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SSN 776 Hawaii

The attack submarine Hawaii was christened on June 17, 2006 during a ceremony at General Dynamics Electric Boat, Groton, Conn. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii delivered the ceremony's principal address while Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle served as sponsor of SSN 776, the state's namesake submarine.

In April 2000, the Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig and Senator Daniel Akaka from Hawaii, unveiled the image of the third Virginia-Class submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776). The ceremony was held at Bowfin Submarine Memorial Park, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the brink of the U.S. Navy's submarine centennial.

The submarine was named to recognize the tremendous support the Navy has enjoyed from the people and state of Hawaii, and in honor of the rich heritage of submarines in the Pacific. USS Hawaii, which will be 377 feet in length and displace over 7,800 tons when submerged, has a crew of 134 men.

USS Hawaii was projected to be commissioned in January 2007. Hawaii finally commissioned on 05 May 2007.


Hawaii has been home to the first Pacific Fleet submarines since the early 1900s. In 1887, the Navy received exclusive rights to "Wai Momi," meaning "water of pearl" when the Hawaiian monarch, King David Kalakaua, signed a treaty to allow a coaling station and repair facility at the harbor thanks to it's key strategic location. It wasn't until the Appropriations Act of May 13, 1908 that the Navy was authorized to build a Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.

The interest of the United States Government in the Sandwich Islands followed the adventurous voyages of its whaling and trading ships in the Pacific. As early as 1820, an "Agent of the United States for Commerce and Seamen" was appointed to look after American business in the Port of Honolulu. With the cementing of commercial ties with the American continent, another factor to be considered was the endeavors of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. This was particularly true when the American missionaries and their families became an integral part of the Hawaiian body politic.

With the exception of a few unfortunate episodes, American prestige tended to increase in the islands. One of these was the affair of Lieut. John Percival in 1826 which illustrates some of the high-handed tactics of that time. When his ship, the USS Dolphin, had arrived in Honolulu and ordinance had just been passed, inspired by the missionaries, placing restrictions on the sale of alcoholic liquors and the taking of women aboard vessels in the Honolulu Harbor. Lieut. Percival and members of his crew felt that the new vice laws were unfair and with more than a mere threat of force had them rescinded. This act, it must be said, was later renounced by the United States and resulted in the sending of an envoy to King Kauikeaouli. When Captain Thomas A.P. Catesby Jones arrived, in command of the USS Peacock, he was the first naval officer to visit Hawaii armed with instructions to discuss international affairs with the Hawaii King and Chiefs, and to conclude a trade treaty.

In spite of the Percival incident, American influence in the islands was steadily increasing. Throughout the twenties and thirties of the Nineteenth Century, many American warships visited Honolulu. In most cases the commanding officers carried letters with them from the U.S. Government; all sympathetically friendly toward the Hawaiian sovereign and, as a rule, giving advice concerning the conduct of governmental affairs and of the relations of the island nation with foreign powers. In 1841, the weekly periodical, Polynesian, printed in Honolulu, advocated editorially that the U.S. establish a naval base in Hawaii. Its pretext was the protection of the interest of American citizens engaged in the whaling industry. The pro-British Hawaiian minister, R.C. Wyllie, remarked in 1840 that ". . . my opinion is that the tide of events rushes on to annexation to the United States." This trend was in no way hampered by the over-anxious endeavors of the English and the French governments to gain favorable trade concessions in the islands. On 13 February 1843, Lord George Paulet, of HMS Garysfort, attempted to annex the islands for alleged insults and malpractices against British subjects. Although an American warship, the USS Boston, was in the harbor at the time, its commanding officer did not protest this threatened use of violence. Official protest was made a few days later, however, by Commodore Kearney of the USS Constellation. Fortunately, before the matter became an international incident, the actions of Lord Paulet were disallowed by Lord Aberdeen in London. The results of this affair led to the formulation of a self-denying declaration by France and Britain to any act interfering with the Sandwich Islands as an independent state. The United States, although invited to become a member of this concert of nations, declined to take part in the convention because the time had not arrived for her "to depart from the principle by virtue of which they had always kept their foreign policy independent of foreign powers."

As a result of the gesture of Lord George Paulet to annex the islands to Great Britain in 1843, Dr. C.P. Judd, the Hawaiian Minister of Foreign Affairs took advantage of the presence of the U.S. Frigate Constitution in Hawaiian waters in 1845 and requested Lieut. F.W. Curtis, a young American Marine Officer, to survey the situation and make some recommendations as to the best practicable method of fortifying Honolulu against further foreign aggression. This investigation was made secretly and Lieut. Curtis communicated his conclusions to Dr. Judd after the departure of the Constitution in the form of a letter written from Mazatlan, Mexico on 21 February 1846. His report makes the first reference to the military potentiality of Pearl Harbor as offering "perfect security."

When France commenced her agitations for special concessions in the 1850's, the King, under the influence of his American advisors, drew up a deed of cessation to the United States. The commanding officer of the USS Vandalia had his ship stand by to prevent the intervention of any foreign power during the interim before Washington's reply. With the death of the king, the retirement of the French forces, and the foreign policy of the Fillmore administration, the cessation idea fell into discard. The Navy Department received orders, however, to keep the naval armament of the U.S. in the Pacific to guarantee the safety of the Hawaiian Government.

