Navy Secretary Ray Mabus made two stops on a ship-naming tour Wednesday to announce the Navy's two newest fast-attack submarines in their namesake states.

In two ceremonies, Mabus unveiled the Virginia-class submarines Montana and Iowa, designated SSN 794 and SSN 797 respectively, according to a Navy release.

He made his first stop Tuesday morning in Billings, Montana's capital. The sub Montana is the second Navy vessel to have the name, following a 1908 cruiser that transported supplies until the beginning of World War I, the release said.

Since then, no ship has been named Montana, though there have been attempts. Montana is also the only state not to have a battleship named after it.

The original battleship Montana's keel was laid in 1918, but the post-WWI Washington Naval Treaty limited the size of America's fleet and construction on BB 51 canceled.

In 1940 the Navy authorized the Montana-class battleships, with a flagship designated BB 67. Those plans were also scrapped, however, when a push toward more aircraft carriers, amphibious ships and anti-submarine vessels led to a cancellation of the Montana class, the release said.

Next stop for Mabus was Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, where he unveiled the fourth USS Iowa.

The name dates all the way back to a 3,200 ton gunboat commissioned in 1864. The second, commissioned in 1897, was best known for initially spotting Spanish ships off the coast of Cuba and firing the first shot of the Spanish American War's Battle of Santiago, the release said.

Next came the 1943 battleship BB 61, which earned 11 battle stars in all, for campaigns from the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Rota, Okinawa and the Philippines in World War II, as well as North Korean during the Korean War.

Montana and Iowa are the 23rd and 24th members of the Virginia class, which is scheduled to total about 28, according to the Navy's Virginia class statistics.

The subs weigh in at 7,800 tons and 377 feet in length, with a 34-foot beam and top speeds above 25 knots when submerged. They reactors also don't require refueling during their planned lifetimes, according to the release.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT

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