Dream Destroyer: How Zumwalt Didn't Become the Destroyer of the Future

Dream Destroyer: How Zumwalt Didn't Become the Destroyer of the Future
Dream Destroyer: How Zumwalt Didn't Become the Destroyer of the Future

On Wednesday, November 23, it became known that the US Navy's super destroyer Zumwalt had been stuck in Panama for about ten days, until specialists repair the ship's power plant, which had failed for the second time in two months. Due to the nature of the project, until the repair is completed, the most modern US ship is a de-energized and useless, very expensive mountain of metal afloat. The Central Naval Portal tells how dreams of the best destroyer on the planet were shattered.

In the early 1990s, the command of the US Navy began to think that it was time to start developing a program of promising warships that would provide the fleet with dominance in the 21st century. The military formulated their requirements for future projects, and it turned out that they want, in essence, ships of a new universal type. Depending on the situation, any of them had to solve completely different tasks - from the destruction of surface and underwater targets and ending with the protection of the compound from an air attack.

Dream Destroyer: How

This was the beginning of the development of the Zumwalt-class destroyers (in the US Navy this class of ships is called destroyer, which means "destroyer" in English). At first, the Pentagon expected to build 32 new destroyers. However, as the design work progressed, the cost of the project as a whole and each ship separately increased markedly. The series underwent a sequential "cut" to 24, and then to seven units. In 2007, the military received $ 2.6 billion to start building two destroyers. A year later, the final decision was made that the third ship of the Zumwalt class would be the last.

On the basis of the project of promising destroyers, it was also planned to create a "cruiser of the XXI century", but in 2010 its development was discontinued when the exorbitant high cost of "Zumwalt" began to get on the nerves of even the representatives of the Pentagon.

The laying down of the lead destroyer took place in November 2011. It was named in honor of the 19th Chief of Naval Operations of the US Navy, Elmo Russell Zumwalt, who fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Improvements and changes to the project continued to be made after that. The ship was launched at the end of October 2013. Even then it became clear that the shipbuilders would not be able to meet the planned deadlines. Therefore, few people were surprised when the transfer of the Zumwalt to the fleet was postponed to 2015. But this was not the last postponement of the completion date for the construction of the ship.

The epic with the introduction of the destroyer into the Navy was quietly moving towards its logical conclusion, when literally a month before the solemn event scheduled for October 15, 2016, the fleet command admitted that during the passage of the destroyer to Norfolk, sea water got into the fuel system and the ship is no longer on the run. However, the repairmen tried and managed to fix everything before the specified time.

By the time Zumwalt was commissioned, the cost of the entire project had grown to an indecent amount - about $ 22 billion, the lion's share of which was spent on research and development work. The cost of building the lead ship has reached $ 4.2 billion. But the command of the Navy did not have time to take a breath, as again such an embarrassment - the failure of the power plant in the Panama Canal, on the way to the home port of San Diego, California.

In general, the power plant "Zumwalt" is presented as one of the "know-how" of the project. The destroyer is equipped with two British-made Rolls-Royce Marine Trent-30 gas turbine units with a total capacity of 95 thousand hp, from which power generators are obtained that feed all the ship's systems. The so-called full electric propulsion system was implemented for the first time and was allegedly required to improve the cruising characteristics of a destroyer. For its impressive dimensions "Zumwalt" really develops a decent speed of up to 30 knots, however, as we see, if the power plant fails, the ship is not only immobilized, but also practically defenseless against the enemy.

We will not rush to conclusions, but two breakdowns of the power plant in a short time, of course, raise certain suspicions about some congenital defects. By the way, the same gas turbine engines are installed on American coastal zone ships (LCS), four of which have failed in the last year under similar circumstances. But even if the "Zumwalt" were all right with the chassis, this project raised too many questions.

Only the "stealth" technologies introduced during the construction did not deserve reproaches, thanks to which the ship with a length of 183 meters looks like a small single-masted sailing vessel on the radar. But the weapons systems have earned a lot of criticism from experts.

In particular, the state-of-the-art 155 mm artillery mounts installed on the Zumwalt can hit targets with guided projectiles at a distance of up to 133 km. However, last week the Pentagon was forced to abandon these ammunition due to their high cost - up to 800 thousand dollars apiece.

In addition, the Zumwalt is equipped with twenty vertical launchers for the Tomahawk cruise missiles, of which the destroyer has 80 units in its ammunition. This figure is not amazing. For example, upgraded Ohio-class nuclear submarines carry 154 Tomahawks, and the cost of refitting them is about four times less than the final price of the Zumwalt.

We apologize for the possibly inappropriate comparison, but if the new US Navy destroyer were a young lady, they could say about it, quoting the classic: "And you are beautiful inappropriately / And you are smart inappropriately."

It is worth noting that, to all appearances, the Pentagon realizes that they missed the Zumwalt somewhat: they are not making any Napoleonic plans for it. Despite the official enlistment in the fleet, the destroyer, according to forecasts, will be able to take part in the operations of the Navy no earlier than 2018. At the same time, the construction of the last generation Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyers continues, another of which was launched last week. The service life of the ships of this project, by the way, has been extended until 2070.

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