcome you and your families as members of our ohana,” said Gov. Lingle. “I am honored to serve as this ship’s sponsor, and I have been with you every step of your journey home. Today you start a new tradition, while building a more secure future for our country.”

“I know I speak for the officers and crew of Hawaii, when I say, ‘Wow!’” said Cmdr. Herrington. “I felt a little like a rock star today. All the people on the shoreline cheering you along, the Governor coming out on the boat, and the fly-over; it was fantastic.”

Measuring 377 feet long, weighing 7,800 tons when submerged, and with a complement of more than 130 crewmembers, Hawaii is one of the Navy’s newest and most technologically sophisticated submarines. The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike; naval special warfare involving special operations forces; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare.

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Rear Adm. Douglas McAneny, Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet with Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, speak prior to the arrival ceremony for
Hawaii. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Hight

Commissioned May 5, 2007, Hawaii was the third Virginia-class attack submarine constructed and the first submarine to be named after the 50th state. During her maiden deployment, Hawaii became only the second naval submarine in history to receive the U.S. Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Citation for her efforts in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South counter-drug operations. Her crew is excited to represent its namesake state and looks forward to building upon multinational partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region in future Western Pacific deployments.