15:40 GMT13 July 2020
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    The USS Michael Monsoor, the second Zumwalt-class destroyer made for the US Navy, kicked off sea trials on Monday, the main contractor for the ship announced the same day.

    The Monsoor "is currently on Builders Trials, testing the hull, mechanical and engineering components of the ship," ship maker Bath Iron Works announced, noting that "while all these system are tested pierside, there is no substitute for the real world testing taking place in the Gulf of Maine."

    The company did not provide additional details about the sea trials.

    The ship is named after Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, a US Navy SEAL killed in Iraq in 2006 after he covered a grenade with his body to save SEAL teammates. Monsoor posthumously received a Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush.

    The Zumwalt-class ships feature a tumblehome hull, which means the bow of the ship actually slopes toward the center of the ship (most ships of a destroyer's size have wave-piercing bows). The tumblehome design dates back to the late 1800s, when it was pioneered by the French and Russian navies. The Russian navy ordered the battleship Tseravich from France in 1889, an upgraded version of the France's Jaureguiberry warship.

    In effect, the pyramid shaped hull dramatically changes the Zumwalt's radar cross section, the primary metric used by the US military to determine stealth or low observability characteristics. The 610-foot-long, 15,000-ton vessel has roughly the same radar cross section as that of a 50-foot fishing ship, National Review reported last December.

    Still, the Zumwalt-class destroyers have faced numerous difficulties in their development. Last November the namesake USS Zumwalt had to be towed out of the Panama Canal after suffering engine failure.

    With a sticker price of $4.4 billion per ship and continued technical issues plaguing the Zumwalt program, the Pentagon has faced funding cuts that reduced intended Zumwalt production from 32 vessels to just three. US President Donald Trump's call for a 350-ship US Navy fleet could revive the program, though.


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