USS Zumwalt, the Navy’s newest Pacific Fleet guided-missile destroyer
SAN DIEGO: The Navy’s most technically-advanced guided-missile destroyer, the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), recently departed San Diego for its first operational underway. The new warship set out so her captain and crew can train, test, operate, and ready her for future deployment.
The USS Zumwalt is the first in its class. With integrated cutting-edge combat systems, weapons, and engineering plants. The warship features a new stealth design that makes it virtually undetectable on enemy radar.
At 100 feet longer and 13 feet wider than the tried-and-true Arleigh Burke-class destroyers the Zumwalt is the largest of the next-gen multi-mission destroyers. The 610-foot overall length provides more space for an expanded array of surface, submarine, and aviation missions.
You can’t take just one look at this maritime floating fortress of firepower. It is impressive and worthy of inspection.
“The milestone demonstrates the U.S. Navy’s commitment to advancing the lethality of its surface combatants,” says the Navy.
Naval bases are home ports for a ready response.
Naval crews deliver troops, aircraft, artillery, landing craft, and ordnance to crises and conflicts. All the while protecting or defending Sailors and Marines from surface-to-air and surface-to-surface attacks.
A next gen-class destroyer, Zumwalt’s crews challenge adversaries in new ways. The USS Zumwalt brings new options to form sea power groups ready to adapt to the demands of any crisis or conflict, big or small. Each naval base readies ships and crews to deploy. The captain and Sailors learn their ship, mastering each ship’s unique controls.
The USS Zumwalt joins an ‘at ready’ inventory consisting of aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, guided-missile destroyers, littoral combat ships, submarines, frigates, dock landing ships, corvettes, hospital ships and more.
A ship like the Zumwalt is as powerful as the crew who operate it.
The USS Zumwalt falls under operational control of U.S. 3rd Fleet, leaders of the naval forces in the Pacific. In December 2015, Zumwalt began sea trial preparatory training. Commanding officer, Capt. Andrew Carlson and his crew are bringing this formidable ship to life. To date, port calls have included Esquimalt, British Columbia, and Ketchikan, Alaska.
According to Carlson, the crew was excited to visit Ketchikan, further adding that Alaska is a strategic location when it comes to maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
“We value Alaskan communities like Ketchikan for their consistent support of our nation’s military,” says Carlson.
Ketchikan was not just sight-seeing for the Zumwalt crew. The ship visited the Southeast Alaska Acoustic Measurement Facility (SEAFAC). SEAFAC is part of the Naval Surface Warfare Center community providing engineering expertise and technical assessment.
SEAFAC – Run silent, run surface, run deep.
As the Navy’s primary acoustic engineering measurement facility in the Pacific, SEAFAC performs Research Development Test and Evaluations (RDT&E) to determine the sources of radiated acoustic noise. They are tasked to assess both ship and submarine vulnerabilities and to develop quieting measures for the Navy’s ships.
Carlson says the expertise gained at SEAFAC is critical to help mature Zumwalt’s operations and ultimately deliver its capabilities to the fleet.
Capt. Carlson adds, “It’s a true privilege to work with this incredible crew. Several key technologies and operating concepts are revolutionary, and this crew is earnestly and resiliently paving the way for the future of the surface Navy by mastering those systems…”
Zumwalt’s stealth advantage favors tactical success.
So how do you hide the most advanced ship on the world’s oceans? And sneak up on one’s adversaries before they know you are there?
The Zumwalt is undeniably dramatic. Streamlined with a jagged angular silhouette, the ship’s presence tricks the eye from the air or across the water.
The unique hull design allows the ship to literally disappear. The ships radar cross-section is similar to a small fishing boat, despite its large size.
A tumblehome hull is a naval design that features the inward slope of the upper part of the sides of a boat or ship.
Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) spokesperson Colleen O’Rouke says, “The USS Zumwalt’s wave-piercing tumblehome ship design, shape, and antenna arrangement significantly reduce cross section and acoustic output, making the ship less visible to enemy radar.”
NAVSEA lists other Zumwalt (DDG-1000) advanced systems as:
1. The DDG-1000 is the first U.S. Navy surface combatant to employ an innovative and highly survivable Integrated Power System (IPS). The IPS architecture is unique because of the power for propulsion, ship’s service, and combat system all load from the same gas turbine prime movers. This power flexibility allows for significant energy savings and is well-suited to enable future high energy weapons and sensors.
2. The Peripheral Vertical Launch System (VLS) is second to none. The VLS cells are larger than similar cells on other ships. The destroyer executes jaw-dropping firepower, expanded range capabilities and is built, in all capacities, to fire larger and more advanced land and anti-ship missiles in the future.
3. The DDG-1000 performs a wide range of deterrence, power projections, sea command and control missions as these are its purpose.
The lighter side of the DDG-1000, postal office and store operations combined.
