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US Navy takes delivery of future USS Zumwalt

Warship Technology: July/Aug 2016

Designed to undertake sustained operations in littoral regions and land attack, USS Zumwalt, the US Navy’s first DDG 1000, will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces, and operate as an integral part of joint and combined expeditionary forces. Delivery of the vessel followed extensive tests, trials and demonstrations of the ship’s hull, mechanical, and electrical systems including ship handling, anchor and mooring systems as well as major demonstrations of the damage control, ballasting, navigation and communications systems.

The design was intended to replace – in a technologically more modern form – the large-calibre naval gun fire capability that the US Navy lost when it retired its Iowa-class battleships in the early 1990s, improve general capability when operating in defended littoral waters, and introduce several new technologies that would be available for use on future US Navy ships. The DDG 1000 was also intended to serve as the basis for the Navy’s long-cancelled CG(X) cruiser.

“[Today] represents a significant achievement for not only the DDG 1000 programme and shipbuilding team but for the entire US Navy,” said Rear Admiral (select) Jim Downey, DDG 1000 programme manager, Program Executive Office Ships. “This impressive ship incorporates a new design alongside the integration of sophisticated new technologies that will lead the US Navy into the next generation of capabilities.”

Innovative features
The 610ft vessel has a number of innovative features, not least its wave-piercing hull design and use of tumblehome to reduce its radar cross section (RCS). The shape of the superstructure and the arrangement of its antennas significantly its RCS, making the ship less visible to radar.

Zumwalt is also the first US Navy surface combatant to employ the Integrated Power System, which has a unique architecture that includes the ability to allocate the vessel’s 78 megawatts (MW) of installed power from the gas turbines to propulsion, ship’s service and combat system loads as required. Each ship in the class has two Advanced Gun Systems, capable of firing Long-Range Land Attack Projectiles (LRLAPs) that have a range of up to 63nm, providing threefold range improvement in naval surface fires coverage. Each ship is equipped with 80 Advanced Vertical Launch System cells for Tomahawk, Evolved Sea Sparrow and Standard missiles, along with Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rockets (ASROC). The ship will employ active and passive sensors and multifunction radar capable of conducting area air surveillance, including overland.

Following delivery and a crew certification period at General Dynamics – Bath Iron Works, the ship will be commissioned in Baltimore on 15 October 2016. USS Zumwalt will then transit to her homeport in San Diego where mission systems activation will continue in parallel with a post-delivery availability. The US Navy continually monitors force readiness and ability to provide the most robust, capable maritime force possible. Stationing destroyers in a West Coast port supports rebalance to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, placing some of its most advanced capabilities there. By 2020, approximately 60% of US Navy ships and aircraft will be based in the region. Bath Iron Works is also constructing follow-on ships, the future Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and Lyndon B Johnson (DDG 1002).

Construction of Zumwalt commenced February 2009 and the ship was launched 29 October 2013. At the time of writing, the ship is conducting hull, mechanical and electrical tests and trials with a subsequent period to follow for combat and mission system equipment installation, activation,
and testing.

Original plans
As highlighted above, the DDG 1000 incorporates a significant number of new technologies – such as the wave-piercing, tumblehome hull design, a superstructure made partly of large sections of composite materials rather than steel or aluminium, an integrated electric-drive propulsion system, total-ship computing system, automation technologies enabling its reduced-sized crew, a dual-band radar, a new kind of vertical launch system (VLS) for storing and firing missiles and the Advanced Gun System – but its development has been far from straightforward and the US Navy originally planned to build many more examples of the class.

When the DD-21 programme was initiated, a total of 32 ships were envisaged. In subsequent years, the planned total for the DD(X)/DDG 1000 programme was reduced to 24, then 16, then to seven, and finally to three. As Congressional Research Service analyst Ron O’Rourke explained in a recent report, the origins of the programme date back to the early 1990s.

With an estimated full load displacement of 15,482tonnes, the DDG 1000 design is roughly 63% larger than the US Navy’s 9,500tonne Aegis cruisers and destroyers, and larger than any US Navy destroyer or cruiser since the nuclear-powered cruiser Long Beach (CGN-9), which was procured in FY1957. The first two DDG 1000s were procured in FY2007 and split-funded (funded with two-year incremental funding) in FY2007-FY2008; the US Navy’s FY2017 budget submission estimated their combined procurement cost at US$9,072.0 million. The third DDG 1000 was procured in FY2009 and split-funded in FY2009-FY2010; the US Navy’s FY2017 budget submission estimates its procurement cost at US$3,666.2 million. The estimated combined procurement cost for all three DDG 1000s – as reflected in the US Navy’s annual budget submission – has grown by US$3,761.1 million, or 41.9%, since the FY2009 budget (that is, the budget for the fiscal year in which the third DDG-1000 was procured).

Realloction of costs
Some of the cost growth was caused by the truncation of the DDG 1000 programme from seven ships to three, which caused some class-wide procurement-rated costs that had been allocated to the fourth through seventh ships to be reallocated to the three remaining ships. It is estimated that the cost growth shown through FY2015 reflects, among other things, a series of incremental, year-by-year movements away from an earlier US Navy cost estimate for the programme, and toward a higher estimate developed by Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).

All three ships in the DDG 1000 programme are being built at General Dynamics – Bath Iron Works, with some portions of each ship being built by HII/Ingalls for delivery to General Dynamics – Bath Iron Works. Raytheon is the prime contractor for the DDG 1000’s combat system (its collection of sensors, computers, related software, displays, and weapon launchers). The US Navy awarded General Dynamics – Bath Iron Works the contract for the construction of the second and third DDG 1000s in September 2011.

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