Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Related Content
  • Boats-Ships--Submarine
  • Boats-Ships--Nuclear Powered
Document Type
  • Ship History
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials

Columbus IV (SSN-762)


The fourth U.S. Navy ship named Columbus. The first two ships were named for Christopher Columbus (1451–1506), the discoverer of America, and the third and fourth for the capital city of Ohio. The first Columbus, an armed ship, served from 1775–1778. The second Columbus, a ship-of-the-line, served (with some interruptions) from 1819–1861. The third Columbus, a heavy cruiser (CA-74), was reclassified to a guided missile cruiser (CG-12) on 30 September 1959, and served from 1945–1976.


(SSN-762: displacement 6,927; length 362'; beam 33'; draft 31'; speed 25 knots; complement 110; armament 12 Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes for UGM-109 Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missiles and UGM-84 Harpoon submarine launched anti-ship missiles, and four torpedo tubes for Mk 48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) torpedoes; class Los Angeles)

The fourth Columbus (SSN-762) was laid down on 7 January 1991 at Groton, Conn., by General Dynamics Electric Boat; launched on 1 August 1992; sponsored by Mrs. Margaret A. DeMars, wife of Adm. Bruce DeMars, Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion; and was commissioned on 24 July 1993 at Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., Cmdr. Carl M. Smeigh Jr., in command.

Columbus IV (SSN-762) 1993-Seal


Dark blue and gold are the colors traditionally associated with the Navy, and symbolize the sea and excellence. Red stands for courage and action. The shield honors Christopher Columbus, an early explorer for whom the capital of Ohio is named. The three sections of the shield recall his ships: Santa Maria, Niña, and Pinta. The arc alludes to the globe and new horizons. The castle and lion are adapted from the Spanish flag and allude to Christopher Columbus’ sponsor. They also appeared on the coat of arms of the third Columbus (CA-74) during World War II. The scroll suggests a map and navigational skills. The red stylized cross on the white scroll resembles that which Christopher Columbus bore on his sails and recalls the explorer’s voyage to the New World.


The trident represents sea prowess and depicts naval military readiness. The tines represent the three previous ships named Columbus, while the bottom spike points to the ocean depths, the area of operation of the attack submarine. Christopher Columbus navigated by dead reckoning with a compass and the measurement of latitude from the North Star. The compass rose highlights the four major directions, and the red polestar signifies the North Star. The annulet of the compass rose forms an “O” for Ohio, while the star at its center is for Columbus, the state capital. The eagle is adapted from that city’s seal, while the dolphins are symbolic of submarine service.

Columbus IV (SSN-762) 1993-Launching
Columbus churns the water and her crewmen render honors as the attack submarine launches at Groton, Conn., on 1 August 1992. (Unattributed General Dynamics Electric Boat photograph, donated to the Navy, Columbus (SSN-762), Ships History, Naval History and Heritage Command)

Columbus successfully launched two UGM-109 Tomahawks as part of the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TTWCS) operational evaluation process, while steaming in southern Californian waters in late May 2003. The TTWCS was designed to allow increased flexibility of Tactical Tomahawks and launch platform mission planning. Additionally, the TTWCS software was intended to reduce the operator’s workload and decrease the time required to prepare and launch the missiles. Guided missile destroyer Stethem (DDG-63) had successfully demonstrated the system in the autumn of 2002.

In the submarine’s first test event, an (inert) Block III missile flew a fully guided 575-nautical mile flight at the Naval Air Systems Command (NavAir) Pacific test range. Seconds after launching from the submarine’s torpedo tube launch system, the Tomahawk transitioned to cruise flight, utilizing global positioning satellite navigation to a target impact site on the land range. In the second test event, an (inert) Block III missile ejected from the vertical launch system and flew a fully guided 520-mile flight onto the same range complex. This second flight also utilized global positioning satellite navigation to a target impact site on the same range. Additionally, Columbus planned this particular mission. The tests affected the attack boat’s AN/BYG-1 Fire Control System and she repaired the system, from 6–12 June.

Columbus IV (SSN-762) 1993-120222-N-ZO232-018
Columbus deploys from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hi., to the Western Pacific, 22 February 2012. (Chief Mass Communication Specialist Josh Thompson, U.S. Navy Photograph 120222-N-ZO232-018, Navy NewsStand)
Columbus IV (SSN-762) 1993-120823-N-UK333-094
Chief Electronics Technician Robert Denbigh greets his wife on the pier at Pearl Harbor for the traditional first kiss as Columbus returns from her voyage, 23 August 2012. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ronald Gutridge, U.S. Navy Photograph 120823-N-UK333-094, Navy NewsStand)

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

3 September 2015

Published: Tue Sep 08 10:57:26 EDT 2015