Navy's New $3B Ship Looks Like Fishing Boat on Radar

USS Zumwalt christened in Maine
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2014 7:00 AM CDT
Updated Apr 19, 2014 11:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – The US Navy's newest destroyer was christened in Maine last Saturday as you'd expect—with Champagne—but the USS Zumwalt strays from the norm from there. The 610-foot-long vessel, the first of a new class of destroyers, features an angular shape (Gary Robbins describes it as "knife-like" for the San Diego Union-Tribune) designed to make it appear like a small fishing boat on enemy radar. Among the $3 billion vessel's many other advancements, per the AP and Business Insider: onboard technology that targets submarines and minefields, a single and secure network that the captain can use to control the vessel's systems from any point on the ship, and the use of electric propulsion (a first among Navy ships); its power production will allow it to support the futuristic electromagnetic rail gun, which will be tested at sea in 2016.

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Another advancement, and a cost-reducing one at that: fewer sailors. Thanks to its technological systems, the Zumwalt need only be manned by about about 130 sailors, as opposed to the crew of 210 aboard the Navy's Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which are about 100 feet shorter. Robbins adds that it takes a page, physically-speaking, from "the steam-powered ironclad warships that played a role in the American Civil War": Its low profile and narrowing hull will allow it to sail quietly in both shallow depths and the wave-filled ocean. At Business Insider, Paul Szoldra calls it "a Swiss-army knife for missions of the future," noting that it is designed to handle long-term operations targeting those at sea or on land. The ship was named for the trailblazing late Adm. Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt, who promoted the first female and African-American officers to admirals. (Read more USS Zumwalt stories.)

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