The U.S. Navy is ready to take charge of the largest, most tech-savvy, sophisticated destroyer, USS Zumwalt, which is currently in Bath, Maine.
The destroyer’s angles makes it 50 times more difficult to detect on radar, and its guns are designed to hit targets 100 miles away. The ship is powered by electricity produced by turbines like those in a Boeing 777. The vessel’s advanced automation will allow the ship to run with a much smaller crew than current destroyers.
The 610-foot vessel is the new first class of warship built at Bath Iron Works since the Arleigh Burke in 1989, and it comes it with a big price tag—a final cost of $4.4 billion.
“We’ve overcome lots of obstacles to get to this point,” said electrician John Upham, of Litchfield, according to AP.
“I think everybody in the shipyard is proud of the work we’ve done,” he added.
The idea for the land attack destroyer was floated more than 15 years ago and then underwent some arrangements. The final design requested a warship with a stealthy shape and advanced gun system that can fire rocket-propelled projectiles with pinpoint precision.
However, the hefty price tag forced the Navy to reduce the 32-ship program down to three. The General Accounting Office warned that the Navy was trying to incorporate too many new technologies into the destroyer.
But everyone seems happy so far.
“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,” said Loren Thompson, senior defense analyst with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute.
Uniforms and personal items of sailors, along with supplies and spare parts are being transported to the ship before the Zumwalt is handed over this week, said the destroyer’s captain, James Kirk.
Some sailors from the 143-member crew have been in Bath for more than 2 years preparing for the handover of the Zumwalt.
Crew members will continue to train to prepare the ship until the opening ceremony in October in Baltimore.
The ship will then set off for its homeport in San Diego for more tests and trials.
Bath Iron Works is now working on the second ship of the program, the Michael Monsoor, which will be baptized next month—then the final ship, the Lyndon B. Johnson.
Jay Wadleigh, president of the largest union at the shipyard, said Bath shipbuilders were especially selected for the program by the Navy.
“I think the way the Zumwalt performed on the three different sea trials was better than anybody expected—us, the Navy and the company,” he said.
The ship is named after Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, who used his position as the Navy’s 19th Chief of Naval Operations to make drastic reforms, according to the Navy’s website.
“The thing that excites me the most is the history behind Adm. Zumwalt,” said Gas Turbine System Technician Mechanical 1st Class Jerome Liverman from Murfreesboro, N.C. “I think he was a great person and just to see this ship grow – the class grow out of his name is very important.”
The Navy made three videos of about 1-2 minutes each about the Zumwalt. Watch them here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.