USS Zumwalt, the largest destroyer in the U.S. Navy will soon begin sea trials. The ship, built at a staggering cost of $4.4 billion is currently navigating the winding Kennebec River.
A large gathering consisting of 200 shipbuilders, sailors and residents in Maine, gathered early morning to watch the Navy’s new high-tech “stealth” destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, reported Boston. The destroyer was slowly maneuvered out of the pier at Bath Iron Works (BIW). Loud cheers erupted at Fort Popham as the 610-foot ship, which looks quite futuristic, slowly made its way between the Civil War-era fort and Gilbert Head. The ship will snake its way through the Kennebec River before venturing out into the open Atlantic Ocean to begin sea trials. Speaking about the inaugural launch, the ship’s skipper, Navy Capt. James Kirk, said:
“We are absolutely fired up to see Zumwalt get underway. For the crew and all those involved in designing, building, and readying this fantastic ship, this is a huge milestone.”
The ship has been equipped with the best of systems, including electric propulsion that’s powered by a 78 megawatt powerhouse. Equipped with brand new radar and sonar, the USS Zumwalt can keep a close eye on any sea movement, but remain nearly invisible to similar technology owing to its stealth design. With powerful guided missile systems and guns, the destroyer is a strong deterrent to enemy ships. The ship has been fitted with extensive automation, which allows it to be run with a much smaller crew than current class of destroyers, reported MSN.
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It was all this innovation that caused the 610-foot-long, 15,000-ton destroyer to take over four years to complete and pushed its budget up. The first of three Zumwalt class destroyers was built with an investment of $4.4 billion. Interestingly, the expenses might not end. The sea trials to be conducted by BWI will involve testing the ship’s performance. Thereafter USS Zumwalt will head back to the yard for tweaks and refinements, which will carried out in the winter. The U.S. Navy may take delivery of the ship sometime next year.
The ship certainly is one of kind, and such an advanced destroyer has never been built at BWI. The ship has been constructed with smooth surfaces and scientifically designed angles to ensure radar waves bounce of it, instead of reflecting, confusing enemy ships. The ship has a rather odd 1,000-ton deckhouse that resembles a pyramid with its top sawed off. The “inverse bow” is designed to slice through waves with minimal drag. The ship’s bow angles inward from the waterline to the deck. It is a revival of the “wave-piercing tumblehome” hull design, which was once discarded years ago.
With a much smaller “wake,” the 610-foot destroyer will have the radar imprint of a mundane fishing vessel. It is an impressive 50-fold reduction when compared to the Navy’s current generation of destroyers. With USS Zumwalt’s arrival, gone are the days which dictated how close a ship could operate near the shores. The Zumwalt-class destroyers can operate a lot closer to shore and yet fend off other maritime threats like submarines, as well as aerial threats like fighter jets.
This is the first ship ever built to have completely hidden radar and antennas. All the protrusions or rotating antennas that are typically observed on top of naval ships have been neatly incorporated within the deckhouse that’s built with composite materials. Essentially, the deckhouse of USS Zumwalt can be considered as a giant antenna in itself.
The sea trials will be used to test the Zumwalt’s hull, mechanical and electrical systems during what Navy officials have described as a “multi-day underway period.” The Zumwalt will eventually be home-ported in San Diego after its official commissioning in Baltimore and the addition of weapons systems, reported Portland Press Herald.
[Photo by U.S. Navy / General Dynamics Bath Iron Works / Getty Images]