Military

US Navy's first Zumwalt-class destroyer begins sea trials

US Navy's first Zumwalt-class ...
The future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is for the first time conducting at-sea tests and trials in the Atlantic Ocean
The future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is for the first time conducting at-sea tests and trials in the Atlantic Ocean
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The Zumwalt was launched in 2014
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The Zumwalt was launched in 2014
The Zumwalt is expected to be operational in 2016
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The Zumwalt is expected to be operational in 2016
The Zumwalt incorporates advanced stealth design
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The Zumwalt incorporates advanced stealth design
The future USS Zumwalt will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces, and operate as an integral part of joint and combined expeditionary forces
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The future USS Zumwalt will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces, and operate as an integral part of joint and combined expeditionary forces
The Zumwalt will be the largest destroyer ever built for the US Navy
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The Zumwalt will be the largest destroyer ever built for the US Navy
The future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is for the first time conducting at-sea tests and trials in the Atlantic Ocean
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The future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is for the first time conducting at-sea tests and trials in the Atlantic Ocean
View gallery - 6 images

The future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) has begun sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean. The largest destroyer ever built for the US Navy and the first of three Zumwalt-class destroyers left the General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works and traveled down the Kennebec River in Maine on Monday in the first of a series of tests leading up to her commissioning next year.

The Zumwalt is notable not only for its size, but also for its distinct tumblehome hull composite superstructure, which is part of a suite of advanced stealth features that reduce the ship's radar profile by a factor of 50 over current destroyer designs.

Carrying a crew of 130 and an air detachment of 28, the destroyer is armed with two 115 mm Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) firing rocket-powered precision Long-Range Land Attack Projectiles (LRLAP) with a range of 63 nm (117 km), which is three times greater than current surface gunnery.

In addition, there are 80 MK-41 peripheral vertical launch system (VLS) missile cells, a stern ramp for launching two Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, and a flight deck for two MH-60R or one MH-60R and 3 VT Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The Navy says this is the first US warship to incorporate the Integrated Power System (IPS), which is an all-electric system powered by gas turbines. This design was chosen not only chosen for economy and survivability, but also in anticipation of future energy weapons.

The Zumwalt will be the largest destroyer ever built for the US Navy
The Zumwalt will be the largest destroyer ever built for the US Navy

Named after former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo R "Bud" Zumwalt Jr, construction of the US$4 billion Zumwalt began in 2009 and it was launched in 2014. The Navy says that it's designed to operate independently in forward areas to provide presence and deterrence, as well as operating with joint and combined expeditionary forces as a multi-mission Anti-Air Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, and Anti-Surface Warfare unit.

Originally, 32 of the Zumwalt-class ships were ordered, but cost overruns reduced this to three. Construction is already underway on the Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and the Lyndon B Johnson (DDG 1001).

The video below shows the future USS Zumwalt taking to the seas.

Source: US Navy

Future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) Underway

View gallery - 6 images
29 comments
Derek Howe
"Originally, 32 of the Zumwalt-class ships were ordered, but cost overruns reduced this to three."
3 whole ships, WOW, that will stop an enemy dead in their tracks!
Our government has to be the most brain dead bureaucratic group of "smart" people on planet Earth. This ship is revolutionary, so I expect a high price tag, but they need to keeps things within reason. It should not cost 4.4 billion dollars to build one ship!
In 50 years I predict our Navy will have the most advanced ship ever conceived by mankind, full of immeasurable weaponry, full stealth in optical/thermal/radar, with a fusion reactor to power it to a top speed of 200mph! The only problem...we can only afford to build one, it'll be the only ship in are naval "fleet".
esthero
@Derek Howe Well said. I also have a problem with the number of very advanced weapon platforms these days. Sure they are force multipliers but how much better is their survivability? You can probably still saturate it's defenses with a combined air, sea and submarine attack or by attacking it with multiple submarines. In Europe the Americans are known for their high-tech weaponry but when push comes to shove, often the smaller and less capable European forces still outsmart their bigger ally. Especially at sea. If the Russians (forget the Chinese for the foreseeable future) are as smart as the average German, Dutch, British or Scandinavian forces, the US aircraft carriers and other large navy ships(like this new destroyer) would go down pretty quickly. The Americans are over-relying on technology.
esthero
Besides, what happend to swarm tactics? Swarming is the future, people. And if you don't believe me, just look at history and biology.
Daishi
@Derek Howe one redeeming quality is it is supposed to require far fewer people to operate. 158 people and 10% of the crew size of other ships similar in size is 1422 fewer sailors needed. Guessing the cost of a sailor at like $100k to pay and support that's $142 million in savings/year or 1.4 Billion in savings over 10 years and 2.8 billion over 20 years.
If they were able to build future ships cheaper now that they have done all the tooling and R&D it might not be a complete waste of money. Sometimes the high upfront costs of automation are worth the return.
If you think about it if it's possible to drive and shoot tanks with only 1 or 2 players in video games the same is pretty much true in real life. You could shave off a ton of weight and cost in the process. Something like a smaller MRAP with better guns.
Bob
Several good comments here. One of the biggest problems with high technology is a little critter called a bug. Logistics will be extremely difficult for a variety of super high tech weapons. Our government has a habit of building a supply of high tech weapons and then closing down the factory. Resupply will be delayed if not impossible.
Iman Azol
They only cost $4.4 billion because there are 3. Had all 32 been built, the price would have been far lower.
You are correct that the government is brain dead. This is the process:
Committee to design new ship. Committee to review proposals. Congressional debate to accept Navy's recommendation. Approval to develop plans. Contractors paid to do prototyping and demonstrator models. Selection of final version. Contractor awarded contract.
Then, this is the important part: ALL THAT COST is assigned to the finished project. "ZOMG! The $1 bn destroyer is going to cost $1.5 Bn. Cut back from 32 to 25. ZOMG! They're now $1.6 bn each. Cut back to 15! ZOMG! The price keeps increasing the fewer we build! Just do the three on the cancellation order and write it off. $4.4 bn each. GREEDY CONTRACTORS!"
BTW, for comparison, the flyaway cost of a new top of the line jumbo jet is about a half billion. So, really, these ships are not that expensive.
MaximKarlRice
More hi-tech death and destruction funded by our tax dollars....
Phillip Noe
Another unnecessary weapon system brought to you by the industrial war machine to keep our future generations in debt. It's past time to downsize this aspect of our military.
bobcat4424
There is a small matter called the Piper Cub Paradox. It basically says that if you pitted one F-35 (or other aircraft or ship) against the number of Piper Super Cubs that the same dollar amount would buy --- An F-35 can carry four internal AAM's and a Piper Super Cub one --- the Piper Cubs will always win. The point is that military toys get so expensive that the very expense becomes their Achilles Heel.
During WWII the Japanese figured they would rule the Pacific with two battle fleets, each headed up by one of two gigantic battleships. But in fact they because so important to the Japanese that they were afraid to risk them in battle and both saw very little action. They were just too big (and expensive) to fail.
LocalHero
Plenty of money in the budget for this god-awful murder machines. May it soon find itself at the bottom of the ocean. I could care less.