USS Zumwalt begins its sea trails and sets out to prove its worth
Three years ago this month I said that the next ship I would step on would be a cruise ship, as I would sail onboard luxury doing absolutely nothing except relax and enjoy the view. But today, I would go back just to check out the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000). The ship started its sea trials yesterday and I remember talking about this ship before it had a name, when we were getting ready to go underway for some set of trials of our own. Someone said a new ship was coming, one that would replace the Arleigh Burke-class, one that faster and better.
Some of the perks of the new class destroyer:
•Integrated Power System (IPS).
•AN/SPY-3 – Multi-function Radar
•Advanced Gun System
•Total Ship Computing Environment
All these perks are theories that are being put to the real test today. I say theory because no matter how much you test, how much you plan, and do your due diligence, once you get underway all bets are off. Something’s bound to break and it’s up to the crew to make sure that they get home safely.
The Zumwalt is considered an ell-electric ship. It has two Rolls Royce gas turbine engines driving electric generators, with two Rolls Royce RR4500 turbine generators. (I would not be surprised if the engineering crew onboard have named these four puppies – the pre-com crew onboard my ship had four unique names for our engines. Those names persevered till about the time we went through INSURV.)
According to a fact sheet on the navy.mil website, design features that make the “IPS architecture unique include the ability to provide power to propulsion, ship’s service, and combat system loads from the same gas turbine prime movers. DDG 1000′s power allocation flexibility allows for potentially significant energy savings and is well-suited to enable future high energy weapons and sensors.”
The AN/SPY-3 radar operates over S-band and X-band frequencies. The reason it goes so well with the Zumwalt-class is because it requires little supervision. According to Raytheon officials, it doesn’t need a manned display console. Therefore, no extra body to get up in the middle of the night to stand watch, but it will conduct surveillance over air, land, and sea.
The ship carries 155mm guns that can find their mark from as far as 63 nautical miles, MK57 VLS, Tomahawks, SM-3s, Sea Sparrow missiles, and an arsenal of weapons for force protection. Why? Because guns… that’s why.
And to bring everything together is the Total Ship Computing Environment. Advancing to the next level of warfare, this computer system integrates onboard systems together. The encrypted network manages applications ranging from radar to ship’s lights to weapons. Now, imagine being the person in charge of so much power? I would love to take a trip on one of these just to experience for myself how it all works.
This ship seems to fuse together jobs. On Arleigh-burke class, the crew should be around 300, but the Zumwalt-class can accommodate a crew of 142.
Captain James A. Kirk is in charge of all those souls. Check out his interview from last year if you have a chance: http://news.usni.org/2014/04/11/interview-zumwalt-commander-capt-james-kirk.
The ship has been through a lot of setbacks to be able to just get underway. Is it better or faster? Only actions will prove if the ship is worth the $4.4 billion it cost to make, but for now lets enjoy the technology and wish the crew fair winds and following seas.