"The most capable destroyer in history" will be christened at Bath Iron Works for the U.S. Navy, signaling a new age of advanced technology.
The missile destroyer is the first DDG 1000 produced. Dubbed the USS Zumwalt, it will provide missile and gun support for landed troops, having the ability to equip and fire advanced air missiles, rail guns and lasers. The newest destroyer is the first of America's "stealth destroyers," according to Stars and Stripes.
In November 2011, the Navy introduced the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer "as a transformation in the traditional design of destroyers that would make surface combatants more versatile, more survivable and more relevant to combat ashore," defense industry analyst Loren Thompson said Tuesday. "I think the lead ship in the class has pretty much borne out [those] claims."
USS Galveston (C-17), USS Bainbridge (DD-1) and USS Saratoga (CA-2). Photo credit: www.navy.mil, U.S. Navy Photo.
The Zumwalt is capable of multiple missions, having the ability to engage in surface, shallow water and air warfare. The newest technologically advanced radar system will also be housed in the destroyer, designed to allow the ship to get as close to the land as possible undetected. Other advanced systems such as anti-submarine warfare detection and a vertical launching system will be available on the destroyer as well.
One of the biggest advantages to the Zumwalt – which measures 610 feet long and 12 stories tall – is that it requires a smaller crew to operate than other destroyers. In fact, it requires only 130 crew members to effectively operate, which is less than half the size of the crew required by the significantly smaller Arleigh Burke destroyers (which measures 510 feet).
Destroyer technology for the United States Navy has advanced significantly since its beginnings in the late 1800s. The first destroyer was developed in response to the destruction a torpedo boat caused to a large ship, as first witnessed in the 1891 Chilean Civil War and then again in the 1894 Sino-Japanese War. The small boat had the ability to get close to larger ships, releasing torpedoes and then fleeing the danger zone before explosion. These new dangers brought about the advent of the torpedo boat destroyer, which would later be shortened to simply "destroyer."
USS Kearny (DD-432). Photo credit: www.navy.mil, U.S. Navy Photo.
The first United States destroyer was commissioned in 1902, the USS Bainbridge (DD-1), and was only 250 feet in length, carrying a crew of 75. The DD-1 was armed with two 3-inch guns, five 6-pounders, and two 18-inch torpedo tubes – much different than the advanced gun systems able to fire Long-Range Land Attack Projectiles now available to the new Zumwalt.
It wouldn't be until World War I that the groundwork was laid for modern anti-submarine and anti-aircraft warfare. American destroyers helped combat the German U-boats in the trans-Atlantic crossing; and towards the end of the First World War, destroyers were equipped with anti-aircraft guns, allowing them to engage in combat with enemy planes.
In World War II, destroyers fully took on the duty of anti-submarine warfare, hunting and destroying German submarines. They also began using guns for on-shore targets and to battle enemy aircraft. The new duties of the destroyer were to protect the land, sea, and air by destroying submarines, enemy aircraft, on-shore batteries, and guarding Allied landing craft – all of which culminated during Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944.
These duties have remained the responsibility of the U.S. Navy destroyers today, even with the improvements of all-steel construction and damage control features. The newest destroyers, such as the USS Arleigh Burke, were armed with land-attack weapons, providing sustained firepower to troops on shore.
USS Arleigh Burke(DDG-51). Photo credit: www.navy.mil, U.S. Navy Photo.
Now, with the commissioning of the new DDG-1000 USS Zumwalt, surface combatants are more versatile and survivable, being more relevant to combat on shore, defense industry analyst Loren Thompson told Stars and Stripes.
"This vessel has so much more fighting potential than past destroyers that it may be the best solution for surface warfare…" said Thompson.
Check out this video about the new destroyer – USS Zumwalt, DDG-1000!