BATH, Maine — The future USS Zumwalt performed “exquisitely” during sea trials conducted in December, and the futuristic first-in-its-class destroyer is slated for delivery to the U.S. Navy in April, Rear Adm. David Gale said Friday at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.
“We took that ship to sea, and I gotta tell you, it was as calm and controlled and as expertly executed as any sea detail surface warrior would be proud of,” Gale said.
The Bath Iron Works-built DDG 1000 — the largest Navy destroyer ever built — left the shipyard Dec. 7 for a weeklong sea trial, including stops in Portland.
“We tested a very complex automated boat handling system right after clearing the sea buoy, we brought up the propulsion plant and, by afternoon of the first day, we were doing 32.8 knots and hard rudders,” Gale said. “It performed exquisitely.”
Gale, commander of Naval Regional Maintenance Command at Naval Sea Systems Command, said the first-in-class Zumwalt is scheduled for a second set of sea trials in February, acceptance trials in March, then delivery in April.
The new Zumwalt line of “stealth destroyers,” all three of which are being built in Bath, has been plagued with cost overruns and production delays, mostly related to the need to work out bugs with new weaponry and guidance systems.
The Zumwalt line originally was introduced to replace the Arleigh Burke class of destroyers, which the Navy has used since the 1980s. However, when cost projections for the Zumwalt line spiked, the Navy chose to stop the Zumwalt line at three ships and restart construction of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.
New technologies on the ship include a multifunction radar system designed to allow the ship to get closer to land without being detected, two advanced gun systems that fire projectiles up to 63 nautical miles, an integrated undersea/anti-submarine warfare detection system and a vertical launching system.
The “tumblehome” hull of the DDG 1000, which slopes inward as the ship rises out of the water, was designed to reduce detectability by radar, but some questioned the ship’s stability.
Notably, Rear Adm. James Downey said the ship accomplished full rudder swings, demonstrating less than eight degrees of list, IHS Jane’s Navy International reported.
“For years, people always looked at it and said, ‘Too much concurrency, too much new stuff, too hard to do and get to sea,’” Gale said.
According to to IHS Jane’s, the DDG 1001, the future USS Michael Monsoor, is 84 percent complete and due to be launched by the end of June. The DDG 1002, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson, is 43 percent complete.
A December 2015 report by the Congressional Research Office estimated the total cost of the first two Zumalts at $8.797 billion, with the third estimated at $3.49 billion.
That cost has increased by 37 percent since the ships were procured in the fiscal year 2009 budget.
BIW spokesman Matt Wickenheiser did not respond to requests for comment this week.