The Navy’s $4.3 billion stealth destroyer, the Zumwalt, took to the sea for tests on Monday, and it has already faced a life-saving mission.
According to the Portland Press Herald, the 600-foot-long destroyer was conducting sea trials off the coast of Maine, when they received an emergency call from the Coast Guard.
Dale Sparrow, the 46-year-old captain of the fishing trawler Danny Boy, was suffering from chest pains and needed immediate assistance. Usually, the coast guard would hoist the patient from the deck of the ship, but in this case, that was not a possibility without the Zumwalt.
Public affairs officer Lt. David Bourbeau Sector Northern New England explained.
“Our main concern with this type of medical emergency is to recover the patient safely and transport them to a higher level care as quickly as possible. Fortunately, the Zumwalt was operating in the area and was able to provide valuable assistance.”
The configuration of the Danny Boy’s deck made a helicopter rescue dangerous. So, the crew of the Zumwalt dispatched a smaller vessel to take the man from his boat to the deck of the destroyer, where the coast guard was finally able to complete the mission. The Coast Guard later released video of the helicopter crewing hoisting up the captain.
Officials at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW), where the Zumwalt was built, also released a statement praising the crews.
“General Dynamics Bath Iron Works is incredibly proud of the work its men and women did alongside the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard to rescue a fisherman in distress. Their actions reflected the highest values of our company. Following the rescue, BIW, the Navy and other Naval contractors returned to the task at hand, running sea trials for DDG 1000, the future USS Zumwalt.”
As of Saturday night, Captain Sparrow was listed as in stable condition at Maine Medical, and he has declined to comment on the incident.
The trawler rescue is one positive point for the already-controversial Zumwalt.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the massive stealth destroyer launched for tests on Monday to a celebration including about 200 shipbuilders, sailors, and Maine residents. The ship took about four years and $4.3 billion to build.
It’s equipped with the most advanced radar and sonar systems, but other ships with the same setup would detect the Zumwalt as only a small fishing boat thanks to its stealth design. The top deck holds an entirely enclosed deckhouse that resembles a pyramid.
The destroyer marks the revival of the “wave-piercing tumblehome” hull design, which was once discarded because of safety concerns. The Zumwalt is also under scrutiny according to the Defense News.
So far, eight former and current Navy officers have come forward with doubts about the ship’s stability, saying that the stealth design sacrifices safety.
A report in 2007 called Dynamic Stability of Flared and Tumblehome Hull Forms in Waves presented in Germany said of the ship’s design, “Increasing wave heights … lead to drastic reductions in the stability of the tumblehome topside hull form.”
Still, it went on to say, “even in steep waves, with large initial heel angles and roll rates, the flared topside had very few instance of capsize.”
As a result of the safety concerns, and the massive cost, the only two or three of the ships might ever make their way into official duty in the Navy, even though the original plans were for 32 stealth destroyers.
Some of those issues might be worked out through sea tests. In any case, the Zumwalt proved some of its worth on Saturday by saving Captain Sparrow off the coast of Maine.
[Photo by U.S. Navy/General Dynamics Bath Iron Works via Getty Images]