U.S. Navy photo

Keel Laying Ceremony Held for District of Columbia

Published June 7, 2022

General Dynamics Electric Boat laid the keel of submarine District of Columbia (SSBN 826) during a ceremony at its facility in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, on Saturday, June 4.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced Friday, June 3, that SSBN 826 would be named District of Columbia to alleviate any name conflicts with the already-commissioned Los Angeles-class submarine USS Columbia (SSN 771).

District of Columbia is the first ship in the U.S. Navy’s new class of ballistic missile submarines. The Columbia class will replace the 14 Ohio-class submarines due to begin retiring from service in 2027.

Newport News Shipbuilding is a principal subcontractor for the Columbia program and is constructing bow and stern modules. NNS President Jennifer Boykin spoke during the keel laying ceremony.

“It’s hard to put into words what it means to build U.S. submarines. They are, after all, called the Silent Service for a reason, and we don’t usually get to talk about them publicly. With this submarine, there’s an even greater sense of responsibility that comes with knowing she will be the most survivable leg of our nation’s strategic triad,” she said. “To all the shipbuilders in the audience today, and those watching back home at Newport News, thank you for answering the call to serve our nation as only you can. You represent a powerful deterrent for our country’s defense, and today is another great example of that.”

During the ceremony, Electric Boat welder Maria Betance-Pizarro welded the initials of Ship’s Sponsor U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton onto a plate that will be affixed to the submarine. Holmes Norton represents the District of Columbia in the U.S. House of Representatives.

At a length of 560 feet and displacing 20,810 tons, District of Columbia will be the largest submarine ever built by the United States. Its reactor will not require refueling during the lifetime of planned service. 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 quiet submarine ever built.

Construction of SSBN 826 is more than 20% complete and is scheduled for delivery in 2027. The Columbia class is expected to have a service life into the 2080s.