This newest guided-missile destroyer hosts both a post office and a ship’s store – two completely different operations in one custom space.
Ship’s Serviceman 1st Class (SW/AW) Edward Carr, a 19-year sailor from Los Angeles has been chosen to be the first sailor to operate the ship’s store while also serving as custodian of postal effects.
It takes thorough training and getting comfortable with inspections and forms. Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) was ready to assist with teaching supply and postal operations.
For Carr, it is an exciting role for the young sailor that goes beyond that tactical duties. Both a ship’s store and the ability to get a letter from home are long associated with crew morale levels.
“Whether I’m selling you a bag of chips or delivering your mail from back home in the middle of the ocean, my job is to improve morale,” said Carr. “You need morale to fight and win.”
Navy’s advanced stealth ship called costly, controversial – what new defense system isn’t?
The Zumwalt-class of destroyers is composed of three ships, the USS Zumwalt, the USS Michael Monsoor, and the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson; all at various stages in their journey to one day join the fleet.
U.S. Naval Institute estimated in 2016 the cost for 3 Zumwalt-class destroyers at 22.5 billion (excluding Research and Development adds), making each ship cost approximately 7.5 billion.
Innovation doesn’t come out of a box with instructions or perfection.
Advanced ideas are perfected over time and testing. For some, finding a flaw creates doubt of purpose and money spent. And they question. For others, finding a flaw or cost issue is an opportunity to polish design and performance. The Zumwalt is polishing and perfecting capabilities while in operational use.
USNI News reported in July 2018 on engine turbine blade damage for the USS Michael Monsoor.
Rear Adm. William Galinis told USNI News that there were no signs of malfunctioning of the engine during sea trials. The damage was discovered in post-trial inspections.
Summarizing a Jan 2019 USNI News report that updates a 2017 USNI News report on the DDG-1000 Advanced Gun System:
The 2017 report talks about retooling the Advanced Gun System (AGS). The original gun design planned to support troops on land from the littorals (coastal waters). Plans changed to retool the AGS into a blue water (further out) surface strike combatant.
Hence, they field both maritime and land-attack missiles. The trouble was the [blue water] AGS cost of ordnance.
Lockheed Martin designed the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) system. Each rocket-assisted guided projectile comes in at about $1 million. The service’s plan was to buy 2,000. Certainly, the surface Navy excitement of the capability exists. The plan is on hold for now. Zumwalt’s combat system testing continues, apart from the AGS.
China is building destroyers too.
Business Insider, August 2018, offers a glimpse at ever-ready China,
“Moving at top speed to build up a global blue-water navy to safeguard its maritime interests, China has launched four Type 055 guided-missile destroyers in the past 13 months – two simultaneously in July – and is building four more.
The home-built warships – which analysts have called the second most powerful globally – are to serve as the primary escorts for People’s Liberation Army aircraft carrier strike groups,” Business Insider reports.
Iran’s counterweight to U.S. sea presence.
“‘A flotilla’ from Iran’s navy will visit the western Atlantic Ocean in the spring, according to Tehran’s official news agency,” Navy Times reports in January 2019.
”In an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency published Friday, Rear Adm. Touraj Hasna Moqaddam said that the cruise ‘would take five months to complete’ and feature Iran’s newest domestically-built destroyer, the Sahand.”
”Moqaddam’s words echo similar announcements by other senior Iranian leaders telegraphing Atlantic deployments in recent years as a visible counterweight to ongoing U.S. warships that routinely sail the Persian Gulf,” says Navy Times.
Sea surface war is an abiding threat.
According to Naval History and Naval Command, the Persian Gulf was deadly in April 1988. The United States pledged to defend Kuwaiti tankers as the conflict between Iran and Iraq went from land to sea.
The U.S. frigate Samuel B. Roberts suffered heavy damage from an Iranian mine plate which released two hundred and fifty pounds of TNT.
In retaliation, the U.S. struck back, sinking Iran’s (first) Sahand, a frigate warship that continued to attack U.A.E. oil platforms and shot at U.S. A-6E warplanes.
Crew of the Zumwalt – each day you make history …with revolutionary magnitude.
It all adds up to operational stability and the U.S. owning a strategic advantage.
Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus says, “Our Navy and our Marine Corps, uniquely, provide presence – around the globe, around the clock – ensuring stability, reassuring allies, deterring adversaries, and providing the nation’s leaders with options in times of crisis.”
“My crew has been looking forward to continued testing and operations at sea, leveraging the newly installed capabilities of this platform,” says Carlson. “Our primary focus is executing a safe underway, while building both competence and confidence in operating Zumwalt across the spectrum of naval warfare.”
Featured Photo: An artist rendering of the Zumwalt class destroyer DDG 1000, a new class of multi-mission U.S. Navy surface combatant ship. U.S. Navy photo illustration/Released