The U.S. Navy is gliding into the future. After a long process, the Navy is ready to introduce its most technologically advanced warship ever, the USS Zumwalt, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday.
The Zumwalt, designated DDG-1000, is the largest destroyer ever created for the Navy, and it represents the first new kind of ship built at Bath Iron Works in Maine since 1989. The shipyard is expected to deliver the ship to the Navy this week.
The ship will be commanded by Capt. James Kirk, the Associated Press reported. Sailors' uniforms, belongings, supplies and extra parts were being loaded onto the ship in preparation for its first crew.
“We've overcome lots of obstacles to get to this point,” electrician John Upham told the Tribune. “I think everybody in the shipyard is proud of the work we've done.”
The Zumwalt stretches 610 feet and has a special angular shape that makes it 50 times more difficult for radar to detect its presence. But it’s not just the ship itself that is breaking into the future. New guns can hit targets close to 100 miles away, and much of the ship’s functions can be automated, so it needs a smaller crew than traditional destroyers. It uses power produced by turbines like those in a Boeing 777.
The Navy has long awaited the arrival of the ship. The Pentagon said its delivery was three years late in its Selected Acquisition Report this year. In 2010, the project was slated to be done around September 2013, and last year it was expected in November 2015, Bloomberg News reported in April.
The idea for a land attack destroyer began more than 15 years ago and was refined to become the Zumwalt Class. However, rising costs forced the Navy to scale down its plans for a 32-ship fleet to just three vessels. The final cost of the ship is expected to be at least $4.4 billion.
“Zumwalt was a challenge to assemble because of all the new technologies, but sea trials show it is a world-class warship with unique capabilities,” Loren Thompson, senior defense analyst with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, told the Tribune.
The ship’s crew has been preparing to take control of it for more than two years, and the ship will officially be commissioned at a ceremony in October. After that, it will travel to San Diego for more testing.