Video: Navy Capt. Describes "Stormy Seas" On Board the Stealthy USS Zumwalt

Warrior Maven

Warrior Video Above: USS Zumwalt Commander Capt. Carlson Describes Riding the Stealthy Ship in Stormy Seas

By Kris Osborn

(Washington, D.C.) When faced with high winds, up to 20-foot waves and dangerously rough seas -- which Navy ships can survive? … and continue to wage war on the open sea?

Would the new stealthy USS Zumwalt destroyer capsize or suffer extreme damage if its wave-piercing Tumblehome hull were subject to massively dangerous stormy sea conditions?

Such questions, often put to the test with new ships during “sea-trials,” were of particular relevance with the Zumwalt, as it is a first-in-class high-tech warship built with a sleek, more linear, stealthy hull. There have been persistent questions as to whether the ship might have stability problems in dangerous sea states, given that it does not have a standard “flare” shaped ship hull used by most destroyers and carriers. Rather, it has a thinner, sharper, smaller wave-piercing hull intended to increase stealth, maneuverability and speed.

The answer, according to the Commanding Officer of the USS Zumwalt Capt. Andrew Carlson, is that the ship has remarkable, if even somewhat surprising, stability.

“We took advantage of a Gulf of Alaska storm which reached Sea State 6 conditions. We were able to drive around in that at full power,” (Sea State 6: A world Meteorological Organization Standard specifying 13 - to 20 foot waves and rough seas). I had some hesitations and I knew the ship rode differently, but I would rather ride this ship in heavy seas,” Carlson said recently during a presentation at the Surface Navy Association Symposium, Arlington.

Carlson explained that, while the rough seas were as always nerve-racking, the ship seemed to “come back” from a roll caused by extremely rough seas. He said that during the heavy storm, “green water waves were coming up on the bow.”

“You get used to the roll period. It is short. If you are working on top on a cruiser in rough seas, you wonder if you are going to come back (roll back flat in rough seas). With Zumwalt, we don’t experience that. You get used to finer oscillations,” Carlson said.

Carlson, who said the Navy still has work to do assessing and preparing the ship for war, said “these sorts of lessons quiet the anxiety.”


Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army - Acquisition, Logistics& Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

--- Kris Osborn, Managing Editor ofWARRIORMAVEN (CLICK HERE) can be reached

Comments (2)
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Karl -Moderator
Karl -Moderator

If a Zumwalt can perform well in rough seas... do you think it might re-ignite a debate about whether the Navy should consider acquiring more? Let us at Warrior know what you think - Karl - Warrior Moderator


13 to 20 ft. seas are no big hills for a stepper. I've been in a 32 ft. sailboat in the lower rage of that off Miami and we were concerned and uncomfortable (and knew it would not last more than the day), but we, without much experienced crew, managed. I have also been on ocean liners (in '59 & '60), once on the SS United States, with 40-50 ft. waves. The SS U.S. plowed on through, though some passengers got hurt as it rocked and rolled through a north Atlantic gale (a residual tropical storm or hurricane) with aplomb. A warship should be able to handle that. Maybe that, rather than the budget, explains why the littoral combat ships are being scrapped.