The USS Zumwalt, one of three U.S. guided missile destroyer class ships, cost over $4 billion to create. Widely known as the largest destroyer in the world, the warship was built to hold a crew of more than 150 and provide an effective firing range of 100 nautical miles.
The warship was named after Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, the youngest chief of naval operations in U.S. history. It is a guided-missile destroyer, which means its main purpose is to provide antiaircraft support to the U.S. Navy's fleet. The Navy has two other Zumwalt-class destroyers: the USS Michael Monsoor and the USS Lyndon B. Johnson.
According to reports, the three Zumwalt-class destroyers cost about $22.4 billion in research and development.
Nuclear-powered, USS Zumwalt comes with many vertical launchers suitable for specific missile types. However, it has elicited many questions as it fails to shake its history of equipment problems. Many view the Zumwalt as an expensive design failure due to the poorly functioning 155mm Advanced Gun System (AGS).
The Zumwalt program suffered from unrealistic goals and a flawed concept of operations.
In 2018, Military Watch Magazine said the ship "suffered from poorly functioning weapons, stalling engines and an underperformance in their stealth capabilities, among other shortcomings."
"They have almost entirely failed to fulfill the originally intended role of multipurpose destroyer warships, while the scale of cost overruns alone brings the viability of the program into question even if the destroyers were able to function as intended," the report added.
It was so bad that the U.S. Navy even considered repurposing the Zumwalt destroyers as nuclear-armed attack ships.
But things are expected to improve following the arrival of the USS Zumwalt at a shipyard in Mississippi where it will be fitted with hypersonic weapons, according to a report from the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI).
"The USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) departed San Diego, Aug. 1, and will shift its homeport from San Diego to Pascagoula, Mississippi to enter a modernization period and receive technology upgrades including the integration of the Conventional Prompt Strike weapons system," the U.S. Navy wrote in a statement earlier this month.
USNI News reported that the twin 155 mm Advanced Gun Systems on board will be replaced with four 87-inch missile tubes, with each tube containing three Common Hypersonic Glide Bodies (C-HGB).
The Navy is looking to have the weapons installed and the ship deployable by 2025. "We're talking about deploying this system on DDG-1000 [USS Zumwalt] in 2025, that’s two years from now," Vice Admiral Johnny Wolfe was quoted as saying.
Since its commissioning, the USS Zumwalt has seen some action but its combat record is limited.
The ship conducted its first-in-class, live-fire missile exercise on April 14, 2020 as the crew prepared for future operations.
The USS Zumwalt was delivered to the fleet on April 24, 2020, after completing its combat system activation and subsequent at-sea trials. After years of delay, the USS Zumwalt was back from its operational employment in the Pacific in November 2022.
It returned to San Diego after testing combat systems capabilities while operating in 7th Fleet. The ship has not been involved in any major conflicts.
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