Keel laid for US Navy's next-generation nuclear missile submarine

Keel laid for US Navy's next-generation nuclear missile submarine
Artist's rendering of USS District of Columbia
Artist's rendering of USS District of Columbia
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Artist's rendering of USS District of Columbia
Artist's rendering of USS District of Columbia

The construction of America's next-generation strategic nuclear missile submarine has formally begun as the keel was ceremonially laid for the future USS District of Columbia (SSBN 826) at Electric Boat's facility in Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

Though the first steel for the Columbia-class submarines was cut in 2019, the keel laying by the General Dynamics subsidiary, when large sections of the bottom of the vessel are laid down on blocks in the dock as assembly begins, marks a milestone. For submarines, this is purely ceremonial because subs don't have actual keels, so they are technically boats, not ships.

Instead of laying an actual keel, the ceremony involved the welding of the initials of the District of Columbia's sponsor, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), onto a steel plate, which will be permanently installed on the submarine in a place of honor.

Though formal assembly has only now begun, General Dynamics says that construction of the District of Columbia is already 20 percent complete. This is because the submarine's design is modular, with the main sections being built at different Electric Boat and subcontractor facilities. In 2023, the first of the modules will arrive at the new Electric Boat facility at Groton, Connecticut in 2023 for full assembly.

The 21,140-tonne District of Columbia will be the first of the planned 12-vessel Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine fleet. Originally, the first boat's name was to be Columbia, but the attack submarine USS Columbia is still in service and has undergone a life-extension refit, so it will still be in commission when the District of Columbia is finished. To prevent confusion, the US Navy decided to change the name.

The Columbia class will be the largest submarine ever built for the Navy and will replace the 14 Ohio-class Cold War submarines, the first of which is scheduled for retirement in 2027. Each of the new submarines will carry 16 missile tubes each, which is eight less than the Ohio class. These will carry the D-5 Trident II missile with multiple warheads and will account for 70 percent of the deployed US nuclear arsenal.

The Columbia class will have a fully electric pump propulsion system and will be powered by an advanced nuclear reactor that will not require refueling for the entire life of the boat. In addition to the missiles, it will also carry Mk 48 torpedoes and will be equipped with an enlarged version of LAB sonar used by the Virginia-class attack submarines. The hull will also feature an acoustic structure for a minimal sound signature.

The District of Columbia will cost about US$9.15 billion. It's scheduled to be deployed in 2030 and will have a 42-year service life, which will include about 124 ocean patrols carrying a complement of 155 sailors.

"With the Columbia-class program, the Navy has entrusted Electric Boat to deliver the next 60 years of nuclear deterrence for our nation, continuing the company’s legacy of delivering the finest, most technically advanced submarines in the world," said Kevin Graney, president of General Dynamics Electric Boat. "These submarines are critical for our national defense, and will embody the commitment to excellence our shipbuilders bring to their work each and every day."

Source: General Dynamics

Oh great! A projected continuation of Cold War nuclear deterrence politics and foreign policy for another 50 years! That will be over 100 years of the same policy. Must be a record.
IMHO, quite on the contrary to what some very naive people think, threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is what really prevents WW3!!!
That is really/actually why no local/regional wars (which still happen!) ever able to escalate towards triggering WW3!!!
Because, all superpower countries are always well aware of threat of MAD, just like "the Sword of Damocles"!
Realize, for example, even tough WW1 had caused massive death & destruction, there was a new world war triggered just about 20 years later!
It is not really because we do not have a WW3 because whole world/humanity learned its lesson!!!
Marco McClean
Every war ship launched represents a massive theft. Everyone who is a millionaire because of war and prep for war is a war profiteer and a war criminal, and should be pauperized and put to work at something useful so they don't cost people even more money punishing them. And a written apology from them would be a nice gesture.
9Billion each.. for what.. as if the land based nukes dont' work.
Marco McClean: As long as we have opponents breaking all the rules,and invading neighboring countries,AND armed with ~ 6000 nukes,we need something to deter them. WW3 would start small,and quickly escalate. Russian doctrine has changed,and they now believe even a nuclear war is winnable. On a positive note,the advanced reactor in this sub would be a big help with climate change,and give us distributed,reliable,clean power for medium sized cities for many years before needing refueling.
michael_dowling- Invading other countries is breaking the rules? You mean the one that says only the US can do it? And when did the Russians decide a nuclear war was winnable? Why haven't they launched one then? You espouse an odd mix of protecting the environment while pursuing its destruction. Maybe you're thinking nuclear winter will counteract global warming which, granted, to some extent it will, but that has to be balanced against the environmental degradation and massive radioactive fallout, not to mention the billions of deaths and the internet going dark. And as long as I'm typing, since the author didn't mention it maybe you can tell me what this sub does that the Trident doesn't. Near as I can tell, the only real difference is that it carries two thirds of the same missiles for three times the cost, which is 4.5 times as much per dead Russian. Maybe this is a round about way of placing a higher value on them.