On Friday, the Navy provided tours of its single most prized possession – the stealthy Zumwalt destroyer – during the battleship’s first port stop at a Rhode Island naval station as the vessel continues to be prepared for military combat operations amid growing tensions on the high seas with China and Russia.
The 610-foot-long warship has an almost nonexistent radar signature due to its innovative angular design and comes armed with a powerful new cannon system capable of unleashing 600 rocket-powered projectiles at targets as far as 70 miles (113km) away giving the destroyer an unprecedented standoff firing range necessary to challenge access and area denial threats from competitors.
The ship not only looks smaller than other ships on radar despite its massive size, but it also makes lese sound making it nearly impossible to detect and ultimately attack with the potential of leaving opposition naval forces feeling that they are fighting a ghost.
"We have the embodiment of the spirit of technological breakthroughs and the future of our Navy. I think we have the embodiment of Adm. Bud Zumwalt," said Vice Adm. Tom Rowden praising the vessel. "And I think as you combine those, and many other things together, what you really see is tremendous, tremendous opportunity.'
The ship bears the name of Adm. Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, a Bronze Star recipient for his service in World War II who went on to command of small vessels in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. Zumwalt the man has a deep history in US Naval lore having become the youngest chief of naval operations.
The USS Zumwalt’s commander is none other than Captain James Kirk bearing the same name as the commander of Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise which is perhaps a good omen for the hopes that the American military has that the vessel will revolutionize their naval war fighting capabilities.
On the destroyer is a crew of 147 officers and sailors, far fewer than a traditional destroyer given the Zumwalt’s semi-autonomous capabilities, as the US Navy battles the reduction in its force size by means of innovation and technology.
Additional weapons systems are planned to be installed on the ship during a port stop in San Diego with further testing of the vessel and crew training scheduled through 2017 and into 2018. US Naval officials refuse to speculate when the high valued destroyer may grace the seas in battle on its first deployment.