The USS Zumwalt, the first in a class of three revolutionary U.S. Navy vessels known as the DDG 1000, is set to be christened Saturday in Bath, Maine, at General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works shipyard. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will be the principal speaker.
Zumwalt's eventual homeport has not been finalized, but San Diego is the planned homeport with arrival here expected in mid-to-late 2016.
The guided missile destroyer, named after Adm. Elmo R. “Bud” Zumwalt, features technological advancements designed by Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) that propel the ship far past any competition. The most notable change is in the Total Ship Computing Environment (TSC) -- a single, secure network that controls everything from radars to weapons, and allows for a reduction in manning requirements from nearly 300 sailors on the older generation Arleigh Burkes destroyers, to just over 100 enlisted sailors and 14 officers on the Zumwalt.
The TSC, which controls all shipboard computing applications, ranging from the ship’s lights and machinery control to its radars and weapon systems, allow the ship to run more effectively and efficiently with its sailor-centric interface and high degree of automation.
Additional technological improvements include Electronic Modular Enclosures (each ship has 16), a shipbuilding innovation that packages more than 235 individual electronics cabinets into ready-to-install, “ruggedized” units for easy integration, maintenance and upgrades, and an Integrated Undersea Warfare System.
This system uses two sonar arrays (high and medium frequencies) in one automated, hull-mounted system designed to protect the ship from enemy mines, submarines and torpedoes. Using algorithms, the sonar better enables Zumwalt destroyers to detect, engage and defeat an enemy threat.
The Zumwalt also has an advanced weapon launcher, the MK57 Vertical Launching System, designed to fire missiles for sea, land and air attacks. The MK57’s modular electronic-architecture allows Zumwalt destroyers to quickly transition to new missiles systems by minimizing the need to re-qualify their launchers. The MK57 launchers are contained and protected by the Peripheral Vertical Launch System, which make the launchers and missiles resistant to battle damage and safely isolates them from the crew and shipboard equipment.
The ship’s technology also better protects sailors serving on board the destroyer. The ship’s sleek, stealthy lines disguise the DDG 1000 on enemy radars as a small fishing boat. Each ship carries two 155 mm guns capable of firing long-range projectiles that can strike a target from a distance of 63 nautical miles.
The lead ship and class are named in honor of former Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Elmo R. "Bud" Zumwalt Jr., who served as the 19th CNO from 1970-1974.
Zumwalt was a veteran of World War II, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Following the World War II Battle for Leyte Gulf, he was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat "V" for his valorous actions aboard the USS Robinson. During the Vietnam War, he served as commander of naval forces at Vietnam before being nominated by President Richard Nixon to become CNO in July of 1970. He is credited with implementing a series of policies intended to improve opportunities within the Navy for minorities and women during his tenure as CNO.
"The christening of the future USS Zumwalt represents the beginning of another era of service for this great name," Mabus said. "Just as Admiral Elmo R. 'Bud' Zumwalt helped shape our nation's Navy as the 19th chief of naval operations, DDG 1000 will help shape the future of surface combatants. The sophisticated new technology incorporated aboard this ship, combined with its multi-mission capabilities, will ensure it is a relevant and integral part of our battle force for years to come. This day, however, would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the hundreds of men and women of our nation's industrial base who worked so diligently to help us reach this exciting moment."
In accordance with Navy tradition, the ship's co-sponsors Ann Zumwalt and Mouzetta Zumwalt-Weathers, daughters of Zumwalt, will break a bottle of sparkling wine across the ship's bow on Saturday.
Construction on Zumwalt commenced in February 2009, with the keel laying ceremony held in November 2011, and ship launch successfully completed in October 2013. Zumwalt is 610 feet long is with a displacement of more than 15,000 tons when fully loaded. The ship is expected to join the fleet in 2016.