The Navy’s two next Virginia-class fast-attack submarines will be named in honor of the crews of two battleships sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor nearly eight decades ago.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly announced the decision to name the boats after the battleships Arizona and Oklahoma Monday.

This is the first time since the Dec. 7, 1941 raid that the Navy will put boats with those names into active service, though there is currently a Los Angeles-class attack submarine bearing the name Oklahoma City.

“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," Modly said in a statement.

More than 1,100 crew on the Arizona died during the Pearl Harbor attack and many remain entombed in the battleship’s submerged wreckage.

Another 477 crew members from the Oklahoma were lost.

More than 2,400 Americans — including Marines, soldiers and civilians — died in the assault, which plunged the United States into War World II.

The majority of the Pearl Harbor dead — 2,008 — were sailors. Several hundred others were wounded.

The new submarine Oklahoma, SSN-802, is already under construction at General Dynamics Electric Boat, which was awarded the Navy’s largest ever shipbuilding contract earlier this month.

Courtney Mabeus-Brown is the senior reporter at Air Force Times. She is an award-winning journalist who previously covered the military for Navy Times and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and more.

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