Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The DDG-1000: America's Newest Destroyer

This past Saturday the Navy christened its newest ship, the DDG-1000 otherwise known as the USS Zumwalt. The Zumwalt is the first completed of three destroyers in its class. The Navy had originally planned to build around 20 Zumwalt style destroyers, but owing the the $3 billion plus price tag, procurement was cut. According to the Navy: "The multi-mission DDG 1000 is tailored for sustained operations in the littorals and land attack, and will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces, and operate as an integral part of joint and combined expeditionary forces." Judging from this statement, it seems the Zumwalt and its sister ships are destined to play a pivotal role in the US 'rebalance' to Asia.

The USS Zumwalt at its christening (April 12, 2014)
The USS Zumwalt's design incorporates many new features into the ship's superstructure, adding greatly to its combat abilities. First and most noticeable, is the ships unique, angular look. The sloped architecture of the hull, known as a "tumblehome" hull, reduces the radar cross section of the ship. This, combined with the composite deckhouse which absorbs radar energy, makes the massive Zumwalt appear the size of a small fishing vessel on radar. A perfect design for operating in anti-access/area denial spaces in the South China Sea.

An artists rendering of the Zumwalt
In addition to its stealthy design, the Zumwalt employs a full arsenal of the most advanced weapons technology in the fleet today. The ship's two main guns, designed by BAE Systems and known as the Advanced Gun System, are capable of firing 10 rounds of 155mm GPS guided Long Range Land Attack Projectiles up to 70 miles. With a magazine of 750 rounds, the Zumwalt's ability to project power from the littoral is unmatched. Supporting the two main guns are 20 four-cell, Raytheon designed MK57 Vertical Launch System tubes. The cells, which will be spread across the hull of the ship and can carry anti-ship and anti-air missiles, give the ship both strong offensive and defensive capabilities. The Zumwalt also features a new advanced propulsion system, the Integrated Power System. The system produces excess power from what is needed to run the ship, and it is theorized that this additional power may someday be used to operate a railgun.

Some of the capabilities of the Zumwalt
The Navy appears to have hit a home run in the design of the Zumwalt; one that will prove its effectiveness time and time again as the naval contest in the Pacific continues to grow in intensity.


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