US Navy – The Columbia-class submarines (SSBN)

US Navy - The Columbia-class submarines (SSBN)

In June 2022, a small group of military officers and politicians gathered on Quonset Point, Rhode Island, to kick off construction of the Navy’s newest and largest sub group, the Columbia class submarines, with a keel-laying ceremony for the USS District of Columbia. The upcoming Columbia-class (formerly known as the Ohio Replacement Submarine and SSBN-X Future Follow-on Submarine) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines of the United States Navy are designed to replace the Ohio class and to maintain a continuous at-sea strategic deterrence as the current force of 14 Ohio Class SSBNs reach the end of their unprecedented 42 year service life in the late 2020s. Columbia Class is the United States Navy’s Number one acquisition priority.

The Columbia Class SSBN program consists of a minimum of 12 submarines to meet the requirements for U.S. strategic deterrent force structure as set forth in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. The Columbia Class program completed Acquisition Milestone B on January 4, 2017 and is in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase. Construction of the first vessel began on 1 October 2020.It is scheduled to enter service in 2031. On 3 June 2022, the Navy announced that the lead boat of her class will be named USS District of Columbia (SSBN-826), because there is already an attack submarine named USS Columbia (SSN-771). Nevertheless, the Navy has since continued to refer to the class as the Columbia class. The Columbia class is to replace the Ohio class of ballistic missile submarines, whose remaining boats are to be decommissioned, one per year, beginning in 2028. The Columbia class will take over the role of submarine presence in the United States’ strategic nuclear force. When the sub finally enters service in 2031, it will be the largest and most powerful submarine the U.S. has ever put to sea, measuring 560 feet in length and displacing 20,810 tons. It’s one of 12 subs planned in the new Columbia class. Each will carry 16 onboard nuclear missiles, collectively representing 70 percent of the nuclear weapons that America has ready to use at any one time. But last March, confidential information indicated that the main ship of the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program could be delayed by a year due to supplier problems. This situation now jeopardizes the Navy’s main procurement program and creates a potential gap in the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent.

Read more on July 1st, 2024