December 14, 2016 – During a ceremony Dec. 14 at the District of Columbia city hall, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus formally announced the first ship of the new fleet ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), formerly known as the Ohio-class replacement, will be named USS Columbia (SSBN 826) in honor of the District of Columbia.
Ballistic missile submarines are critical, stabilizing and efficient elements of the U.S. nuclear deterrence and assurance policy, carrying most deployed U.S. nuclear warheads. Columbia-class SSBNs incorporate advanced technology and will provide the most survivable leg of the Nation’s strategic triad.
Mabus also announced that the next ship in the John-Lewis class of fleet replenishment oilers, named in honor of U.S. civil rights heroes, will be named USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207).
The future USNS Earl Warren will be operated by Military Sealift Command and provide underway replenishment of fuel and stores to U.S. Navy ships at sea and jet fuel for aircraft assigned to aircraft carriers. Construction is expected to begin on the Earl Warren in 2019.
Born in 1891 in Los Angeles, Earl Warren served in the military during WWI and later became a county district attorney. He won election to his home state’s governorship, holding that position from 1943 until 1953, and was then appointed chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Warren led the Court through many landmark cases dealing with race, justice, and representation. He is credited with helping end school segregation with the court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, stating “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
The final ship named during the ceremony was the future USNS Puerto Rico (T-EPF 11). The Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), formerly named the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), is a shallow draft, all aluminum, commercial-based catamaran that is designed for High Speed Intra-Theater Surface Lift and serves in a variety of roles for the military branches to include support of overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and supporting special operations forces.
Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama, will build the new EPF, which will be 338 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 93.5 feet, displace approximately 2,362 tons and operate at speeds of approximately 35+ knots.