USS District of Columbia

USS District of Columbia
Graphic artist concept (2012)
United States
NameDistrict of Columbia
NamesakeDistrict of Columbia
BuilderGeneral Dynamics Electric Boat
Laid down4 June 2022
Sponsored byEleanor Holmes Norton and Muriel Bowser[1]
StatusUnder construction
General characteristics
Class and typeColumbia-class submarine
Displacement20,810 long tons (21,140 t) (submerged)
Length171 metres (561 ft)
Beam13 metres (43 ft)
PropulsionTurbo-electric drive, pump-jet
Armament16 × Trident D5

USS District of Columbia (SSBN-826) will be the lead boat of the United States Navy's Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines and the Navy's first vessel to be named for the District of Columbia.

On 25 July 2016, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that the new submarine would be named USS Columbia.[2] The Navy already had a USS Columbia (SSN-771), an attack submarine commissioned in 1995, which was expected to retire before the missile submarine was commissioned. But after the Navy decided to prolong the attack sub's service, the new submarine's name was changed to avoid having two active vessels with the same name.[3] On 3 June 2022, the Navy announced that the new submarine would be named USS District of Columbia.[1]

In 2021, construction began on District of Columbia at General Dynamics' Electric Boat facility in Quonset Point, Rhode Island.[4] A keel laying ceremony was held at the shipyard on 4 June 2022.[1] Completion of District of Columbia is scheduled for 2030, followed by her entry into service in 2031.


The 12 ballistic missile submarines of the Columbia class will perform deterrent patrols, the naval leg of the U.S. nuclear triad. They will replace the Ohio class, whose submarines are to be decommissioned, one per year, beginning in 2027.[5] District of Columbia will replace an as-yet-unannounced Ohio.

Design specification and parameters[edit]

In April 2014, the Navy completed a 300-page specification report for the Ohio Replacement Program submarines. There are 159 specifications including weapons, escape routes, fluid systems, hatches, doors, sea water systems, and a set length of 560 ft (170 m) (later confirmed in design specifications), partly to allow for sufficient volume inside the pressure hull.[6]

Electric Boat designed the new class with help from Newport News Shipbuilding.[7] Each submarine, beginning with District of Columbia, will have 16 missile tubes, each carrying one UGM-133 Trident II missile. The submarines will be 560 feet (170.7 m) long and 43 feet (13.1 m) in diameter, as long as the preceding Ohio-class design, and 1 foot (30 cm) larger in diameter.[5] Each Columbia-class nuclear core is designed to last as long as the submarine is in service avoiding the need for nuclear refueling during the vessel's active service life.[8][9]

Costs and procurement[edit]

The design and technology development of the Columbia class is projected to cost $4.2 billion (fiscal 2010 dollars), although technology and components from the Ohio and Virginia classes are to be included where possible, to save money. The cost to build District of Columbia, the lead boat of the class, will be an estimated $6.2 billion (fiscal 2010 dollars).[5] The Navy has a goal of reducing the average cost of the remaining 11 planned hulls in the class to $4.9 billion each (fiscal 2010 dollars).[8] The total lifecycle cost of the entire class is estimated at $347 billion.[8] The high cost of the submarines is expected to cut deeply into Navy shipbuilding.[10] The Navy procured the first Columbia-class boat in FY2021.[11] On 7 June 2021, the U.S. Navy Budget office announced that the total cost for the first submarine, District of Columbia, would reach $15.03 billion, but that also includes planning costs for the entire program.[12]

Implementation and construction[edit]

In March 2016, the U.S. Navy announced that General Dynamics Electric Boat was chosen as the prime contractor and lead design yard.[13] Electric Boat will carry out the majority of the work, on all 12 submarines, including final assembly.[14] All 18 Ohio-class submarines were built at Electric Boat as well.[15] Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding will serve as the main subcontractor, participating in the design and construction and performing 22 to 23 percent of the required work.[16] In late 2016, some 3,000 employees were involved, in Electric Boat alone, in the detailed design phase of the program,[17] with the procurement for the first submarine established in 2021.[5] Completion of District of Columbia is scheduled for 2030, followed by her entry into service in 2031. All 12 submarines are expected to be completed by 2042 and remain in service until 2085.[5][6]


Electric drive[edit]

