More
    HomeMilitaryStealth and Missiles: The Resurgent Role of the Zumwalt-Class Destroyers

    Stealth and Missiles: The Resurgent Role of the Zumwalt-Class Destroyers

    Published on

    spot_img

    The Zumwalt-class destroyers, once envisioned as the vanguard of the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet, faced a tumultuous journey. Designed for 21st-century naval warfare, these ships were initially hailed for their advanced capabilities and innovative technology.

    151207-N-ZZ999-435 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 7, 2015) The future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is underway for the first time conducting at-sea tests and trials in the Atlantic Ocean Dec. 7, 2015. The multimission ship will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces, and operate as an integral part of joint and combined expeditionary forces. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works/Released)

    However, the Zumwalt-class program saw an abrupt halt, with no further vessels to be constructed beyond the three already commissioned—USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), and USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002).

    These cutting-edge warships were beset by a plethora of issues. Shortly after its commissioning in 2016, the USS Zumwalt broke down in the Panama Canal, and a year later, the USS Michael Monsoor failed in her sea trials.

    Military Watch Magazine reported that the class “suffered from poorly functioning weapons, stalling engines, and an underperformance in their stealth capabilities, among other shortcomings.” Additionally, the absence of certain armaments and the astronomical cost of their specialized artillery shells, priced at around $800,000 each, further diminished the Zumwalt’s allure.

    Yet, in a surprising twist, the Department of Defense allocated additional funds for the modernization of the Zumwalt ships in the waning days of 2023.

    Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work speaks with the crew of Pre-Commissioning Unit Zumwalt (DDG 1000) during a visit to Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine May 12, 2015. Work toured the ship and observed its progress. DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Hurt/ Released.

    While the exact modifications remain undisclosed, the integration of future weapon systems, such as the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) hypersonic missile structure, is anticipated.

    USS Michael Monsoor Commissioning” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    This evolution echoes historical transitions, from the era of the battleships like the famed Iowa-class—which never encountered Japanese battleships in World War II—to today’s multi-mission vessels capable of operating across the globe.

    2021-07-28 Georgetown ME (847)” by Paul-W is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The Zumwalt-class destroyers represent this modern approach. Featuring stealth technology, an electric propulsion system, and a tumblehome hull design, they are built for various missions, including land attack and special operations support.

    Capt. James A. Kirk, commanding officer of the future USS Zumwalt answers questions from the media during a media tour.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Their power systems are suitable for future high-energy weapons and sensors, an essential consideration given the increasing threat of land-based anti-ship missiles demonstrated by the Houthi rebel attacks in the Red Sea.

    The Zumwalt-class destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001), passes beneath the Broadway Bridge as the ship transits to Portland, Oregon for Portland Fleet Week 2022.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Reflecting on the utility of warships in the modern era, one must consider the lessons learned from past naval encounters. The U.S. Navy’s engagement with Houthi rebels exemplified the necessity of versatility in maritime strategy.

    Zumwalt Class Destroyer at Bath Iron Works” by rexhammock is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    It was determined these weapons presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region. These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy and merchant vessels,” The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) announced.

    USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) arrives at its new homeport in San Diego.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The future of naval warfare demands adaptability. The Iowa class battleships, though powerful, were products of a bygone era.

    USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship pulls into Pearl Harbor.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    In the early phases of the Zumwalt conception, the Navy believed each ship in the class would cost a total of $1.34 billion. As time went on, this number shot up to nearly $7 billion.

    USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) departs San Diego as part of an operational underway.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    As we witness the regeneration of the Zumwalt-class, the future seems to be one where smaller, faster warships, armed with precise missiles and supported by unmanned systems, dominate the seas.

    PCU Zumwalt” by sjrankin is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    This is not a reduction in power but an evolution, allowing naval forces to meet the emerging security environments with stealth and precision. The Zumwalt-class may yet sail into its intended glory, equipped with the capabilities to make it a formidable presence on the world’s oceans.

    Relevant articles:
    Zumwalt-Class Stealth Destroyer: Why the Navy Had to Cancel It, nationalinterest.org
    The U.S. Navy’s New Nightmare: Is the Era of the Big Warship Over?, The National Interest
    USS Zumwalt, All Hands Magazine (.mil)
    The Iowa-Class Battleships are a Nightmare for the U.S. Navy for One Reason, The National Interest

    Latest articles

    FN Five-seveN MRD: A New Era in Precision Handguns

    The FN Five-seveN has stood out in the modern firearms landscape for years, known...

    Raytheon’s Breakthrough: Achieving Milestones in the HALO Program

    The United States Navy is enhancing its offensive prowess and strategic vision by developing...

    Significance of Reagan Test Site in US Hypersonic Weapon Testing

    The US Air Force has garnered attention with the successful trial of a prototype...

    The B-21 Raider of the U.S. Air Force Prepares for Deployment Despite Production Hurdles and Hypersonic Competition

    The B-21 Raider, the United States Air Force's new stealth bomber, is edging closer...

    More like this

    FN Five-seveN MRD: A New Era in Precision Handguns

    The FN Five-seveN has stood out in the modern firearms landscape for years, known...

    Raytheon’s Breakthrough: Achieving Milestones in the HALO Program

    The United States Navy is enhancing its offensive prowess and strategic vision by developing...

    Significance of Reagan Test Site in US Hypersonic Weapon Testing

    The US Air Force has garnered attention with the successful trial of a prototype...