US Navy establishes Program Executive Office for new ballistic missile submarine

The U.S. Navy announced on March 6 the establishment of Program Executive Office Columbia (PEO CLB) to focus entirely on the Navy’s number one acquisition priority. PEO CLB will provide oversight of the construction of 12 Columbia-class submarines (SSBN) that will help the Navy maintain a credible, survivable and modern sea-based strategic deterrent into the 2080s.

US Navy establishes Program Executive Office for new ballistic missile submarine Illustration of the planned Columbia-class submarine (Illustration source: U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command)

"This is the Navy’s most important program and establishing a new PEO today will meet tomorrow’s challenges head on," said the Honorable James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for acquisition, research and development. "The evolution from initial funding to construction, development and testing to serial production of 12 SSBNs will be crucial to meeting the National Defense Strategy and building the Navy the nation needs. PEO Columbia will work directly with resource sponsors, stakeholders, foreign partners, shipbuilders and suppliers to meet national priorities and deliver and sustain lethal capacity our warfighters need."

Geurts announced that Rear Adm. Scott Pappano will assume the first office of PEO Columbia.

PEO Columbia will be part of Team Subs and will work closely with PEO Submarines and the Naval Sea Systems Command’s In-Service Submarine Directorate (SEA 07) on all submarine and affiliated programs including life cycle support. PEO CLB will focus on the design, build, and sustainment of the Columbia program and associated efforts that include interface with Strategic Systems Program and the United Kingdom for the Dreadnought Program.

The Columbia-class is a critical shipbuilding program and must deliver on time to meet U.S. Strategic Command nuclear deterrence requirements due to the Ohio-class submarines reaching maximum extended service life. The first Columbia-class ship is on track to begin construction of USS Columbia (SSBN 826) in fiscal year 2021, deliver in fiscal year 2028, and on patrol in 2031.

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