Navy's Stealthy High-Tech Destroyer Sets Sail

U.S. Navy’s largest, newest and most high-tech destroyer has set sail in the Atlantic Ocean for a series of “Sea Trials”

To prepare the ship for operational service.

Called the USS Zumwalt, or DDG 1000, the new stealthy ship is engineered with a radar and acoustic signal-evading Tumblehome hull design, - a sleek, modern configuration designed to help the ship avoid detection from enemy ships, aircraft and submarines, Navy officials said.

Sea Trials for the 600-foot-long, 15,000-ton ships will, among other things, assess the functionality and performance of the ship’s many next-generation technologies in a maritime or at-sea environment, Navy officials said.

Over the next several days, the Navy will demonstrate many of the ship's key systems and technologies,” Matthew Leonard, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior.

Embarked on the ship are representatives from the ship’s maker Bath Iron Works, officials from the Navy's DDG 1000 Program Office, SUPSHIP Bath, and various technical subject matter experts, Leonard added.

“The Navy and the shipbuilder are executing the test program of this first of class ship with extreme rigor and this initial at-sea period will allow for earlier issue identification and risk mitigation. We look forward to learning a great deal during trials as we work together with the shipbuilder to deliver Zumwalt to the fleet,” he added

First envisioned in the 1990s, the DDG 1000 is a high-tech, multi-mission guided missile destroyer designed for land-attack and littoral missions, among other things. A large part of the slightly less than $4 billion per-ship costs are likely wrapped up in many of the next-generation technologies engineered into the ship.

The first of three planned Zumwalt-class destroyers, the DDG 1000, was christened in April of last year. In April of 2009, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works was awarded a contract from the Navy to build three Zumwalt-class destroyers. DDG 1001 is already more than 75-percent complete and fabrication of DDG 1002 began in April of last year, Navy officials said.

The DDG 1000 is built with what’s called dual-band sonar technology which uses both medium and high-frequency detection; Medium sonar frequency is engineered to detect ships and submarines, whereas high-frequency sonar adds the ability to avoid sea-mines, officials with Raytheon, the technologies’ maker, said.

The ship also has a 155mm long range, precision-capable gun called the Advanced Gun System made by BAE Systems. The weapon can, among other things, fire a munition called the Long-Range Land Attack Projectile, which can strike target at ranges out to 64 nautical miles.

In 2008, the Zumwalt-class destroyer program was truncated from plans to build at least seven ships down to three. Lowering the number of planned ships reduces the quantity of materials needed for purchase, thereby raising prices on what needs to be procured to build the ships.

The platform is engineered to have a reduced crew size of 158 sailors including the air-detachment, compared to the roughly 300 sailors needed aboard Navy Aegis destroyer and cruisers. This is due to an effort to increase automation and computer technology on board the ship to improve performance and reduce operating and support costs.

Also, with a displacement of 15,482 tons, the DDG 1000 is 65-percent larger than existing 9,500-ton Aegis cruisers and destroyers.

The ship's integrated power system, which includes its electric propulsion, helps generate up to 78-megawatts of on-board electrical power, something seen as key to the future when it comes to ship technologies and the application of anticipated future weapons systems such as laser weapons and rail guns.

The ship is also built with a new kind of vertical launch tubes that are engineered into the hull near the perimeter of the ship. Called the Peripheral Vertical Launch System, the tubes are integrated with the hull around the ship's periphery in order to ensure that weapons can keep firing should the ship be damaged.

Instead of having all of the launch tubes in succession or near one another, the DDG 1000 has spread them out in order to mitigate risk in the event attack, Raytheon officials said.

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