Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Carlos Del Toro announced that the first ship in the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) will be officially named USS District of Columbia (SSBN 826).
The decision to name SSBN 826 is to alleviate any name conflicts with the already-commissioned USS Columbia (SSN 771). §10 U.S.C. 8662(a) states that not more than one vessel of the Navy may have the same name.
The Columbia program was named in 2016 with the lead ship projected to enter service in 2027, consequently overlapping with the existing USS Columbia (SSN 771). SSBN 826 will be named after the nation’s capital while SSN 771 is named after cities in South Carolina, Missouri, and Illinois named Columbia, following the naval tradition of SSNs being named after U.S. cities.
“The District of Columbia is rich with naval history. The Washington Navy Yard is our oldest shore facility. Marines like Montford Point Marine Herman Darden and Brigadier General Anthony Henderson and Sailors like Yeoman Charlotte Louise Berry Winters and Medal of Honor Recipient First Class Fireman John Rush were born and raised in D.C.,” said Del Toro. “This is why I prefer to call D.C. not just our nation’s capital, but instead, our naval capital. The naming of the USS District of Columbia honors this.”
The future USS District of Columbia’s (SSBN 826) keel laying ceremony will take place on June 4, 2022 at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Quonset Point, R.I. The ship’s sponsors are District of Columbia Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser.