|New 185m US destroyer afloat for first time
There was no band. No streamers. No champagne.
The US Navy's stealthy Zumwalt destroyer went into the water without fanfare Monday. Shipbuilders moved the warship into the Kennebec River in Maine, before it moves dockside for final construction.
The largest destroyer ever built for the Navy, the Zumwalt looks like no other US warship, with an angular profile and clean carbon fiber superstructure that hides antennas and radar masts.
“The Zumwalt is really in a league of its own,'' said defense consultant Eric Wertheim, author of the “The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World.''
Originally envisioned as a “stealth destroyer,'' the Zumwalt has a low-slung appearance and angles that deflect radar. Its wave-piercing hull aims for a smoother ride.
The 185-meter ship is a behemoth that's longer and bigger than the current class of destroyers. It was originally designed for shore bombardment and features a 155mm “Advanced Gun System'' that fires rocket-propelled warheads that have a range of nearly 160 kilometers.
Thanks to computers and automation, it will have only about half the complement of sailors as the current generation of destroyers.
Dozens of local residents gathered to watch the hours-long process of floating the ship in a dry dock. In the water for the first time, the ship was a sight to behold.
It was supposed to be christened with a bottle of Champagne crashed against its bow by the two daughters of the late Admiral Elmo “Bud'' Zumwalt, but the ceremony earlier this month was canceled because of the partial federal government shutdown.
Workers at Bath Iron Works, part of General Dynamics, will continue working on the ship through the winter.