Schiff Calls for a Submarine to be Named the U.S.S. California

Washington, D.C. – This week, Congressman Adam Schiff authored a bipartisan letter cosigned by twenty-four of his California Congressional colleagues to Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Mullen requesting that a new Virginia-class attack submarine be named the U.S.S. California.  There are currently two Virginia-class attack submarines that have been ordered, but have yet to be named.  The last naval ship to be named after California was retired in 1999.  

“Ships named after California have a long proud tradition of serving our country, and I would like to see that tradition continued,” Schiff said. “California is host to one of only six submarine bases in the country, so it is only fitting to have a sub in the fleet named after our great state.”
The text of the letter is below.

December 11, 2006

The Honorable Donald C. Winter 
Secretary of the Navy 
100 Navy Pentagon  
Washington, D.C.  20350           

Admiral Michael Mullen
Chief of Naval Operations
2000 Navy Pentagon 
Washington, D.C. 20350          

Dear Mr. Secretary and Admiral Mullen:

We respectfully request that you name one of the new Virginia-class attack submarines the U.S.S. California.  The Virginia-class submarines SSN-780 and SSN-781 have been ordered, with delivery expected 2011 and 2013 respectively, but have not yet been named.  As there is currently no vessel in the United States Navy named for the nation’s most populous state, we ask that you honor our state by giving one of the two ships the historic and appropriate name – the U.S.S. California.  To have a newly commissioned warship named for their state would be a wonderful tribute to the thousands of Californians proudly serving in the United States Armed Forces, as well as the millions of Californians who have served their country in the past.
Previous ships bearing the U.S.S. California name have a long and storied history.  The first U.S.S. California, a screw propelled frigate, was christened in 1869.  In 1941, the U.S.S. California (BB-44) was the flagship of the U.S. Pacific fleet stationed in Pearl Harbor.  She was badly damaged by Japanese torpedoes, and partially sunk.  Three crewmen serving aboard the battleship that day were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for acts of bravery in saving the lives of their shipmates.  A few months later, the California was salvaged and repaired, and served in the Pacific Theater during the final two years of World War II.  She was present at several crucial battles in the Pacific theater, including the Battle of Surigao Strait – the last naval engagement fought by opposing battleships.

The most recent U.S.S. California (CGN-36) was the lead ship of her class of nuclear-powered guided missile cruisers.  The “Golden Grizzly,” as she was known in recognition of the grizzly bear on the California State Flag, was a vital part of the U.S. fleet from her launch in 1971 to her retirement in 1999.
California is a state with a long naval history, and today Naval Base San Diego is home to the Third Fleet.  It would be a great honor to all Californians if the storied history of the ships named for the state of California were augmented by naming a sophisticated Virginia-class submarine – which will be the staple of the United States submarine fleet for years to come – for our wonderful state.