New Nuclear-Armed Stealth Submarine is the Future of the US Navy
The United States Navy’s new stealth submarine could be the first of a generation of nuclear-armed submarines that will be used into the 2080s. The new Columbia-Class submarines will replace the Ohio-Class submarines starting in 2028.
In May when military budgets were due, the Pentagon revealed a surge in Submarine spending, increasing by over $5 billion per year by 2024. Both the military and the intelligence wings of the government believe in importance of a submarine fleet that is as technologically advanced as possible. Having a strong submarine fleet is incredibly important when planning for potential nuclear wars. Especially at a time when relations with China have deteriorated. The Columbia-Class is a technologically advanced submarine that will ensure that the US can strike back if it is hit with a catastrophic nuclear attack.
Work on the submarine has been going on for several years, and the Navy plans to start construction by 2021. The Navy has completed 26% of the design so far and plans to complete 83% of design plans by the time they start construction. The Navy is currently purchasing various materials such as metals, electronics, sonar arrays, and other key components to build the submarines. Due to the escalation of the global threat environment, the Pentagon and the Navy are approaching the program with urgency. In fact, multiple senior officers of the Department of Defence have called the program a number one priority.
The Columbia Class and its innovative technologies will likely replace the Ohio Class. Rather than using a mechanical drive-propulsion system, the Columbia class will use an incredibly stealthy electric drive propulsion system. The electric drive propulsion system produces electricity which in turn powers an electric motor, in lieu of gears that spin the boat’s propellers. The electric motor will make much less noise and will use power more efficiently than the gears in the Ohio-Class submarines. On Ohio-Class submarines, 80% of reactor power is used solely for propulsion. An increase in efficiency on Columbia-Class submarines will allow for power to be used in other ways onboard.
The Columbia-Class submarines will have other new features as well. For example, the submarines will be 560 feet long and will house sixteen nuclear Trident 2 D5 missiles, which will be fired from 44 foot long missile tubes. The Columbia-Class submarines will also have 16 launch tubes compared to 24 for the Ohio-Class submarines, but they will also be 2 tons larger. Finally, the Columbia-Class submarines will use an X shaped stern, which will give the submarine more maneuverability, especially on the surface of the ocean.
The stealthy Columbia-Class submarines could be the future of submarines and give the United States better nuclear launching capability in today’s global threat environment.
Written by Lorrenzo Lizzeri, Edited by James Mueller & Alexander Fleiss