Pearl Harbor may best be known to civilians for its place in American history, but not everything about the iconic naval base is rooted in the past. The USS Arizona Memorial is the iconic face of December 7, 1941, and while it continues to draw travelers from all over the globe to honor those lost in the attack over 75 years ago, Pearl Harbor has always been—and continues to be—an active base of the US Navy.

Since the end of World War II, the base has welcomed a host of new vessels and in 2017 is expected to welcome its fifth Virginia-class submarine, the USS Illinois (SSN-786).

Welcoming the USS Illinois

Pearl Harbor has been home to some of America’s most iconic vessels, the USS Oklahoma, Utah, the Bowfin submarine, and, of course, the Battleship Missouri. Soon, the Illinois will join that list of American warships. More than just another submarine to join the ranks of those already moored at Pearl Harbor, the Illinois will be the first Virginia-class Block III submarine to be stationed in Hawaii.

As a Virginia-class, the USS Illinois is capable of diving to a depth of more than 800 feet while maintaining a speed of 25 knots. When it comes to payload, the Illinois is equipped with two 87-inch payload tubes that can hold six Tomahawk missiles; the submarine can also carry advanced mobile mines and unmanned underwater vehicles. In conflicts, she would be a vital asset to the US Navy, and Pearl Harbor is more than proud to house her.

Michelle Obama at the commissioning ceremony of USS Illinois

Michelle Obama at the commissioning ceremony of USS Illinois (SSN-786)

Prior to her scheduled arrival at Pearl Harbor, the Illinois must complete a final shakedown, where any deficiencies will be corrected for optimal performance in the future. Prior to her shakedown, the Illinois was commissioned into the navy on October 29th, 2016 during a ceremony at the Naval Submarine Base in New London. The commissioning ceremony was honored by the presence of then-First Lady Michelle Obama, the vessel’s sponsor.

The commissioning came just over two years after construction began and almost exactly one year after she was christened during an October 10th, 2015 ceremony. Illinois is crewed by approximately 132 sailors, typically 15 officers and 117 enlisted members. When she reaches Pearl Harbor, the Illinois will begin preparations for her maiden deployment.

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