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.
The upgraded Zumwalt-Class
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.
Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002), the 3rd & final ship of the Zumwalt-class destroyers, sailed away from BIW on Jan 12, reaching its destination at HII in Mississippi on Jan 17. BIW is now focused entirely on building the workhorse of the fleet, the Arleigh Burke-class of destroyers. pic.twitter.com/9LQyLgWqFU— General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (@GDBIW) January 19, 2022
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 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.
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.
The sneaky Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) comes along side the Military Sealift Command Henry J. Kaiser-class underway replenishment oiler USNS Pecos. 14 July 2022. (MC3 Elisha Smith) pic.twitter.com/HwJAwjZcao— J.J. (@kadonkey) July 24, 2022
Some experts believe this ships have much more capabilities than they should. It makes the repairs and upgrades time-consuming and logistically hard.
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.
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.
The #USNavy’s 3 #Zumwalt class destroyers will be modified to carry new #hypersonic weapons. Each destroyer could hold up to 16 C-HGB missiles.— IDU (@defencealerts) May 18, 2021
(Range 5000 Km : Speed Mach 17) pic.twitter.com/hU6t7cmRXh
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.
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.