U.S. Navy to Name Second Columbia-Class Submarine SSBN-827 as USS Wisconsin

The U.S. Navy’s second Columbia-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine, SSBN-827, will be named USS Wisconsin in honor of the state of Wisconsin, Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite announced Oct. 28.

SSBN-827 is the second named Columbia-class submarine and will be the third Naval vessel to bear the state name.

“The Wisconsin namesake carries a great legacy that will undoubtedly be continued with our next Columbia class submarine,” said Braithwaite. “Following in the wake of the great battleship, this Wisconsin will serve as the first line of deterrence and defense in today’s era of Great Power Competition.”

USS Wisconsin (BB-9), an Illinois-class pre-Dreadnought battleship, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the 30th state. She was commissioned into the fleet in 1901 and served as the flagship of the Pacific fleet until 1903. Wisconsin operated in the Far East, with the Asiatic Fleet, before she returned to the United States in the autumn of 1906. In 1908, she joined the battleships of the Atlantic Fleet for the transpacific leg of the Great White Fleet. She was decommissioned in 1920.

The Iowa-class battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64) commissioned in April 1944, was the second ship to bear the name. Reaching the Pacific to serve in combat, she served at the Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the final bombardents of the Japanese homelands. After the war, Wisconsin was briefly decommissioned only to be reactivated for the Korean War, serving until 1958. She was then recommissioned in 1988 and participated in the Persian Gulf War. In 1991, Wisconsin was again decommissioned. She currently serves as a museum battleship at Nauticus Berthing in Norfolk, Virginia.

The Columbia-class submarine, formerly known as the SSBN-X Future Follow-on Submarine, is a new class of nuclear submarines designed to replace the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.

The Navy’s ballistic missile submarines, often referred to as “boomers,” serve as an undetectable launch platform for submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). They are designed specifically for stealth and the precise delivery of nuclear warheads.

General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) is designing the Ohio replacement submarines with assistance from Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS). The Navy plans to construct a total of 12 Columbia-class submarines.

The submarines will be 560 feet (170.7 m) long and 43 feet (13.1 m) in diameter. That is the same length as the Ohio-class submarine design, and one foot larger in diameter. Each submarine will have 16 missile tubes and each tube will be capable of carrying one Trident II D5LE SLBM. Ohio-class subs has 24 missile launch tubes.

The Columbia-class boats will have X-shaped stern control surfaces (hydroplanes), sail-mounted dive planes and integrated electric propulsion. The vessel’s nuclear fuel core is sufficient to power the ship for its entire expected service life, unlike the Ohio-class submarines, which require a mid-life nuclear refueling. The boats may also be equipped with a Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical System (SWFTS), a cluster of systems that integrate sonar, optical imaging, weapons control etc.

The Columbia class was officially designated on December 14, 2016, by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, and the lead boat will be USS Columbia (SSBN-826).

The lead boat, Columbia is scheduled to begin construction in Fiscal Year 2021 with the first delivery to the Navy in 2028. The submarine will enter service in 2031 (some 50 years after its immediate predecessor, the Ohio class, entered service). The submarine class will serve through 2085.

In May 2019, HII hosted a ceremonial first-cut-of-steel event at its NNS division to mark the start of advance construction for the future USS Columbia (SSBN-826).

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