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US Navy gets largest and most expensive destroyer ever

Published time: October 29, 2013 17:46
Edited time: October 31, 2013 09:03
USS Zumwalt (U.S. Navy photo illustration)

USS Zumwalt (U.S. Navy photo illustration)

After suffering numerous problems with the latest class of surface warships, the Navy is hoping for a win with the introduction of the largest destroyer in United States history.

On Monday, the Navy launched the new USS Zumwalt into Maine’s Kennebec River for the first time. Originally designed simply for shore bombardment, the ship is now intended to serve multiple purposes, including backing up Marines on clandestine missions.

The massive Zumwalt – which is 100 feet longer than the Navy’s current class of destroyers – features unique angles that deflect radar, advanced sonar and guided missiles, and has a new type of gun that shoots rocket-powered warheads up to 100 miles.

"The concept of the Zumwalt is sort of a bridge between the traditions of the past and the new world of networked warfare and precision guided munitions," said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, according to Fox News. "It's not so much a radical concept as it is an attempt to pull off a full range of missions with a ship that has one foot in the present and one foot in the future."

Concept view of the USS Zumwalt class destroyer (DDG-1000), image from

To go along with its forward-looking nature, many of the Zumwalt’s operations are automated. There are so many computers running the ship that it will only require about 158 crew members to be on board. A typical Navy destroyer requires almost double that number.

“The Zumwalt is really in a league of its own,” said defense consultant Eric Wertheim, author of the 'The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World,' to the Daily Mail.

In fact, the Navy’s plan to pack in so much sophisticated technology carried such a high price tag that some senior Navy officials tried to kill off the project. Instead, the program’s goal was narrowed: Rather than build 20 ships, the Navy would approve the construction of only three.

DDG 1000 (Image from @General Dynamics Bath Iron Works)

Currently, the Zumwalt is on track to cost more than $3.5 billion. That’s a hefty sum, but, much to the relief of Navy officials, the ship’s construction is on time and on budget. Previous Navy programs, like the new fleet of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), haven’t been nearly as lucky.

Although significantly smaller than destroyers, the LCS have been swamped with complications ranging from technical issues to cost overruns. Last year, the Navy said it had brought the cost for each LCS down to under $400 million, but the first two each carried a $700 million price tag.

To make matters worse, one suffered a major leak-causing crack in its hull, while the other’s on-board technology failed to distinguish underwater mines from light hitting the waves. The LCS’ computer networks also proved to be susceptible to hackers, and a Defense Department study found that the ships are “not expected to be survivable” in combat.

"[The LCS] is a total disaster," Norman Polmar, a naval historian, analyst and author, told Fox News.

The Zumwalt’s construction has been relatively smooth in comparison. Its christening ceremony was originally scheduled for early October, but was delayed into the spring due to the government shutdown.

The ship is named after Admiral Zumwalt, a Bronze Star winner who served during World War II, appointed women to serve on ships for the first time, and battled against racial discrimination in the Navy.

Comments (57)


JC Bucks 14.07.2014 15:41

Roddy Pfeiffer 30.10.2013 10:17

This obscene f;oating pile of money can be sent to the bottom by one of several missiles that are in circulation around the world. There is no defense for them. Also, the Chinese submarines can get close to anything we have on the water and we can't detect them until they fire torpedoes or missiles.


Wh ere did you get that information?
That is what the Chinese would like to believe. Stop feeding on the BS propaganda.


John Allard 05.07.2014 19:08

ALEKSANDAR 11.11.2013 16:58

fantastic ship! perhaps No1 in naval architecture today.but, us officials do not want to admit that the strategic rail gun is not working properly.real problem is that this rail gun is a key element in nato antimissile program.this beautiful ship is a platform for this weapon...and what is a 3 destroyers strategy?


No it's not, the rail gun is an electric gun drive system, and it DOES in fact work. And it's not for missile defense, its so the Navy can provide gunfire support to Marines going ashore while staying out of range of most anti-ship threats. Cheers


John Allard 05.07.2014 19:05

[quote name='William-Cody Layne' time='17.01.2014 15:11']

You don't read captions do you? They say concept and illustration...[/quo te]

One of the pictures is real. You don't read captions do you?

View all comments (57)
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