Zumwalt Destroyer, Navy's Advanced Warship, Hits the Water in Maine

Image: Zumwalt Destroyer, Navy's Advanced Warship, Hits the Water in Maine

Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013 03:12 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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America's newest battleship, the Zumwalt Destroyer, looks like no other ship built for the U.S. Navy but is one of the most technologically advanced, officials said Monday as the ship floated out of its dry dock in Maine for the first time.

The warship is about as stealth as a vessel the length of two football fields can be, made with clean carbon fiber. It has hidden antennas and radar masts with a low-slung appearance and angles to deflect enemy radar, according to The Associated Press. 

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"The Zumwalt is really in a league of its own," defense consultant Eric Wertheim, author of the "The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World," told the AP.

The ship was scheduled to be have been christened earlier this month with the two daughters of the late Adm. Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt, but the ceremony was canceled because of the partial federal government shutdown.

Zumwalt served as President Nixon's chief of naval operations from 1970 to 1974 and was commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970. He died in 2000.

Smithsonian magazine reported that the 15,000-ton ship, built by General Dynamics at Bath Iron Works in Maine, cost about $7 billion. The Navy is planning to build two more of the ships. The destroyer can operate both in the open ocean and in shallow, offshore waters.

The ship also has an exhaust suppressor to reduce the vessel’s infrared heat while its radar signature will be no larger than a fishing boat, adding to its stealth features. The Smithsonian wrote that Bath Iron Works had to first construct a $40 million facility to build the huge ship.

"It's absolutely massive. It's higher than the tree line on the other side. It's an absolutely huge ship — very imposing. It's massively dominating the waterfront," Amy Lent, executive director of the Maine Maritime Museum, told the Associated Press, who watched the unveiling from her office that is down the river from the shipyard.

Some had complained that the Navy was trying to cramp too much new technology — computer automation, electric propulsion, new radar and new gun — into one very costly ship.

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