The US Navy, in a surprise move, launched the next-generation destroyer USS Zumwalt, from Bath, Maineinto Maine’s Kennebec River, on Monday afternoon, Oct. 28.
The 600-foot-long DDG 1000 Zumwalt, the largest destroyer ever built, was floated off from a floating drydock. The operation took about eight hours.
Capt. Jim Downey, the Zumwalt-class program manager for the Navy’s Program Executive Office, Ships, said:
“This is the largest ship Bath Iron Works has ever constructed and the Navy’s largest destroyer. The launch was unprecedented in both its size and complexity.”
The Zumwalt-class destroyers are a planned class of United States Navy destroyers, designed as multi-mission ships with a focus on land attack. The class is a scaled-back project that emerged after funding cuts to the larger DD-21 vessel program. The program was previously known as the “DD(X)”. The class is multi-role and designed for surface warfare, anti-aircraft, and naval fire support. They take the place of battleships in filling the former congressional mandate for naval fire support, though the requirement was reduced to allow them to fill this role. The vessels’ appearance has been compared to that of the historic ironclad warship.
The class has a low radar profile; an integrated power system, which can send electricity to the electric drive motors or weapons, which may some day include a railgun or free-electron lasers; total ship computing environment infrastructure, serving as the ship’s primary LAN and as the hardware-independent platform for all of the ship’s software ensembles; automated fire-fighting systems and automated piping rupture isolation. The class is designed to require a smaller crew and be less expensive to operate than comparable warships. It will have a wave-piercing tumblehome hull form whose sides slope inward above the waterline. This will reduce the radar cross-section, returning much less energy than a more hard-angled hull form. As of January 2009, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that only four out of 12 of the critical technologies were mature.