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SSBN 736 West Virginia

USS WEST VIRGINIA (SSBN 736) is the first submarine and the third U.S. Naval ship to bear the name of this state.

The focal point of the emblem is the outline of the 35th state in the Union. The irregular boundary of WEST VIRGINIA, about 1,170 miles, follows the Potomac River, the Mason Dixon Line, the Ohio River, the Big Sandy River, and the crest of the main ridge of the Alleghenies and the Blue Ridge mountains.

The silent mountaineer represents the first West Virginia pioneers who endured unimaginable horrors in grappling their proud mountainous lands from the French and their Indian allies. The traditional long rifle has been replaced with King Neptune's three-pronged spear, the Trident, the nautical symbol of our nation's third generation (after Polaris and Poseidon) Strategic Submerged Launched Ballistic Missile Program. The silent mountaineer is looking eastward across the majestic West Virginia hills toward the Atlantic Ocean, the natural environment of the USS WEST VIRGINIA (SSBN736), where she silently patrols, helping to maintain our nation's strategic maritime policy.

The submarine is a representation of a Trident class fleet ballistic missile submarine. The motto "Montoni Semper Liberi" was adopted from the State Seal, which emphatically sates "Mountaineers are always free". To quote John Adams, "Posterity, you will never know how much it cost . . . to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it."

The two stars flanking the USS WEST VIRGINIA (SSBN 736) represent the two previous namesake ships, the USS WEST VIRGINIA (ACR-5), later renamed USS HUNTlNGTON (ACR-5), and the USS WEST VIRGINIA (BB 48). The colors blue and gold represent the official colors of the state of West Virginia adopted in its centennial year, and are also representative of the Blue and Gold crews that man this new "Undersea Mountain State Battlewagon.'' The rope signifies the nautical character of the logo and is arranged in a continuum to further emphasize the latin term "Semper", for always or forever.


The first WEST VIRGINIA was Armored Cruiser No. 5 (ACR-5), which was launched on April 18, 1903, at Newport News Shipbuilding Company and commissioned on February 23, 1905. It was built at a cost of four million dollars.

This WEST VIRGINIA went through both name and title changes. In 1916, the cruiser was renamed HUNTINGTON (in honor of the city in West Virginia), so that the state name could be available for a new battleship. HUNTINGTON was later reclassified as a Heavy Cruiser (CA) when the Navy introduced its ship numbering system in 1920.

As Armored Cruiser No. 5, HUNTINGTON contributed to American naval aviation by conducting important experiments with seaplane and balloon launchings. HUNTINGTON had a catapult device and equipment to accommodate four seaplanes and several balloons to aid in these experiments.

After the signing of the Armistice in 1918, HUNTINGTON was temporarily converted to a troop transport, making numerous trans-Atlantic crossings carrying infantrymen home to the States. Reconverted to the status of warship, HUNTINGTON served as flagship of Flying Squadron One until 1920. During that year, the ship was decommissioned and laid up in reserve in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In 1930, HUNTINGTON was struck from the Navy List.

BB 48

The Battleship WEST VIRGINIA (BB-48), the second vessel to bear the name, also bore a number of nicknames such as "Mountaineer Battlewagon'' and "Old Task Force 48." Christened on November 19, 1921, WEST VIRGINIA was commissioned in 1923. This ship was built at a cost of 11.5 million dollars. It was labeled a "super-dreadnought'' because of advances in its naval architecture and design. One of these advances was a three-plane section on its deck and a catapult for launching.

Prior to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, WEST VIRGINIA had been engaged in a schedule of intensive training in the Hawaiian operating area. The battleship was moored alongside the battleship TENNESSEE (BB-43) in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attack began. WEST VIRGINIA took several torpedo and bomb hits; despite many attempts to save the battleship, it sank and settled on the harbor bottom on even keel.

In the spring of 1942, WEST VIRGINIA was refloated. The battleship was brought to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington in 1943 for modernization. In 1944, WEST Virginia was assigned to the U.S. Seventh Fleet where it provided considerable gunfire support in the Philippines in 1944 and 1945. A notable day for the battleship was August 31, 1945; WEST VIRGINIA took the lead of the old battleships entering and anchoring in Tokyo Bay, the capitol of the defeated Japanese.

The ship received five battle stars for service during World War II: Pearl Harbor-Midway, Leyte Operation, Luzon Operation, Iwo Jima Operation, and the Okinawa Operation. WEST VIRGINIA was decommissioned on January 9, 1947, and stricken from the Navy List on March 1, 1959.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:41:04 ZULU