General Dynamics Bath Iron Works successfully launched the Navy's first Zumwalt-class destroyer Oct. 28 at their Bath, Maine shipyard.
The future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) will be the lead ship of the Navy's newest destroyer class, designed for littoral operations -- the term the Navy uses for operations close to shore -- and land attack.
The ship first began its translation from Bath Iron Works' land-level construction facility to a floating dry dock on Friday, Oct. 25. Once loaded into the dry dock, the dock was flooded, and the ship removed from its specially designed cradle. By the end of the following Monday, the dock had been flooded, the ship was floated off, and tied to a pier on the Kennebec River.
"This is the largest ship Bath Iron Works has ever constructed and the Navy's largest destroyer. The launch was unprecedented in both its size and complexity," said Capt. Jim Downey, the Zumwalt-class program manager for the Navy's Program Executive Office, Ships.
Construction began on DDG 1000 in February 2009. Zumwalt is currently more than 87 percent complete. The shipbuilder will continue remaining construction work on the hull prior to planned delivery.
Because of the complexity of this first-of-class ship, the Navy will perform a two-phase delivery process. Bath Iron Works will deliver the ship itself to the Navy in late 2014. Upon delivery, the Navy will then conduct tests and trials, including multiple underway periods. The ship is expected to reach initial operating capability in 2016.
The ship, the first of three Zumwalt-class destroyers, will operate as part of joint and combined expeditionary forces. The Navy has incorporated many new technologies into the ship's unique tumblehome hull. Those technologies include an all-electric integrated power system, and an Advanced Gun System designed to fire rocket-powered, precision projectiles 63-nautical miles.
The shape of the superstructure and arrangement of antennas significantly reduce the ship's radar cross section, making the ship less visible to enemy radar. The design also allows for optimal manning with a standard crew size of 130, and an aviation detachment of 28 sailors, in efforts to decrease lifecycle operations and support costs.
The lead ship and class are named in honor of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo R. "Bud" Zumwalt Jr., who served as chief of naval operations from 1970-1974.