With the conclusion of the Civil War, the purchase of Alaska, the increased importance of the Pacific states, the projected trade with the Orient and the desire for a duty free market for Hawaiian staples, the islands were irresistibly drawn into the centripetal whirlpool of expansion. In 1865, the North Pacific Squadron was formed to embrace the western coast and the Sandwich Islands. The USS Lackawanna in the following year was assigned the task of cruising among the islands, "a locality of great and increasing interest and importance." This vessel surveyed the islands and reefs, northwest of the Sandwich Islands toward Japan. It was as a result of these surveys that the United States established its claims to Midway. The Secretary of the Navy was able to write in his annual report of 1868, that in November, 1867, forty-two American flags flew over whaleships and merchant vessels in Honolulu to only six foreign flags. This increased activity caused the permanent assignment of at least one warship to Hawaiian waters. This same report praised the possibilities of Brooks, or Midway Island, which had been discovered in 1858, as possessing a harbor surpassing that of Honolulu. In the following year, Congress approved an appropriation of $50,000 on 1 March 1869, to deepen the approaches to this harbor.

Since 1868, when the Commander of the Pacific Fleet visited the islands to look after "American interests," naval officers have played an important role in internal affairs. They served as arbitrators in business disputes, negotiators of trade agreements and defenders of law and order. Periodic voyages among the islands and to the mainland aboard U.S. warships were arranged for members of the Royal family and important island government officials. When King Lunalilo died in 1873, negotiations were underway for the cessation of Pearl Harbor as a port for the exportation of sugar to the U.S. duty free. With the election of a new king, King Kalakaua in March, 1874, anti-American factions helped to precipitate a number of riots which were regarded as sufficiently disturbing to have bluejackets landed from the USS Tuscorora and the USS Portsmouth. The British warship, HMS Tenedos, also, landed a token force. It was during the reign of King Kalakaua that the United States was granted exclusive rights to enter Pearl Harbor and to establish "a coaling and repair station."

King Lunalilo was petitioned by the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce in February 1873 to negotiate a reciprocal treaty with the U.S., and in this resolution the suggestion was made that the Pearl River lagoon be offered to the U.S. as an inducement. After due consideration, The King conveyed to the U.S. Minister resident at Honolulu, through his Minister of Foreign Affairs, the original treaty proposal in which was included the cession of the Pearl River lagoon; and on 7 July 1873, the American Minister notified his government at Washington that the King had offered to negotiate a treaty on that basis. Four months later, the Hawaiian Gazette of 14 November 1873 printed a "By Authority" notice to the effect that the King was satisfied that a treaty carrying with it the cession of Pearl Harbor would not receive the legislative approval required by the Constitution of the Kingdom and hence had withdraw that feature of his offer. The editorial appearing in the Hawaiian Gazette of that date endeavors to explain that the original Pearl Harbor proposal had been for a lease and not a cession of territory. Much capital was made of the proposal to excite the Hawaiians to opposition.

After the death of Lunalilo and the election of Kalakaua as king, he proceeded to Washington, and there, it is conceded by some writers of the time, it was the King's personality which was largely responsible for the final consummation of the original reciprocity treaty in 1875. The financial benefits of this treaty to the agricultural interests of the islands were so great that the best interests in Hawaii were keenly alive to the importance of securing an extension of the treaty beyond its definite term of seven years. Due to opposition on the mainland, this extension was not secured for a number of years; but finally, on 20 January 1887, the U.S. Senate in secret session modified the convention providing for the extension of the treaty, after adding an amendment as clause II, providing that "His Majesty the King of the Hawaiian Islands, grants to the Government of the U.S. the exclusive right to enter the harbor of Pearl River, in the Island of Oahu, and to establish and maintain there a coaling and repair station for the use of vessels of the U.S. and to that end the U.S may improve the entrance to said harbor and do all things useful to the purpose aforesaid." This treaty was ratified by the Hawaiian Senate and signed by the King on 29 October 1887.

The treaty had scarcely been proclaimed when a note was handed to the Secretary of State in Washington by the British Ambassador in which the attention of the U.S. Government was called to the Franco-English Compact of 1843 by which those two nations agreed never to take possession of the Hawaiian Island "either directly or under the title of a protectorate;" and suggesting a triple compact in which the U.S. should join, guaranteeing the neutrality and equal accessibility of the islands and their harbors to the ships of all nations, without preference. The British Commissioner at Honolulu simultaneously delivered a note of formal protest against a grant to the U.S. of the exclusive use of Pearl Harbor as a coaling and repair station.

While this treaty continued in force until August 1898, no advantage was taken by the U.S. Government of the opportunity to fortify or use Pearl Harbor as a naval base. The shallow entrance constituted a formidable barrier against the use of the deep protected waters of the inner harbor as definitely in the nineties as in the thirties.

In 1898, as the U.S. attempted to transport troops, livestock and equipment to the Philippines, the importance of the islands as a depot or reshipping point became obvious. Annexation was approved on 6 July 1898, and on 12 August 1898, the U.S. flag was run up over the palace. Within a month Commander Z.L. Tanner was given orders to proceed to Honolulu for temporary duty to prepare planes for wharves, coal sheds, and warehouses for naval purposes. He was also instructed to make a survey of Pearl Harbor which might be utilized "sometime in the future." Contracts were let this same year for increasing the capacity of the coal sheds from 1,000 to 20,000 tons and the construction of two piers. The Presidential proclamation of November 1898, reserved certain land in Honolulu and Hawaii for naval purposes and coal sheds.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:01:17 ZULU