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US Navy’s largest destroyer going into water

PTI Bath (US) | Updated on October 21, 2013 Published on October 21, 2013

After embarrassing troubles with its latest class of surface warships, the US Navy is hoping for a winner from a new destroyer that’s ready to go into the water.

So far, construction of the first-in-class Zumwalt, the largest US Navy destroyer ever built, is on time and on budget, something that’s a rarity in new defense programs, officials said. And the Navy believes the ship’s big gun, stealthy silhouette and advance features will make it a formidable package.

The christening of the ship bearing the name of the late Adm Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt was canceled a week ago because of the Federal Government shutdown. Without fanfare, the big ship will be moved to dry dock and floated in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the public christening ceremony featuring Zumwalt’s two daughters will be rescheduled for the spring.

Adm Zumwalt served in destroyers during World War II and was awarded a Bronze Star for valor at the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

As the nation’s youngest chief of naval operations, appointed at age 49 by President Richard Nixon, he fought to end racial discrimination and allowed women to serve on ships for the first time.

Like its namesake, the ship is innovative.

It is so big that Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics subsidiary, built a 32-meter-tall, $ 40 million “Ultra Hall” to accommodate its large hull segments. The ship is 30 meters longer than the existing class of destroyers.

It features an unusual wave-piercing hull, electric drive propulsion, advanced sonar and guided missiles, and a new gun that fires rocket-propelled warheads as far as 160 kilometers.

Unlike warships with towering radar — and antenna-laden superstructures, the Zumwalt will ride low to the water to minimize its radar signature, making it stealthier than other warships.

Originally envisioned for shore bombardment, the ship’s size and power plant that can produce 78 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 78,000 homes, make it a potential platform for futuristic weapons like the electromagnetic rail gun, which uses a magnetic field and electric current to fire a projectile at seven times the speed of sound.

There are so many computers and so much automation that it’ll need fewer sailors, operating with a crew of 158, nearly half the complement aboard the current generation of destroyers.

Published on October 21, 2013
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