The third Zumwalt Class destroyer for the United States Navy has started to be pieced together by workers at defence firm General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine.
DDG 1002 is set to enter operational USN service in 2018, four years behind the lead vessel, Zumwalt DDG 1000.
Multi-mission capable and primarily tasked with land attack and littoral shore-based operations, it will be 600 feet in length and have a top speed of 35+ miles per hour. Its faceted design will make it stealthy and give it only a limited presence on enemy radar screens and it's expected to give the USN a new reduced-cost warship capability.
USN Zumwalt Destroyer
The USN Zumwalt destroyer's armament will include RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow and Tomahawk missiles and a pair of 155mm Advanced Gun Systems and it will also carry a complement of three MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned helicopters. Never before will the USN have had such a large destroyer in service but it's such an advanced design that, compared to present day warships, it'll only require half the number of crew.
"This event is a testament to the tremendous levels of design and production planning that has defined the DDG 1000 program", Program Executive Office (Ships) DDG 1000 program manager, Captain Jim Downey, explained at a ceremony held to mark the beginning of the third Zumwalt's build.
He continued: "In just over three years since the start of fabrication on the first ship, major portions of Zumwalt [DDG 1000] are complete and assembled on the Land Level Transfer Facility while the second ship, Michael Monsoor [DDG 1001], is over 25 per cent complete. We look forward to building on the superb construction progress the program has achieved to date and delivering this very capable warship."
Zumwalt Class Destroyers
Initially, the Zumwalt Class destroyer programme would have delivered 32 new warships to the US Navy. That number was then systematically reduced to 24 Zumwalts, then seven and, now, just three.
"With its stealth, incredibly capable sonar system, strike capability and lower manning requirements - this is our future", US Navy Admiral Jonathan Greenert stated in comments quoted by the Associated Press.
Image copyright US Navy