Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus hosted a ship-naming ceremony today in Ames, Iowa to announce that SSN 797, a Virginia-class attack submarine, will bear the name USS Iowa.
The submarine will be named to honor the history its namesake state has with the Navy. Iowa is home to former Naval Air Station (NAS) Ottumwa, one of a few air training stations created to increase the number of trained pilots in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The future USS Iowa will be the fourth naval vessel to bear the name. The first, a 3,200 ton gunboat, dates back to 1864. The second was commissioned in 1897 and is best known for its initial spotting of Spanish ships off the coast of Cuba and the resulting first shot fired during the Spanish American War's Battle of Santiago. The third Iowa (BB 61) was commissioned in 1943 and earned 11 battle stars - nine for World War II and two for the Korean War - for campaigns in places from the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Rota, Okinawa, the Philippines and North Korea. After returning from combat, Iowa served the remainder of her days running training cruises and operational exercises before being decommissioned in 1958. It was then re-commissioned in 1984 to help expand the size of the Fleet during the Cold War and then decommissioned a final time in 1990.
Virginia-class attack submarines provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. They have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.
These submarines have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert, long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. They are also designed for special forces delivery and support.
Each Virginia-class submarine is 7,800-tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. They are designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time. The submarine will be built under a unique teaming agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) and Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding division wherein both companies build certain portions of each submarine and then alternate deliveries. Iowa will be delivered by GDEB located in Groton, Connecticut.