Welcome USS Columbia, err, PCU District of Columbia I mean

General Dynamics Electric Boat conducted a keel-laying ceremony for the first Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, USS Columbia (SSBN 826) at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, over the weekend.

Rather than being the 10th USS Columbia as previously announced by SECNAV Ray Mabus in 2016– a tradition that goes back to a 44-gun frigate in 1813 and included two cruisers and an ironclad– current SECNAV Carlos Del Toro issued a statement two days after the fact that the new boomer would be the first-named “District of Columbia” so as not to confuse it with the current USS Columbia (SSN 771), an 688i/Los Angeles-class attack submarine commissioned in 1994– named for the cities of Columbia, South Carolina; Columbia, Missouri; and Columbia, Illinois in conjunction with the naming convention used by the 62 boats of her class.

Of course, PCU District of Columbia won’t likely reach the fleet until at least 2027 (if not 2031) at which point SSN-771 will be between 33 and 37 years old and likely spinning down for decommissioning, but hey…

My suggestion: Do what they did with the old Span-Am War-era protected cruiser USS Columbia (C-12/CA-16) which was renamed USS Old Columbia in 1921 to free up the original name for use by the troop transport USS Columbia (AG-9). SSN-771 would likely just wear it for a year or two, probably not even to include a patrol, while preserving the lineage associated with the name. 

U.S. Navy “Second Class Cruisers – 1899” Monitor, USS Amphitrite; USS Atlanta; USS Columbia; USS Charleston, USS Minneapolis. Published by Werner Company, Akron, Ohio. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

But anyway, the direct USS District of Columbia moniker will salute the Washington D.C.-based Navy installations currently under Naval Support Activity Washington as well as old bases over the years including Naval Air Station/Naval Support Facility Anacostia, the Naval Gun Factory, Washington Navy Yard Marine Barracks (“8th & I”), and the historic United States Naval Observatory campus (established by order of John Quincy Adams), which is a good thing. 

If only the Navy would have somehow, someway, seen this coming. It’s like our naming conventions are done with the magic 8-ball or ouija board over the past few years or something. Of course, you could always look at it as another step in the plan to turn DC into the 51st state, but, hey…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.