Monsoor joins the fleet (if only she could shoot)
On the 75th anniversary of the January 1944 launch of USS Missouri (BB 63), the USN commissioned the second (of 3) Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers on Saturday. Named for Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, the second Navy SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror, she carries a fine name and is a beautiful ship of some 16,000 tons and 610-feet in length– the same size as a the biggest pre-dreadnought-era battleship of the 1900s, since we are talking battleships.
Of note, she is larger than any American cruiser commissioned after USS Long Beach became active in 1961.
Sadly, her showcase big guns, a pair of stealthy BAE 155 mm/62 (6.1″) Mark 51 Advanced Gun System (AGS) mounts, which were supposed to be capable of firing 10 rounds per minute at ranges of up to 83 nautical miles, are inoperable because the Navy does not have any ammo for them– and isn’t planning on buying any in the foreseeable future. The R&D cost of their unique shells, which was supposed to be amortized across a planned 32-ships, skyrocketed when the program was whittled down to just a trio of hulls (6 mounts), leaving the rounds too expensive to buy, and the AGS cannot fire standard 155mm rounds, which ironically is one of the most common in the world.
This leaves these giant ships armed with 80 deep Mk 54 VLS cells that are capable of fielding the Tomahawk, Standard 2s, and the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile, which is less punch than any other DDG in U.S. service, although with half the complement (147 souls) when compared to a much cheaper Arleigh Burke-class destroyer due to extensive automation.
A third Zumwalt, USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002), is set to deliver to 2020.