The submarine COLUMBIA (SSN 771) is the eighth commissioned U.S. Navy
warship to bear the name that personifies freedom and the United
The first ship to bear the name COLUMBIA was a 44 gun frigate. The
frigate was burned at the Washington Navy yards in 1814 in order to
prevent the ship from falling into the hands of enemy forces.
The second COLUMBIA was a sailing frigate launched and commissioned
into naval service in 1836. This vessel later became one of the first
U.S. Navy ships to circumnavigate the globe. The ship was later
scuttled and burned by Union forces at the outbreak of the Civil War.
The third COLUMBIA was a screw steamer used by Confederate forces as a
blockade runner. In December 1862, she was captured by Union forces and
assigned to the U.S. Navy's North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. This
ship ran aground and wrecked off Wilmington, NC the following year.
In 1864, the fourth COLUMBIA was built and commissioned in Charleston,
SC for the Confederate Navy. This vessel was an early ironclad ship
which was later seized during the occupation of Charleston by Union
forces in Februrary 1865. She saw limited action during the war and was
decommissioned in June of the same year.
The Cruiser 12 was christened in 1892 as the fifth COLUMBIA at the
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. She participated in both the
Spanish-American War and in the first World War. From 1915 to 1917 the
ship acted as the Submarine Flotilla Flagship. She additionally served
as a part of both Squadron 5 Patrol Force and Squadron 2 Destroyer
Force. She was decommissioned in 1921.
In 1921, the USS GREAT NORTHERN, a naval transport ship, was renamed
COLUMBIA. During World War I, she carried 28,248 troops to Europe and
22,852 back to the U.S. in 18 round trips. After distinguished service
as the flagship for the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, she was
decommissioned in 1922.
The seventh and most famous of the long COLUMBIA line, was the Light
Cruiser CL-56. She was launched at the Camden Navy Yard in December,
1941, just after the U.S. entered World War II. She immediately
reported to the South Pacific and participated in numerous actions in
the Solomons, including the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay. She also
supported the Palaus Landing and the invasion of the Philippines.
During her involvement in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, she was credited
with sinking a battleship, forcing the remaining enemy units to retire
the battle. She also participated in the landing at Lingayen Gulf, the
invasion of Borneo, and operated with Task Force 95 in the East China
Sea. In all the ship was awarded ten battle stars and the Navy Unit
Commendation prior to being decommissioned in 1946.