District of Columbia will have an electric drive propulsion system that uses an electric motor to turn the propeller of a vessel. It is part of a wider (Integrated electric power) concept whose aim is to create an "all electric vessel".[18][19] Electric drive should reduce the life-cycle cost of the submarine while at the same time reducing acoustic signature.[20][21]

In 2014, Northrop Grumman was chosen as the prime designer and manufacturer of the turbine generator units.[22] The turbines convert thermal energy in the steam into mechanical energy, and the generators convert that mechanical energy into electrical energy.[23] The electrical energy is then used for powering onboard systems as well as for propulsion via electric motor.[22][24]


Common missile compartment[edit]

In December 2008, General Dynamics Electric Boat Corporation was selected to design the Common Missile Compartment that will be used on the Columbia class.[25] In 2012, the U.S. Navy announced plans for the class to share a common missile compartment (CMC) design with the Royal Navy's Dreadnought-class submarine.[5] The CMC will house SLBMs in "quad packs".[26][27]


  1. ^ a b c "SECNAV Names SSBN 826 USS District of Columbia". United States Navy. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  2. ^ "Navy Ohio Replacement Sub Class to Be Named for D.C." 29 July 2019. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  3. ^ Katz, Justin (5 June 2022). "Navy, General Dynamics lay the keel for newly renamed USS District of Columbia". Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  4. ^ "First Columbia Ballistic Missile Submarine Begins to Take Shape". United States Naval Institute. 8 March 2022. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f O'Rourke, Ronald (17 September 2017). "Navy Navy SSBN(X) Ballistic Missile Submarine Program: Background and Issues for Congress" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. R41129. Retrieved 23 September 2017 – via Federation of American Scientists.
  6. ^ a b Kris Osborn (8 April 2014). "Navy Finishes Specs for Future Nuclear Sub". Archived from the original on 15 May 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Columbia-class Program Upping Oversight of Vendors, Components to Stave Off Further Delays". 8 November 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b c "U.S. Nuclear Modernization Programs". Arms Control Association. Archived from the original on 5 April 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Ohio-class Replacement Will Carry "Re-packaged and Re-hosted" Weapons System". Defense Media Network. 4 February 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  10. ^ Ratnam, Gopal; Capaccio, Tony (9 March 2011). "U.S. Navy Sees 20-Year, $333 Billion Plan Missing Ship Goals". Bloomberg. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  11. ^ "Report on the Columbia-class Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarine Program". USNI News, 20 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Cost Estimates for Lead Boat in Columbia-class Program Grow by $637M". USNI News. 7 June 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  13. ^ Grace Jean (30 March 2016). "USN taps General Dynamics Electric Boat as prime contractor for Ohio Replacement Programme". IHS Jane's 360, Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Ohio Replacement Plan Is Good News For Electric Boat". Breaking Defense. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  15. ^ "SSBN / SSGN Ohio Class Submarine". Naval Technology. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Newport News Shipbuilding's share of Virginia-class submarine deliveries to grow | Defense & Shipyards". 29 March 2016. Archived from the original on 4 May 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  17. ^ Bergman, Julia (10 December 2016). "Navy contracts mean Electric Boat will hire 14,000 over next 13 years". The Day.
  18. ^ "An Integrated Electric Power System: the Next Step". Archived from the original on 28 November 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  19. ^ "Going Electric". Defense Media Network. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  20. ^ "Propulsion Systems for Navy Ships and Submarines" (PDF). Government Accounting Office. 6 July 2006.
  21. ^ Technology for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, 2000–2035 Becoming a 21st-Century Force: Volume 2: Technology. 1 June 2003. doi:10.17226/5863. ISBN 978-0-309-05897-1. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  22. ^ a b "News". Northrop Grumman.
  23. ^ "Electricity 101 | GE Gas Power". gepower-v2.
  24. ^ "Ohio Replacement Subs To Shift To Electric Drive". 28 November 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2023.
  25. ^ "CMC Program to Define Future SSBN Launchers for UK, USA". Defense Industry Daily. 25 November 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  26. ^ "Navy Signs Specification Document for the Ohio Replacement Submarine Program, Sets forth Critical Design Elements". Navy News Service. 6 September 2012. NNS120906-13. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  27. ^ Patani, Arif (24 September 2012). "Next Generation Ohio-Class". Retrieved 21 April 2013.

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