|Columbia Class Submarine: Immature Technologies Present Risks to Achieving Cost Schedule and Performance Goals|
The Navy's Columbia class ballistic missile submarines will replace the 14 Ohio class that currently provide the sea-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, slated to begin retiring in 2027. The first Columbia must begin patrols in 2031 to prevent a gap in deterrent capabilities; the class will ultimately carry up to 70 percent of the nation's strategic nuclear capability. The program is a top Navy priority with an expected cost of $267 billion over its life cycle, including $128 billion to research, develop, and buy 12 submarines. This review examines (1) the status of key Columbia class technologies; and (2) potential risks with the Navy's planned approach for design and construction.