USS Zumwalt Officially Joins the US Navy; will Operate in Asia
The USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), the most powerful and most technologically advanced destroyer in the U.S. Navy and the world, officially joined the United States Seventh Fleet on Oct. 15, and will be assigned to "special operations" where she can make the most of her high tech advantages.
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She was commissioned in Baltimore in a ceremony attended by top Navy brass, including Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., Commander, United States Pacific Command (CDRUSPACOM). The Zumwalt will be assigned to his command.
"It doesn't look like other ships and it does things other ships cannot do," said Mabus of the warship whose sleek tumblehome hull makes it the stealthiest warship on the high seas with a radar cross signature equal to that of a small boat.
"The Navy and the nation are better because of Admiral Zumwalt," said Mabus.
The destroyer also has an advanced power plant and weapon systems that can move the Navy into the future, he noted.
One military analyst said it's likely the Zumwalt and two other sister ships might be used for special operations and intelligence gathering, tasks the ships are suited for because of the technology and weapons they bring.
The sophistication and massive price tag ($4 billion) of the Zumwalt might also mean she won't be used as much for "regular" navy duties such as patrols and show the flag operations.
The ship's offensive fire power lay in its larger vertical launch missile tubes that can fire larger and more advanced land attack and anti-ship missiles. Its 20 MK 57 Peripheral Vertical Launch System modules with a total of 80 cells have a rapid-fire missile launch capability against sea, air and land targets.
It also carries a 155 mm Advanced Gun System in two stealth turrets that fully enclose the gun barrels when these are not in action.
A more dangerous weapon, however, will be the electromagnetic railgun that uses a powerful blast of electromagnetic energy to hurl a streamlined discarding sabot round at speeds as high as Mach 7 or 2,380 meters per second. This kinetic energy is far greater than the energy yield of an explosive shell of greater mass.
The railgun will have a range of over 160 kilometers and will be capable of firing multiple projectiles per minute. Each hyper-velocity round weighs some 10 kilograms and could cost about US$25,000 compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single high-explosive missile.
The Zumwalts are the only warships in the world that can produce the tremendous electrical power needed to fire a railgun. Each Zumwalt can generate 78 megawatts of power from its integrated power system, far more than is necessary to fire this electrically driven weapon.
Reports said the US Navy plans to arm the USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-003) with the world's first operational naval railgun in the early 2020s.
"If Batman had a ship, it would be the USS Zumwalt," said Admiral Harris.