The U.S. Navy’s newest destroyer class will be tested in the Atlantic ocean today, bringing the $4 billion dollar ship closer to joining the fleet. The USS Zumwalt has utilized the tumblehome design to make it the stealthiest destroyer in the world, but with that advantage comes scrutiny. Many critics and professionals have said the tumblehome hull will make the large 600ft long ship unstable in rough seas, raising its stern clear out of the water and breaking its hull in two. The hull design has gone through rigorous testing, complete with the Navy making multiple large scale models with a decade of testing between them, but this still left some to question its ability to operate in the open ocean. Now only time will tell who is right.
The Zumwalt, while being stealthy in the electromagnetic and infrared spectrum, has an impressive armament to boast. The DDG 1000 has a peripheral vertical launch system (PVLS), which consists of 20 four-cell (80 cells total) PVLS situated around the perimeter of the deck . The cells are armored, so if a round or missile breaks through the outer skin of the ship and hits a Tomahawk the blast will be forced outwards, almost akin to reactive armor that’s commonly seen on tanks, but for a different purpose. This will keep the crew alive and may have some effect on deflecting the blast of anti-ship missiles if they were to make it past its formidable defenses. The Zumwalt class also has two 155mm Advanced Gun systems that can fire conventional rounds as well as advanced munitions like the GPS-guided long-range land attack projectile (LRLAP). DDG 1000 will have a sensor and weapons suite optimised for littoral operations and for network-centric warfare.
The Zumwalt class will pack what amounts to supercomputers mounted in damage/shock proof pods, these computers will wage cyber-warfare and run algorithms mapping the path of missiles and shells. The third in class of the zumwalts will receive an even bigger upgrade, railguns. Replacing the the Advanced gun systems, two railguns will be put in there place.
The Zumwalt, as of current, are the only ships in the world that will be able to power these energy hungry weapons, utilizing 2 × Rolls-Royce RR4500 turbine generators putting out 3.8 MW each.
While the ship is designed to thrive and survive in the battlespace of tomorrow, lets see if it can survive the open seas, but this author thinks it will do just fine. While the Navy, like the other services, have made big blunders in the past I have serious doubts that they would invest $4 billion into the world’s most advanced fighting ship to have it only succumb to the will of mother nature.
Special thanks goes out to Kyle Breton for letting us use his photo.