More Teething Problems For Multi-Billion Dollar Stealth Destroyer USS Zumwalt

USS Zumwalt. <a href=>Photo Credit</a>
USS Zumwalt. Photo Credit

The USS Zumwalt can’t seem to catch a break. Its latest problem is the loss of propulsion in its port shaft as the $4.4 billion destroyer made its way through the Panama Canal recently.

Propulsion was lost due to seawater in two of the four bearings that link the starboard and port Advanced Induction Motors (AIM) to the drive shafts, a defense official disclosed. The AIMs are large electrical motors that are powered by the vessel’s gas turbines which electrically drive the shafts and power the ship’s systems.

The transit through the locks had to be completed with tugs after both shafts locked.  Also, minor contact with lock walls in the canal caused inconsequential exterior damage.

After the transit, the Navy decided the ship couldn’t proceed to its new home port at Naval Station San Diego without more repairs at former U.S. Naval Station Rodman.  That’s expected to take ten days, said U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry.

The ship’s engineering unit, the Integrated Power System, is possibly the most unique and complicated system in the Navy. Building and installing the system that furnishes additional power to operate high energy sensors and weapons was primarily responsible for a months-long late delivery.  Zumwalt had been due to arrive in San Diego at year’s end and start weapon system trials before joining the fleet in 2018.

The latest problem follows on the heels of an incident in September after the warship’s move from General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Maine to Naval Station Norfolk, Va.  Seawater leaked into the propulsion motor drive lubrication oil secondary system for one of the ship’s shafts, the Navy said at the time.  Similarities in the problems have led the servicemen to believe the malfunctions are due to leaking lube oil coolers.  All four coolers were replaced, USNI News reported.

After the ship’s commissioning October 15, Zumwalt had other unspecified engineering troubles near the time it arrived at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.  Additional time had been spent fixing and testing and problematic system.

The guided-missile stealth destroyer is the first of a trio of Zumwalt-class ships with a total cost of $22 billion.  Two ships are under construction at Bath Iron Works.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE