USS Zumwalt: Building the Future

By Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden
Director of Surface Warfare, N96

This past weekend in Bath, Maine, Ann Zumwalt and Mouzetta Zumwalt-Weathers, the daughters of Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, broke two ceremonial bottles of champagne on the gleaming bow of the future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), and officially christened this 21st century destroyer beginning a new chapter for both the ship and the history of U.S. Navy’s surface warfare fleet.

Mouzetta Zumwalt-Weathers Christens the guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Zumwalt (DDG 1000) during a christening ceremony at bath Iron Works, April 12. The ship, the first of three Zumwalt-class destroyers, will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces and operate as part of joint and combined expeditionary forces. The lead ship and class are named in honor of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo R. "Bud" Zumwalt Jr., who served as chief of naval operations from 1970-1974.(U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works by Dennis Griggs/Released)

Mouzetta Zumwalt-Weathers Christens the guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Zumwalt (DDG 1000) during a christening ceremony at bath Iron Works, April 12. The ship, the first of three Zumwalt-class destroyers, will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces and operate as part of joint and combined expeditionary forces. The lead ship and class are named in honor of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo R. “Bud” Zumwalt Jr., who served as chief of naval operations from 1970-1974.(U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works by Dennis Griggs/Released)

 

Admiral Elmo R. “Bud” Zumwalt Jr. was the 19th Chief of Naval Operations from 1970 to 1974 and the youngest man to serve as the Navy’s top-ranking officer. During Admiral Zumwalt’s decorated career, he courageously reformed and reshaped outdated personnel policies, so much so that upon his passing in 2000, Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin stated, “Admiral Elmo Zumwalt was a great naval leader, a visionary and a courageous challenger of the conventional wisdom.”

Like the admiral, this ship named in his honor challenges conventional wisdom. Unlike any other destroyer ever built, USS Zumwalt is the most advanced warship in the world and represents a great technological advancement in United States naval shipbuilding.

The Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer DDG 1000 is floated out of dry dock at the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard.

The Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer DDG 1000 is floated out of dry dock at the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard.

The first of three DDG 1000 stealth destroyers, the 610 foot long USS Zumwalt, will perform traditional sea control missions and project power ashore. From the ship’s new striking tumblehome hull – designed to “pierce” waves and be less visible to enemy radar – to the ship’s Integrated Power System, USS Zumwalt – the largest destroyer the U.S. Navy has ever built – is armed with numerous advanced technology and survivability systems designed to combat the threats of today as well as those of coming decades. Equipped with an Integrated Power System, the Advanced Gun System, SPY-3 radar and MK 57 launcher, USS Zumwalt will enable the Navy’s dominance on the seas for decades in the future.

Integrated Power System is an all-electric power plant that generates the ship’s total distributable electric power while also converting this power for all ship loads, including propulsion, combat systems and ship services. This advanced power plant provides up to 78 megawatts of power, enough electricity to power about 47,000 American homes.

Building to the future, USS Zumwalt has some flexibility and modularity attributes. Its impressive capacity to generate power makes the ship the perfect platform for future deployment of railgun and laser weapons. USS Zumwalt has the space and extra power available to accommodate these future weapon systems when they become available to the fleet.

The Advanced Gun System is a unique weapon system that can fire a 155 millimeter Long Range Land Attack Projectile with ranges to 70 miles, allowing the surface fleet to provide unprecedented ranges and accurate fire support to the Marines, the Army and Special Operations Forces ashore.

The SPY-3 radar is an advanced anti-ship cruise missile/periscope detection radar and excels in the very challenging radar environment close to land.  With high-accuracy, narrow beam width and wide frequency bandwidth, SPY-3 executes discrimination of low-altitude targets and target illumination for SM-2 and Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles.

An artist's rendering of DDG 1000.

An artist’s rendering of DDG 1000.

 

MK 57, the next generation of Peripheral Vertical Launch System, is installed on the outside of the ship and encased in four-inch steel plate armor in order to contain the exhaust of hotter burning missiles. The 80 cells provide an array of vertically launched ordnance to include the Standard Missile, Vertical Launched ASROC, ESSM and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.  This system features an open architecture, modular electronics design provides a significant advantage for the integration of new missile systems without requiring modification of the launcher control software.

USS Zumwalt will increase the Navy’s ability to assure access, ensuring the nation’s ability to influence events through all phases of conflict. Built with an eye to life cycle cost reduction, the ship will be able to affordably keep pace with the threat faced by our future Navy.

Whether executing missions independently or as an integral part of a naval, joint, or coalition force, these multi-mission surface warships will provide significant, full spectrum capability enabling sea control in the open ocean and littorals for the decades to come.

 

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