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Catch a Ride on the Navy's New Fast-Attack Sub

For the first time in nearly 60 years, a Navy warship named North Carolina will be on the sea lanes in early May.

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WILMINGTON, N.C. — WRAL's Richard Adkins caught a ride on one of the U.S. Navy's newest fast-attack nuclear submarines, the future USS North Carolina.

For the first time in nearly 60 years, a Navy warship bearing the state's name will be on the sea lanes after the vessel is commissioned in Wilmington May 3. Her crew will then sail her to Pearl Harbor.

"I absolutely love this ship," said Capt. Mark Davis, who will be the commanding officer of the USS North Carolina.

When she breaks the surface, the fourth Virginia-class submarine to be built is an impressive sight, stretching out 377 feet and displacing more than 7,800 tons.

"With over 2,000 of North Carolina's sons and daughters having joined the Navy and Marine Corps this year and more than 45,000 sailors and marines currently serving in the state, I find it more than fitting to honor this great state and its sons and daughters by naming our newest fast-attack submarine, the 'North Carolina,'" Secretary of the Navy Ricard Danzing said, in a statement on the Submarine Force's Web site.

The North Carolina boasts enhanced stealth and surveillance capabilities and the ability to strike on-shore targets with Tomahawk cruise missiles. She was built to support covert, as well as traditional, naval operations.

Fully staffed, the ship will have a crew of nearly 140 men – and no women, according to Navy policy.

"Submarine life in general is a little more contained that the average job," Electronics Technician 1st Class Carl Lattimore said. "It's close quarters; there's little room to move around and operate."

Garner native and Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Tyler Murray will join Lattimore as one of a half-dozen Tar Heels serving on the North Carolina.

"I like it; it's kind of fun," Murry said. "Some of the work is kind of tedious, and it gets a little overbearing every now and then, (but) I like it."

Davis said submariners have to like the lifestyle. As for him, he loves it.

"I've been doing it for 26 years, and I haven't regretted one single day," Davis said. "It's amazing that they pay us to do this."

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Richard Adkins, Reporter
Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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