U.S.S. Zumwalt: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Published:6:54 pm EDT, November 1, 2013| Updated:7:01 pm EDT, November 1, 2013|
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The USS Zumwalt, a new Zumwalt-class Destroyer, was launched this Monday by the US Navy. Here's 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know about this impressive new ship.

1. It Has a Controversial New Hull Design

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The new hull design may look futuristic, and it is: the radar signature of the destroyer is virtually identical to that of a small fishing boat. Still, the hull was not without its detractors.

Prior to the ships long awaited release, Naval architect Ken Brower opined that if the ship were in heavy seas, it would essentially "roll over." However, a 1/4 size version of the USS Zumwalt was constructed and it proved seaworthy.

A quarter size version of the Zumwalt, called the Sea Jet, passed various tests indicating the seaworthiness of the "tumblehome" design.

A quarter size version of the Zumwalt, called the Sea Jet, passed various tests indicating the seaworthiness of the "tumblehome" design.

2. It Is a 'Harbinger' of a New Generation of Navy Ship

One of America's foremost Naval experts, Norm Polmar, put it thusly:

“The Zumwalt introduces new hull form and machinery concepts that could be the harbinger of the next generation of surface warships. In some respects the advancements are comparable to the Monitor of Civil War fame that revolutionized naval ship design.”

The ship has enough power aboard it to power 47,000 American homes due to its advanced power plant technology. Because of this, Norm says that the ship will be the perfect platform for weapons like rail guns and lasers. Yes, lasers.

A US military laser abord the USS Ponce, capable of destroying drones or hostile boats. Image Credit:  US Navy via US News

A US military laser abord the USS Ponce, capable of destroying drones or hostile boats. Image Credit: US Navy via US News

3. The Zumwalt Cost About 3.5 Billion Dollars to Produce

Essentially, the Zumwalt-class destroyers have been riddled with problems from the get-go and this is largely due to their tremendous price. In 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the Department of Defense's budget would end the production of the ships after three were produced.

The initial run was planned at 32 Zumwalt-class destroyers.

While generally, the first of a new military craft is incredibly expensive, and costs go down as more are created, according to Wikipedia, even "the second [Zumwalt} is to cost approximately $2.5 billion," indicating that prices of the destroyers are exorbitant, despite an established production line. Due to the Nunn-McCrudy amendment, the line of Zumwalt destroyers had to be eliminated.

Because of the high costs, the NAVY's fleet will continue to use Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. While sufficiently ahead of every other country's NAVYs, these destroyers are not as equipped to fire lasers or rail guns.

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4. The Zumwalt Class is named after Elmo Zumwalt

Zumwalt was an American naval officer and the youngest person to serve as Chief of Naval Operations. He played a major role in military and received numerous accolades and awards.

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Zumwalt also made changes to US Navy policies that improved Navy life and worked for better race relations. Following his Navy career, he embarked on an unsuccessful bid to enter the US Senate.

5. The Captain of the USS Zumwalt is Captain James A. Kirk Akin to a Certain Star Trek Captain

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The Bethesda, Maryland native has served a variety of naval craft including other destroyers, cruisers, and frigates. This will likely be the peak of his career, however, as this ship shoots lasers beams.

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