On Sunday, the US Navy announced that, after a long wait, it will unveil its most technologically-advanced warship to date, the USS Zumwalt. The vessel, developed in Maine’s Bath Iron Works shipyard, will be the largest destroyer ever built for the US Navy.
The $4.4 billion ship will depart later this week, commanded by US Navy Captain James Kirk. The USS Zumwalt was initially slated to be ready in September 2013, but technical challenges delayed the destroyer’s christening by almost three years.
"The Zumwalt was a challenge to assemble because of all the new technologies," explained senior defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, "but sea trials show it is a world-class warship with unique capabilities."
Jay Wadleigh, president of the shipyard union, says that the long wait will be worth it, stating that the Navy picked the Bath Iron Works shipyard because "they knew the job would be done right."
"I think the way the Zumwalt performed on the three different sea trials was better than anybody expected – us, the Navy and the company," said Wadleigh.
So what does $4.4 billion buy you?
The next generation destroyer stretches 610 feet at the waterline, with a unique angular design that makes it 50 times more difficult for radar to detect its presence at sea.
The destroyer not only can avoid detection on the high seas, but it is also arguably the most deadly battleship in the US fleet. The USS Zumwalt comes with firing cannons that can hit sea or land targets over 100 miles away. The high speed destroyer is powered by turbines inspired by the Boeing 777 airplane and is claimed to be able to top 35 mph.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new destroyer is that its functions are largely automated, and the ship requires a crew of only 140.