Billed as the Navy’s stealth wonder-ship of the future, the USS Zumwalt destroyer has turned into a procurement boondoggle. On November 22, while the world watched, the U.S. Navy’s newest, most complex warship ground to a stop in the middle of the Panama Canal, both propellers seized, leaving the ship dead in the water.
The warship, the USS Zumwalt, DDG-1000, had to be towed out of the canal. While not as embarrassing as watching our sailors being taken hostage by Iran and then publicly humiliated, nonetheless it was pretty embarrassing. Yes, all new classes of ships have teething problems, but this is at least the third major “engineering casualty” that the USS Zumwalt has experienced over the last few months, and it is emblematic of a defense-procurement system that is rapidly losing its ability to meet our national-security needs.
The Zumwalt was going to be the United States’ 21st-century, cruiser-sized, super destroyer that would allow us to dominate the world’s oceans and littorals for the next 50 years. The Navy made big promises: The two overarching goals for the program were that the ship would be very stealthy and that it would set new standards in reducing crew size.
Another major element of its raison d’être, was that it would be able to supply the Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) capability the Navy has been promising the Marines since it retired the last of the modernized Iowa-class battleships in 1992.
This really big warship was going to anchor the Navy’s ability to project power into the littorals. Its 15,000 to 16,000 tons of displacement would be crammed full of new and revolutionary technologies such as the Integrated Power System, the Linux-powered Total Ship Computing Environment Infrastructure (TSCEI), and, of course, the Advanced Gun System. Its massive generating capacity would allow it to power the energy-hungry lasers and railguns of the future.
Its defining glory, its stealth, would allow the Zumwalt to undertake missions that other less stealthy ships could not. (end of excerpt)
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