The Columbia-class submarine is a planned ballistic missile attack submarine for the United States Navy (USN) intended to succeed the Ohio-class boats. Ohio-class submarines are a product of the latter Cold War years, built from 1976 to 1997, and number eighteen completed boats (2018). The Columbia-class will itself number twelve boats and be used in the same undersea role (SSBN).
The successor program was earlier known as the "Ohio Replacement Submarine" and the "SSBN-X Future Follow-On Submarine".
As it stands the boat will have a largely traditional design arrangement with a tubular shape involving a rounded nose cone and a tapering stern section. The sail is positioned just aft of the bow and well-ahead of midships. A squared-off dorsal section of hull will house the ballistic missile packs, of common design to be shared with the British Royal Navy's Dreadnought group and developed General Dynamics Electric Boat Corporation. The armament suite will center solely on between twelve and sixteen ballistic missile tubes as opposed to the twenty-four currently featured on Ohio-class submarines. Dive planes will be set at the sail itself. The propulsion scheme will involve a nuclear reactor as well as an electric-drive unit, the latter feature promising reduced operating noises (acoustic signature). At the stern will be an X-shaped tailplane arrangement for improved maneuverability.
Planned dimensions include an overall length of 560 feet and a beam of 43 feet. Due to the boat's nuclear propulsion scheme, range will be essentially unlimited.
The initial operating boat of the class will be christened USS Columbia (SSBN-826). It is planned that the series will begin construction sometime in 2021 and the first boat will enter service in the following decade, possible in 2031. The primary contractors are Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding.
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