PUBLISHED: 16:37 EST, 12 April 2012 | UPDATED: 17:01 EST, 12 April 2012
One of the largest, most expensive and advanced warships ever commissioned for the U.S Navy is taking shape at Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine.
Named the U.S.S Zumwalt, the $7 billion guided-missile destroyer is at the cutting edge of technology and now deemed vital for defence following President Obama’s Asia-Pacific pivot.
Featuring a radical wave-piercing hull known as a ‘tumblehome’, the odd looking ship incorporates stealth technology that makes the 600-foot, 14,500 ton warship seem like a fishing vessel to enemy radar.
Fitted with diagonally launching missile tubes as opposed to traditional vertical tubes and carrying deck-guns that fire rocket propelled warheads 100 miles, the Zumwalt will be a formidable beast.
Even though it is the largest destroyer the U.S Navy has built in years it will have half the crew because of the extensive automation of systems on the ship.
With 32 ships originally envisioned for the class, that was lowered after a government review to 24, then to seven and eventually shot down to just three.
One of the reasons for this is the prohibitive cost of the Zumwalt class.
On paper each of the powerful vessels costs $3.8 billion a piece, but with research and development costs thrown in the full bill is nearer to $7 billion.
The 600-foot-long ships are so large and complicated to build that General Dynamics, who own the shipyard in Maine spent $40 million to construct a 106-foot-tall building that can assemble the various segments.
‘With its stealth, incredibly capable sonar system, strike capability and lower manning requirements – this is our future,’ said Admiral Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, who endorsed the warship on a visit to Bath Iron Works last week.
However, what kind of future is the U.S Navy planning for with a warship that could be simply too powerful for its own good?
Admiral Greenert told reporters that the ship fits perfectly with the Presidents revision of American military presence in the Pacific to counter China’s rise to power.
Refusing to go into detail about the new ship and its function, it is fair to say that the Defence Department has become concerned about China’s own naval modernisation.
Officials see a potential flashpoint in the South China Sea in the coming years where China’s territorial claims overlap with Vietnam, the Philippines and the communist country claims Taiwan as a renegade state.
With China thought to be constructing ballistic missiles that could potential hit America’s massive aircraft carriers out at sea, thereby rendering them useless, the Zumwalt becomes a strategic weapon.
Defense Department officials see the Zumwalt’s new technology allowing it to deter and defeat aggression close to shore and maintain a presence where the enemy seeks to deny access.
One industry expert, Jay Korman, said that he fears the United States is putting all its eggs into one basket with the Zumwalt.
‘They were looking to introduce so many new technologies at once, and the cost ballooned,’ said Korman who works with the Avascent Group.
‘I don’t think people have changed their minds that it’s a capable ship.
‘It’s just too expensive.’
Built to carry up to 80 Tomahawk cruise missiles, anti ship missiles and carrying 155 mm deck guns, the Zumwalt is one of the most heavily armed modern warships ever built.
Designed to pound the shore with guided rocket projectiles fired from its deck guns, the Zumwalt is being built to work in conjunction with the Marines.
Further on down the road, experts expect that one day the Zumwalt will be fitted with electromagnetic rail-guns that use magnetic fields and electric currents.
They can fire their weapons at over five times the speed of sound and would be devastating in a naval engagement.
However, in times of budgetary concerns, after the Zumwalt class reaches its third ship in class the production will stop.
The U.S Navy will return to building its tried and tested and cheaper Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which feature the advanced Aegis radar system.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2128986/The-7-billion-dollar-warship-built-maintain-American-naval-supremacy-China-21st-Century.html#ixzz1rYVkZdpZ