Love Boat shows teeth
There is really no way to sugar coat it, the USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) has been a pear-shaped embarrassment in terms of naval acquisition, making the LCS and Ford programs look squared away by comparison.
Awarded in 2008, DDG-1000 took eight years to complete, which is kinda shocking for a “destroyer” but of course isn’t when you keep in mind it is actually 14,800-tons, pushing into the size envelope of a WWII-era Baltimore-class heavy cruiser, making them the largest non-carrier surface asset constructed for the Navy since the 15,500-ton nuclear-powered USS Long Beach (CGN-9) commissioned in 1961.
The Zumwalts were to showcase two new weapons platforms, namely the 155 mm Advanced Gun System– which likely will never be operational in practice– and the MK 57 VLS, which uses four-cell missile packs spread along the peripheral edges of the vessel instead of the more traditional 8-cell VLS modules bunched fore and aft.
At least it looks like the MK 57 is (almost) up and running, with a test launch of an SM-2 at Point Mugu, on 13 October– notably just 72 hours short of the $4.4B Zumwalt’s 4th commissioning anniversary.
“Today’s successful firing event is a critical milestone in the maturation of this incredible ship class and represents the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work and partnership of Zumwalt’s talented crew and the engineers, designers, and programmers helping us to bring her capabilities to the Fleet,” said Capt. Gary Cave, Zumwalt’s commanding officer. “It is a day we’ve been looking forward to and demonstrates the strides we are taking to add combat capability to our surface force.”