Asia Defense

US Navy’s Newest Stealth Warship Will Take to Sea This Week

The lead vessel of the U.S. Navy’s newest destroyer class will begin testing its combat systems this week.

US Navy’s Newest Stealth Warship Will Take to Sea This Week
Credit: US Navy

For the first time since its arrival in San Diego in December 2016, the U.S. Navy’s newest stealth warship, the 16,000-ton next generation guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), will take to sea to test components of its combat system, USNI News reports.

However, the head of the U.S. Navy’s Naval Systems Command — the agency responsible for the design, construction, and maintenance of the Navy’s military hardware — emphasized that this is neither a full at-sea trial nor “a full-fledged combat system” light off assessment — a comprehensive evaluation of the ship’s combat systems equipment. Indeed, the ship still lacks a functioning main weapon system given that the primary projectile to be used for the Zumwalt’s two main guns was deemed too expensive by the U.S. Navy.

Instead, “it’ll be the first opportunity to light the [SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar] off, and it’ll be the first opportunity to light off several of the other combat system elements on the ship,” Vice Admiral Tom Moore told USNI News. The full sea trial will take place following the so-called Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA) test of the Zumwalt’s combat system. PSA “is a repair phase newly commissioned ships go through usually about a year after delivery to work out any maintenance discrepancies and to update equipment,” according to the U.S. Navy.

The USS Zumwalt, featuring a wave-piercing tumblehome hull and stealth design, will only be at sea for a few days.

The USS Zumwalt suffered a number of engineering casualties over the last months, including an embarrassing breakdown that required the $4 billion ship to be towed out of the Panama Canal. This week’s sea trial will offer an opportunity to test some of the solutions U.S. Navy engineers developed to fix the causes of the breakdowns.

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According to Moore the sea trial will allow testing out “some of the things we fixed in the propulsion plant that we had the challenges when we transited [to San Diego], and then it’s the first opportunity really to turn on some of these systems and go radiate things for the first time and go collect some data, work with Raytheon and make sure that the system is working like it’s supposed to.”

As I reported elsewhere (See: “US Offered to Send Its Most Advanced Stealth Destroyer to South Korea”), the U.S. Navy recently offered to deploy the USS Zumwalt to South Korea in a show of force to deter North Korean aggression. The ship was commissioned into active service in October 2016 (See: “US Navy Commissions Most Technologically Advanced Stealth Warship”). It is the lead ship of a class of three guided-missile destroyers. The ship is expected to join the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet at a yet to be determined date in 2018.