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Construction begins on new USS Utah nuclear submarine

SALT LAKE CITY — The Rocky Mountains aren’t exactly close to the coast, but that doesn’t mean the Beehive State can’t be well represented in the U.S. Navy.

A ship named for Utah hasn’t been around since the USS Utah battleship was lost on Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor — but that’s about to change.

Construction began Wednesday on the new USS Utah submarine, also known as the SSN 801 — tying together the state’s primary area code along with the Navy’s nuclear sub designation.

Wednesday’s keel-laying ceremony means construction has officially started back in Connecticut.

The USS Utah has a lot of work before it can be christened next fall and join the fleet in fall 2023.

Of course, the most well-known ship named after the beautiful Beehive State was the ill-fated USS Utah, which was hit by torpedoes and sunk with 58 men on board at Pearl Harbor.

“Today the hull of Utah remains at Pearl Harbor as a memorial to the 58 officers and crew who lost their lives that day. May the spirit of those brave souls guide the future crew of the second USS Utah, whose keel-laying today celebrates the ceremonial birth of the ship,” Electric Boat President Kevin Graney said during his remarks Wednesday.

The remains are still visible in the Hawaiian waters, and it stands as a memorial to those who were lost. The ship was never salvaged and remains where it sank in Pearl Harbor.

Four of the 58 men were buried on land, but 54 are still entombed inside the ship.

Another ship with ties to Utah, the USS Ogden was also destroyed — but it was part of a gunnery exercise after the ship was decommissioned in 2007.

And as the Ogden sank, so did the hopes of having any Naval vessels named after Utah.

The last submarine with a Utah name was the USS Salt Lake City, which was decommissioned in 2006.

The University of Utah plans to honor that ship with special uniforms when the Utes host Oregon as a part of Military Appreciation Day on Nov. 20.

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And just for a little more history, during World War II, you had the USS Iron County, USS Morgan County, USS Daggett County and the USS Bryce Canyon.

The USS Utah restores a tradition of naming ships for our state and this one is meant to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

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