How the US Navy Plans to Make Its Troubled Zumwalt-Class Destroyer Into an ‘Apex Predator’

The Zumwalt-class have 3 powerful warships representing the best of American engineering... but technical problems have raised doubts about these destroyers.
USS Zumwalt Arrives in Mayport

The Zumwalt-class are the first stealth destroyers of the US Navy. But, they have had a never-ending series of cost overruns and engineering problems.

The Navy had high expectations for the new destroyers – and they failed after a massive investment of over $20 billion. They were probably put into service much earlier than they should have.

However, now, it appears that the American stealth destroyers are finally ready for combat.

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The upgraded Zumwalt-Class

USS Zumwalt is on the final leg
USS Zumwalt is on the final leg by the Official U.S. Navy Page. Licensed under CC by 2.0.

The US Navy’s Zumwalt-Class destroyers are truly cutting-edge warships. They were designed as multi-mission platforms capable of conducting various operations, including combat against enemy ships, submarines, and aircraft.

In addition, the vessels’ unique shape helps to reduce their radar signature, making them more difficult for enemies to detect and target.

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Moreover, the Zumwalts’ stealth capabilities are unrivaled. The Zumwalt-Class destroyers are a quantum leap forward in naval engineering thanks to their radar-absorbing materials and special shaping. They will undoubtedly play a key role in ensuring American maritime dominance for years to come.

But… the Zumwalts’ cost overruns and technical problems almost killed the program

The boathouse of USS Zumwalt is moved into position
The boathouse of USS Zumwalt is moved into position by the Official U.S. Navy Page. Public Domain.

The Zumwalt destroyers are the most expensive and technologically advanced destroyers ever built for the US Navy. However, it has also been plagued by cost overruns and technical problems.

The first ship of this class was laid down in 2011 at a cost of $7.5 billion. Once in service, the Zumwalt experienced several reliability issues, including problems with its propulsion system and electrical generator. It even broke down in the Panama Canal. As a result, the ship has spent more time in port than at sea.

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The second Zumwalt-Class destroyer, Michael Monsoor, was commissioned on January 26, 2019. Despite being the second ship commissioned in the class, the Michael Monsoor experienced significant problems too. 

Some experts believe this ships have much more capabilities than they should. It makes the repairs and upgrades time-consuming and logistically hard.

USS Zumwalt-Class
USS Zumwalt-Class by Elizabeth A Wolter . Public Domain.

The third Zumwalt-class destroyer, the Lyndon Johnson, is being fitted with new weapons and electrical systems to accommodate the navy’s needs and will carry hypersonic missiles.

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This destroyer is expected to have a smooth performance… And with the improvements of the Zumwalt, Michael Monsoor, and the modern Lyndon Johnson, the Zumwalt-class may be ready for battle and leave behind all its problems.

Now that these destroyers have been refitted and their shortcomings overcome, they will be given a new chance to prove once and for all their worth to the US Navy.

The Zumwalt-Class has been a disappointment for the Navy so far, but it might change

Given its history of cost overruns and technical difficulties, the Zumwalt-Class hasn’t had a good start.

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However, as they are such innovative vessels with unique tech, it was a risk to put them into service without enough – and now, the Navy is dealing with the consequences.

In any case, this revolutionary class is a step forward for the U.S. Navy, and if they perform as expected this time, the Zumwalt-class destroyers will be a powerful attack platform to conquer the seas.


Featured image credit: USS Zumwalt Arrives in Mayport by Timothy Schumaker. Public Domain.

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