I thought I had taken a picture of this hull in the course of a train ride to Rockland, but there's no such picture in the archives. Zumwalt looks like somebody grafted a Confederate ironclad onto a whaleback lake boat.
The ship features an angular shape that makes it 50 times more difficult to detect on radar; it's powered by electricity produced by turbines similar to those in a Boeing 777; new guns are designed to pummel targets from nearly 100 miles away. Advanced automation will allow the big ship to operate with a much smaller crew than on current generation of destroyers.Experience curves are like that. Perhaps, though, there's some value in staying several generations of technology ahead of everybody else.
The final cost of the Zumwalt is expected to be at least $4.4 billion.
The original concept for the land-attack destroyer was floated more than 15 years ago then underwent several permutations. The final design called for a destroyer with a stealthy shape and advanced gun system that can fire rocket-propelled projectiles with pinpoint accuracy.
But the growing cost forced the Navy to reduce what was originally envisioned as a 32-ship program to just three ships. The loss of economies of scale drove up the cost of the individual ships.
The slow-going and rising costs were little surprise after the General Accounting Office warned that the Navy was trying to incorporate too many new technologies into the ship.
The next two ships will be Michael Monsoor and Lyndon B. Johnson. What happened to former presidents getting aircraft carriers?
On the other hand, we used to refer to land-attack destroyers as "heavy cruisers." Or "dreadnaughts."