QUONSET POINT, RI – General Dynamics Electric Boat held a keel laying ceremony for the first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, USS District of Columbia (SSBN 826) at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, on 4 June.
The keel laying is an event in which the initials of the boat’s sponsor are welded onto a plate attached to the submarine, signifying a major milestone in the construction of a boat.
District of Colombia is the first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine built in the minimum 12-ship class, which will replace the existing 14 Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines that are scheduled to begin retiring from service in 2027.
Admiral Daryl Caudle, commander of US Fleet Force Command, underscored the importance of ballistic missile submarines as the most resilient branch of the US military’s nuclear triad.
“As every ballistic missile submarine has done since the keel of the USS George Washington (SSBN 598) was laid here at Electric Boat in November 1958 – the District of Columbia, and all of her class will continue to serve as the most surviving leg of the nuclear triad – which constantly watches far below the waves, as we have for more than 63 years – a powerful deterrent against those who would seek to do the unspeakable,” said Caudle .
Caudle also spoke of the laying of the District of Columbia keel as a historic opportunity to secure freedom and the way of life for Americans for the foreseeable future.
“Laying the keel of the future USS District of Columbia is truly an historic occasion – not only for the countless designers, welders, steelworkers, electricians and master craftsmen whose unparalleled expertise, ingenuity, hard work and dedication will bring this modern marvel to life – but for the future sailors who will prowl deep within its hull, protecting our nation, deterring strategic attacks, and securing our freedom and our way of life for decades to come,” said Caudle.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, the event’s keynote speaker, echoed Caudle’s sentiment on the importance of the Columbia-class being the largest, most capable, and most advanced submarine produced by the United States as an insurance policy.
“As Admiral Caudle explained, the Columbia class will be the cornerstone of our strategic deterrence, the ultimate guarantor of our national security,” Del Toro said. “Our strategic submarines represent approximately 70% of the nuclear arsenal deployed in the United States.”
Del Toro continued to talk about the need to modernize our submarine force to keep the world safe and secure.
“Potential adversaries know the silent service is on patrol right now, but they don’t know where and it protects us all,” Del Toro said. “The venerable Ohio class that has protected us for decades is approaching the end of its lifespan. For the safety of our sailors and the security of our world, we must modernize our fleet and our command, control and nuclear communications.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), the ship’s sponsor and a delegate to the House of Representatives for the ship’s name, the District of Columbia, attended the ceremony. His initials were welded onto a plate by electric boat welder Maria Betance-Pizarro. “As a third-generation Washingtonian, I am thrilled and honored to be a sponsor of the future USS Columbia,” Norton said. “I look forward to meeting and building relationships with the men and women who will serve aboard her.”
The United States Navy, alongside Electric Boat, began concept studies for Columbia in 2007 as a replacement for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The Columbia class will carry 16 missiles each, which in total represents about 70% of the American nuclear triad.
The Columbia-class remains the Navy’s number one acquisition priority and is expected to see its first delivery in 2027. The transition of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines to the new Columbia-class will provide continued strategic deterrence at sea in the 2080s. .
At 560 feet long and displacing 20,810 tons, the Columbia will be the largest submarine ever built by the United States. Its reactor will not require refueling for the life of the planned service, making the ship more cost effective to operate and maximizing its deployment time. . In addition to its complement of missiles, the submarine will be armed with Mk 48 torpedoes and will feature superior acoustic performance and state-of-the-art sensors to make it the most capable and quietest submarine ever built.
The Submarine Force carries out the mission of the Department of the Navy in and from the submarine realm. In addition to giving additional capability to naval forces, the submarine force, in particular, should take advantage of the special advantages that come with submarine concealment to enable operational, deterrent and combat effects that the navy and nation cannot. could not get otherwise.
The submarine force and supporting organizations constitute the main submarine arm of the navy. Submarines and their crews remain the tip of the underwater spear.
Learn more about the keel laying tradition and other important moments in the life of US Navy ships here: https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Team-Ships/Shipbuilding-101 /