The U.S. Navy announced the recent launch of the final Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer from General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Maine. It is the third such ship to be launched.
The Zumwalt class performs in many capacities, including anti-aircraft warfare, but was primarily designed for the role of naval surface fire support for troops on shore. In that regard, the Zumwalt was originally intended to replace battleships, per a congressional mandate.
The USS Lyndon B. Johnson, as the third and final destroyer has been named, is now commencing its final outfitting at the shipyard.
Captain Kevin Smith, the DDG 1000 program manager for Program Executive Office Ships, said that now that the first two ships of this class have been released, he is excited to continue the development and construction of the Lyndon B. Johnson. The ships currently have an average cost of $4.24 billion per ship, excluding research and development.
The Lyndon B. Johnson is 610 feet long, and it was launched on December 9, 2018. According to a Navy statement, it sports a stealth design with a cutting-edge electric propulsion system, and tumblehome hull to better slice through the waves while furthering the Navy’s evolution in terms of new systems and missions.
The statement continued by describing the process of launching a ship, which involves transporting it from a facility on land to a dry dock. The dry dock is then filled with water until the ship is afloat.
Originally commissioned in October 2016, the USS Zumwalt is the primary ship in the class. The Johnson and the other Zumwalt-class ship, USS Michael Monsoor, boast the latest in technology and weaponry, which aid the Navy in its missions of sea control, deterrence, command and control, and power projection.
“The crew of Lyndon B. Johnson looks forward to bringing this great warship honoring our 36th president to life, and we’re proud to have the opportunity to be present for this important step in the ship’s construction,” said Captain Jeremy Gray, the commander of the Lyndon B. Johnson. “It is truly impressive to see the ship afloat in the Kennebec River for the first time, and we look forward to taking her to sea.”
The launch of the Johnson was not without controversy. The program has endured cuts of more than ninety percent of its budget, and the ship still lacks the ammunition required for its six advanced gun systems.
Originally, thirty-two ships were ordered, but only three were made. This was due to the rising costs of production, along with the economic impact of a prolonged recession.
The Congressional Research Service indicates that American taxpayers will be responsible for paying $13 billion, which is the equivalent in price of seven Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers. Aside from the cost disparity, the Arleigh Burke-class has already been proven to be effective, and possesses a full complement of working sensors and weapons.
The Monsoor arrived at its homeport in San Diego, California on December 8, as the Johnson prepared to launch in Maine.
The path to Monsoor‘s completion included a few setbacks, including the need to replace the main turbine engine following turbine blade damage during July’s sea trials. The Monsoor should be welcomed into the fleet as of next month.