Navy’s New Class Destroyer Sailing – The USS Zumwalt

The DDG-1000 Zumwalt is not just the latest addition to US Navy’s fleet, it’s the first of a revolutionary new class of next-generation naval warships. These aren’t simply improved versions of existing destroyers, but true game-changers in the history of naval warfare. Or in the words of Admiral Harry B. Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, “If Batman had a ship, it would be the USS Zumwalt.” The most clearly visible differences with the Zumwalt are its sharp angles and smooth surface. These features ensure that despite being 40% larger than a standard Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the Zumwalt has a radar cross-section about the size of a fishing boat. Or in practical terms, about 50 times harder to spot on radar than a legacy destroyer.

Which is only part of the ship’s stealth capability, since the designers were worried about concealing this vessel from many other sensor platforms. The Zumwalt’s acoustic signature, used by sonars and submarines to hone in on targets, is approximately as detectable as a super-quiet Los Angeles-class attack submarine. As an added bonus, water sleeting along the ship’s sides, along with passive cool air induction technology integrated into the hull, helps significantly reduce the destroyer’s infrared signature.

Unlike most modern destroyers, the Zumwalt is armed with not one but two long-range cannons, which makes these vessels the Navy’s premier fire support platform. These 6.1-inch (155 mm) Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) can fire regular shells or guided “mini-missiles” at an incredible burst rate of 10 per second, and with out to a range of more than 100 kilometers. All of which greatly exceeds the performance of land-based artillery systems of similar caliber.

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Curiously, the Zumwalt is also the only major warship in the US Navy not equipped with the 20mm Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) for defending against incoming missiles. Inst