US Navy’s First General Dynamics Bath Iron Works Zumwalt-class Destroyer to Begin Initial Sea Trials

After seven years of construction and constant delays, the US Navy's DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyer will finally be undergoing initial sea trials in the next couple of months.

“We’re at the stage of construction where there is very little production going on. The ship is built,” Sean Stackley, the Navy’s top official for research, acquisition and development, said Nov. 5.

The DDG-1000 destroyer is the U.S. Navy’s next-generation, guided-missile naval destroyer, leading the way for a new generation of advanced multi-mission surface combat ships. The ships will feature a low radar profile, an integrated power system and a total ship computing environment infrastructure.

Armed with an array of weapons, the Zumwalt-class destroyers will provide offensive, distributed and precision fires in support of forces ashore.

Everything is new, Stackley said. From the propulsion plant, the power distribution – the whole integrated power system – the extraordinarily unique features of the hull form that provide the degree of stealth and survivability, the radar system, the degree of automation that’s incorporated into the ship to enable the reduced-size crew – it’s all new.

The striking and eye-catching new design, which features a “tumblehome” hull optimized for stealth, comes with a new propulsion and power distribution system, an integrated software environment linking practically all of the ship's systems, and caters for a reduced crew of about 140. The major step in the destroyer's development plans will be a builder's sea trial estimated to start December 7.

We did everything from rolling the shafts, bringing up and down systems, testing failure modes, testing watch station effectiveness, Stackley said. You’re limited in terms of radiation – radiating things while next to the pier. But we did everything that we could next to the pier prior to getting underway. We’ll do a check in terms of readiness for sea, and when we’re green we’ll follow suit and get underway. And it’ll be a healthy underway period. We plan on a 7-day underway period for the first builder’s sea trials to shake it down as extensively as possible. In December, if we’re ready.

How the ship does in the initial sea trials will go a long way towards determining if the ship is ready for the much anticipated delivery date in spring of next year.

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