Navy Submarine Warfare Director: Navy to Keep Columbia SSBN Line ‘Hot’ After 12th Boat

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy plans to keep the production line of the Columbia-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN) ready for new submarine production, the Navy’s director for submarine warfare said.

“What we are going to do is we’re going to keep the Columbia line hot,” Rear Adm. John Tammen, said Nov. 8 at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium. “That gives us the option, if STRATCOM [U.S. Strategic Command] says we need more than 12, well then we can produce more than 12.”

Keeping the line open also may aid in a smoother transition to the Navy’s next submarines, possibly large mother ships for unmanned underwater vehicles and other types mission systems.

“If STRATCOM doesn’t need more than 12, then we’re looking at what we call the Large-Volume Host Platform, where we’ll take that center section — we haven’t nailed down the concept — but there will be the ability to host vehicles on board inside that center section,” Tammen said.

Also speaking at the symposium, Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe, director of Strategic Systems Programs, noted that the Defense Department’s Nuclear Posture Review calls for a minimum of 12 Columbia-class SSBNs, not a hard limitation of 12 boats.

The design of the lead boat of the new class, Columbia, is 83 percent complete. Construction is scheduled to begin next year. The boat is scheduled for its first patrol in 2031.