What is certain is that the US Navy needs replacements for its 14th Ohio-class submarine. The first is due to retire in 2027, and with nuclear deterrence in general still important, the United States cannot weaken its nuclear triad. So it was set at the right time a model Under the Columbia type, or more precisely the USS DIstrict of Columbia, that is, the first new-generation submarine of this type.

Disctrict of Columbia is expected to cost $9.15 billion and is scheduled to enter service in 2030, with an estimated service life of 42 years.

First of all, “putting a keel under the District of Columbia” can only be considered a purely ceremonial act. Submarines aren’t afraid of real mannequins (hence they are boats not technically ships), so their “location” at the electric boat facility in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, is just a formality. In fact, the development of this vessel began in 2019, when the first steel plate was cut in mind.

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As a result, the actual “keel” in this case was to weld the initials of the ship’s patron, Congressman Elinor Holmes Norton, to a steel plate that would be permanently attached to the submarine in a place of honor. In practice, the dock already includes, among other things, large portions of the ship’s bottom stacked on dock blocks, so it’s no wonder the District of Columbia is now 20 percent complete.

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Especially since its design is modular, which means that the main sections of the ships are built in many electric boat factories and with subcontractors already contracted. In 2023, the first complete unit will arrive at the new electric boat facility in Groton, Connecticut, where it will be fully assembled. Ultimately, the 21,140-ton District of Columbia will be the first of the 12 Columbia ballistic missile submarines.

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Given their dimensions, these ships will be the largest submarines ever built for the Navy. Each will be equipped with 16 launchers, which will include the D-5 Trident II multiple warhead missiles, which will eventually make up a total of 70% of the deployed US nuclear arsenal. In addition, the Columbia will use all-electric propulsion powered by a nuclear reactor, which will not require refueling for the life of the ship.