DDG 1000: Future is here

By Capt. David M. McFarland, USN
Deputy Director, Surface Warfare, N96B

As 2014 draws to a close, we begin to focus on some of the important strides forward the Surface Force will make in the coming year, specifically the commissioning and initial operational testing of the USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), the first of the three ship Zumwalt class. USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), will join the fleet in 2018 and 2021, providing the Navy with the world’s most sophisticated destroyers.

Earlier this year, the christening of the Zumwalt captured the imagination of the American public, as it saw for the first time the distinctive, powerful shape of this futuristic warship bristling with new technologies and capabilities designed to influence world events and sail American naval power where it matters, when it matters. DDG 1000 will provide sea control and power projections options that will help protect and sustain our national interests, assure friends and allies, and dissuade potential adversaries.

Mouzetta Zumwalt-Weathers Christens the guided-missile destroyer Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Zumwalt (DDG 1000) during a christening ceremony at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, April 12, 2014. The ship, the first of three Zumwalt class destroyers, will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces and operate as part of joint and combined expeditionary forces. 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.(U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works by Dennis Griggs/Released)


The Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer DDG 1000 is floated out of dry dock at the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard.

The first thing one notices about this ship is its shape. Its tumblehome hull is designed to pierce through oncoming waves, rather than ride atop them. The second thing is its size and its distinct lack of sharp angles and protrusions creating a radar image significantly smaller than the DDG 51 class, though the ship is half again as large at 14,000 tons. Forward of the conformal deckhouse, one finds two mammoth Advanced Gun System 155mm mounts, capable of hurling GPS-guided projectiles in excess of 60 miles in support of ground operations or in a quick-strike capability. Yet with all the capability visible to the outside, much of this ship’s value to the war-fight resides inside.

Internally, the heart of this ship is an innovative electric drive system in which four massive gas turbine engines provide all the power this ship needs for propulsion and the advanced weapons systems. Rated at a total of 78 megawatts of power, the equivalent to the power needed to serve 47,000 average U.S. homes, it creates the conditions necessary for the future seamless integration of forthcoming weapons such as the electromagnetic Rail-Gun and high-energy lasers.

Ringing the main deck are four, 20-cell Peripheral Vertical Launch Systems, each of which will accommodate a range of advanced missiles to be used against air, surface, subsurface and land targets.  A next generation of bow mounted, dual high and mid-frequency sonar is integrated with the aft mounted multifunction towed sonar array providing detection and classification of even the most sophisticated adversary submarines and torpedoes.

We see this ship operating both independently and in concert with others. As the centerpiece of a Hunter-Killer group joined by an Arleigh Burke class Guided Missile Destroyer (DDG 51) and an littoral combat ship, DDG 1000 will provide lethal sea control. In support of amphibious forces and land attack missions, DDG 1000 will add a new range and depth of fires to expeditionary power projection, and will be a strong complement to F-35B’s operating off large deck amphibious ships.

The technology this ship brings to the Fleet is impressive, and while only three will be built, they will undoubtedly be in high demand in every ocean as the center-piece of high end surface actions groups.

For the Surface Navy, the future is now, and now is the DDG 1000. We look forward to continuing to provide updates on the progress of system testing as this exciting ship moves steadily toward joining the Fleet.