Skip to content

DDG-1000 Zumwalt Joins The US Fleet In 2016

April 18, 2014

US Zumwalt LCS

Last Saturday, April 12, the US Navy’s first littoral stealth destroyer was christened at the Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine.

The DDG-1000 Zumwalt, named after a reformist admiral, is scheduled to undergo further sea trials until it’s commissioned and deploys under the command of Captain James A. Kirk.

Engineered to simplicity, the DDG-1000 Zumwalt and its siblings 1001 Michael Monsoor and1002 Lyndon B. Johnson are the only warships of their kind. 610 feet long and displacing at an estimated 15,000 tons, the Zumwalts are latter day dreadnoughts with no comparable rivals.

The idea for a littoral warship isn’t a new one. The Zumwalts, however, began as the obscure DD(X) program in 2001 and were conceived as a replacement for the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which remain the US Navy’s backbone. As the program evolved by 2007 only three of the original 32 were eventually scheduled for completion. The Zumwalt-class are now billed as “multi mission” vessels ideal for supporting amphibious operations in distant shores. The strategic thinking behind the Zumwalts are for clashes against maritime rivals like China and Russia, who are rebuilding their respective navies.

It comes as no surprise the DDG-1000 Zumwalt is already scheduled to join the Pacific fleet. Construction began on DDG-1000 in 2009 and by 2011 the keel had been laid at the Bath Iron Works owned by General Dynamics. A photo gallery of DDG-1000 coming together can be viewed here, courtesy of the US Navy.

But littoral warships are a team effort and it took at least five years before the DDG-1000 Zumwalt was completed. Several powerful defense contractors remain involved in the Zumwalt program, along with dozens of smaller subcontractors.

Almighty Specifications

While General Dynamics assembled the hull, the angular deckhouse and hangar for the DDG-1000’s helicopter complement–two MH-60’s–was fabricated by Ingalls Shipbuilding, the company behind the Arleigh Burke-class, who also built the Zumwalt’s impressive Peripheral Vertical Launch Modules (PVLS).

The Zumwalt-class’ Tumblehome bow offers a limited cross section of basic shapes and angles that gives it lower radar visibility. This is why its profile is like a knife cutting the water…or the tip of a sharpened pencil when seen from above.

Combining its design with  extensive composite sandwich panels–made of balsa resin, carbon fiber, and vinyl ester resin–means the DDG-1000 is stealthier. The composite plating on the steel superstructure is also supposed to render the Zumwalt damage resistant and fire retardant.

Internally, the on board software packed in modular enclosures and C4 (command, control, communications, computers) was developed by Raytheon. A wealth of additional information is also provided by Raytheon about the DDG-1000’s capabilities via a product page.

The DDG-1000’s armaments, which consist of missiles and guns, are divided between Raytheon and BAE Systems. Two bow-mounted 155mm Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) from BAE Systems allow the Zumwalts to bombard onshore targets. Another pair of BAE Systems 57mm MK110 guns serve as CIWS.

The DDG-1000’s electronics suite is just as remarkable. Twin sonar arrays, a towed array, and X-band and S-band radars are monitored from a Total Ship Computing Environment instead of a bridge.

US Raytheon Total Computing Environment

via Raytheon/General Dynamics

Four cell PVLS batteries carry the Zumwalt’s missiles. These cells, arranged separately throughout the hull, are armed with Raytheon’s Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM), Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles, and rocket torpedoes.

A well-publicized characteristic of the Zumwalt-class is its crew. Although the largest surface combatant in the US Navy, it only takes 158 sailors to run one Zumwalt-class destroyer.

Each Zumwalt-class destroyer carries two Rolls-Royce RR4500 electric turbine engines. While this doesn’t mean DDG-1000 has unlimited range, it does guarantee the Zumwalt is never underpowered:

   Rolls-Royce scope of supply on the USS Zumwalt includes two Main Turbine Gensets, generating 36MW each, and two Auxiliary Turbine Gensets, generating 4MW each, providing a total of 80 MW for total ship power, in addition to the fixed pitch propellers.

Based on Rolls-Royce’s specifications, the Zumwalt’s have the same propulsion as large container vessels, which usually reach speeds of 26 or 30 knots.

Together with an overhauled amphibious capability, larger aircraft carriers, and integrated information warfare systems, the Zumwalt’s are the US Navy’s deadliest force projection tool for future wars.