On Monday, the single largest destroyer ever built for the United States Navy hit the open seas for the first time. The USS Zumwalt departed from Bath Iron Works and carefully navigated the winding Kennebec River to reach Atlantic Ocean waters. Now, the ship is ready for sea testing.
Overall, more than 200 shipbuilders, sailors and local Maine residents gathered to watch the 600 foot, 15,000 ton destroyer swim past Fort Popham. The ship, which has been described as “futuristic”, was guided by several tugboats.
Employees of Bath Iron Works were particularly emotional about their achievement.
Company employee Kelley Campana said, “This is pretty exciting. It's a great day to be a shipbuilder and to be an American. It's the first in its class. There's never been anything like it. It looks like the future."
Former Raytheon employee who worked on the ship Larry Harris added, “It's as cool as can be. It's nice to see it underway. Hopefully, it will perform as advertised."
This winter, Bath Iron works will test the performance of the ship and make necessary adjustments. The ultimate goal is to have the destroyer delivered to the Navy before the end of next year.
The skipper for the USS Zumwalt Navy Captain James Kirk said, “We are absolutely fired up to see Zumwalt get underway. For the crew and all those involved in designing, building, and readying this fantastic ship, this is a huge milestone."
The ship includes a plethora of innovative equipment, including electric propulsion, advanced radar and sonar equipment, powerful weapons and a stealthy design that should reduce its radar signature. Additionally, the warship will be able to operate with a smaller crew size thanks to methods of advanced automation.
However, this new warship did not come easy. The construction experienced several delays, and it came at a cost of more than $4.4 billion. At least two other ships in this new line of destroyers are expected to be created in the near future.