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Navy to commission sub as USS Arizona — first warship to bear name since Pearl Harbor

A new warship will soon be commissioned as the USS Arizona, the first U.S. Navy vessel to bear that name since the namesake battleship was sunk at Pearl Harbor in 1941, officials announced Monday.

The new Arizona will be a Virginia-class fast-attack nuclear submarine, one of nine new nuclear subs planned for the Navy.

The Arizona will be joined by another planned sub, the USS Oklahoma, named after another ship destroyed in the Japanese attack on the Hawaiian naval base on Dec. 7, 1941.

The wreckage of the sunken Arizona, still leaking droplets of oil, has been left at the bottom of the harbor as a memorial for those who died in the attack. Some 1,177 members of the Arizona's crew, and 429 on the Oklahoma, were killed.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly announced the decision to bring those "hallowed names back into active-duty service" with the next two submarines, SSN-802 and SSN-803, on Monday.

"It is my fondest wish that the citizens of the great states of Arizona and Oklahoma will understand and celebrate our Navy's desire to memorialize the 1,177 heroes who perished in USS Arizona (BB-39) and the 429 more in USS Oklahoma (BB-37) in Pearl Harbor, on Dec. 7, 1941," he said in a news release.

"Truly, there is no greater honor I can think of for the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the nation than to build and commission into active service two state-of-the-art American warships carrying the spirit of those heroes of the Greatest Generation, as well as that of their families and the Grand Canyon and Sooner states as they sail through a new American maritime century," he said.

Gov. Doug Ducey said the announcement was "a proud day for Arizona."

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"This name holds special meaning for our country and its history. Today, that legacy begins a new chapter," he said in a news release. "The commissioning of a new warship named Arizona honors our past—including those who have given their lives in service to our country—and our future and recognizes Arizona's important contributions to our nation and its defense."

The pair of submarines are part of a $22-billion deal for the construction of nine new nuclear submarines. The vessels are expected to join the fleet within the next decade.

Another fast-attack submarine is named the USS Tucson. It is the second U.S. Navy vessel to be named after the city. The Atlanta-class light cruiser USS Tucson, with a crew of 688, saw action during the final six weeks of the war in Pacific during World War II.

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A U.S. Navy illustration of the planned USS Arizona.