ZUMWALT (DDG 1000): The Future Is Getting Closer (Pictorial)

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In the small town of Bath, Maine, tucked up along the picturesque Kennebec River, one of the most striking warships ever conceived is under construction. The design of the future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) takes stealth to the extreme, and it’s no exaggeration to say no one has ever seen a ship like this.

Six hundred feet long on the waterline, the Zumwalt will displace nearly 16,000 tons full load when she puts to sea towards the end of 2015. All external protuberances have been recessed or subsumed into the hull or superstructure in order to minimize radar cross sections and signatures, resulting in a ship that is as streamlined as possible.

Launched last October at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, the Zumwalt was formally christened on April 12. She’s expected to begin sea trials in late 2015.

Three ships of the class are under construction. The second, Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), is coming together on the shipyard’s Land-Level Transfer Facility, while construction has begun on the Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002).

We visited the ship on May 29, 2014, a beautiful, calm day after a long streak of dull, dark, drizzly weather. Thanks to the folks at Bath Iron Works and the US Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command, we came back with some of the best photos yet of the new ship. Interior photography was not permitted, so, sorry, folks, no shots of the ship workers, scaffolding and construction-zone ephemera that is inside. But the exterior of the ship is getting pretty close to what she’ll look like when she goes to sea.

Both gun houses are open as the Zumwalt lies alongside at Bath Iron Work's shipyard.

The brick-colored hull of the Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) is coming together at far left.

The ship's tumblehome hull shape -- slanting in rather than out as on most ships -- is clearly visible in this bow view.

Dead-on bow view.

Outrigged catwalks are fitted along the deck edge to allow shipyard workers easier access.

No anchor is visible, as it's fitted inside on the centerline.

The Zumwalt's shape is intended to reduce the radar cross section to look like a fishing boat, according to the US Navy.

This straight-on broadside view emphasizes the ship's extreme stealth features.

Closeup view of the Zumwalt's superstructure. The deckhouse above the bridge windows is a composite-material structure, built at Gulfport, Mississippi by Ingalls Shipbuilding and barged north to be installed in Maine. A similar structure is being built for the Michael Monsoor, but the Lyndon B. Johnson will have a steel structure built at Bath.

Radars and other sensors are embedded in the superstructure. The rectangular holes are intakes for the ship's gas turbines. The main exhaust is in the top of the structure.

Closeup view of the hull. Line handling stations, accommodation ladders, replenishment stations and other ship handling features are located inside the ship.

Aft, the Zumwalt features a hangar and large flight deck.

The doors in the transom open into a large boat handling bay, featuring a boat ramp and storage able to accommodate two 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats.

Straight-on view of the stern.

Construction sheds still clutter the flight deck.

This pierside view emphasizes the ram-like shape of the bow, a feature not seen on major warships for more than a century.

Welcome aboard!

The forward deck will be cleared before the ship is completed. All anchor-handling gear is located below decks, and the anchor is lowered and raised through the ship's bottom.

Looking aft from the bow.

Closeup of the No. 2 155 mm gun, known as an Advanced Gun System. These will be the largest guns fitted on any post-World War II warship design.

The forward and after decks are lined with vertical launchers able to handle a variety of missiles. The deck-edge scaffolding here is just outside the launchers, which are embedded in the side of the ship.

The bridge windows are more visible here. Note the many recesses in the superstructure for radars and sensors.

The sheer bulk of the Zumwalt's deckhouse is impressive.

Seen from above the ship's flight deck, this view looks forward. The white construction  shed at left covers the hangar doors, while the large window at right is the ship's flight control center. Two Mark 46 30mm guns will be installed on top of the after deckhouse.

The tumblehome hull is quite apparent in this view from aft.

At left, the hull of the second ship in the class, the Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), is coming together. At right is the Rafael Peralta (DDG 115), first of the latest batch of Arleigh Burke DDG 51-class destroyers under construction at Bath. Similar ships are built in Mississippi at Ingalls Shipbuilding.

The weird cutout at the extreme bow of the Michael Monsoor is where the ship's sonar dome will be fitted.

The bow of the DDG 1000s features a knuckle just below the waterline. The ships are intended to slice through waves rather than ride up on them, hence the severe sharpness of the forward hull shape.

The absence of the onion-shaped sonar dome results in a jagged look.

Sunlight makes the hull knuckle even more apparent.

Underneath the Michael Monsoor, looking aft. The "fin" at left is a bilge keel, intended to dampen tendencies to roll.

The massive midbody of the Michael Monsoor's hull.

The stern features a long, shallow run aft for the ship's propeller shafts and twin rudders. Note the grey-painted twin doors for the boat bay in the transom at the ship's stern.

A large skeg is built into the after section's underbody, aiding directional stability and providing structural strength for the hull when it's out of the water.

The stern section still awaits installation of the rudders, propellers and propeller shafts.


Published by Christopher Cavas for Intercepts