SAS12: Approach of the Gray Elephant

SAS12: Approach of the Gray Elephant

After years as a diagram, talking point and PowerPoint slide, the Navy’s new USS Zumwalt is set to become a no-kidding, honest-to-goodness ship this year.

Program manager Capt. Jim Downey said Monday that the ship will get its composite deckhouse; helicopter hangar; and the rest of its hull by the end of this fiscal year. But that still won’t mean it’s going to become a fleet asset any time soon — it’s due for several more years of testing and fitting out and won’t have its “initial operational capability” until 2016.

Downey said the Navy is setting aside about a year to test the Zumwalt’s wham-o-dyne new sensors and combat system, and it’s reserving that same amount of time for the following two ships. If everything goes well, engineers might not need to use all that time on DDG 1001 and 1002, but as for now they’re keeping it in the schedule.

The Zumwalt will take the Navy’s 21st century emphasis on technology and automation to its limits: This 15,000-ton, 610-foot “destroyer” — which displaces about as much as seven World War II-era destroyers — will field a core crew of 120 sailors. Add an aviation detachment of 28 and that gives a total ship’s complement of 148, plus two MH-60 Seahawk helicopters. The Navy continues to struggle with its crews of 75 aboard its 3,000-ton littoral combat ships. Can it manage with a behemoth like the Zumwalt?

Downey said engineers have been studying the crew size intently — “We keep going back to, is that 120 number right?” he said. Naval Sea Systems Command thinks it is; it has studied individual crew members’ work days down to six-minute increments, and the fleet also expects to rely on contract maintenance as it has with LCS. How well has that worked today? The jury is still out.

But this program is already in motion and the Navy wants it to keep moving. It’s counting on the Zumwalt’s integrated power system to show the way forward to tomorrow’s high energy sea weapons. Most warships have a set of engines to provide ship’s power — including hotel services for the crew and juice for sensors and weapons — and a separate set to push through the water. Zumwalt’s four gas turbines will generate electricity the crew can direct however it wants, enabling it to dial up speed, or dial up radar energy, etc.

Downey said Zumwalt will generate a total of 78 megawatts; at 20 knots, it’ll still have 58 megawatts available for use by the ship’s systems. So it’ll be able to make speed and have juice left over for its X-Band radars and 120mm Advanced Gun Systems, and then for the theoretical laser weapons that are always five years down the line.

As for missiles, Zumwalt will carry 80 peripheral vertical launch system tubes, and be able to handle the Evolved Sea Sparrow; the vertical-launched Anti-Submarine Rocket; Tomahawk cruise missiles; and the SM-2 surface-to-air missile. This weapons breakdown is significant — when the Navy first made its argument to kill or truncate DDG 1000, it said the ship couldn’t handle the Standard Missile family, even though SM-builder Raytheon was also building the ship’s combat system and much of the rest of its equipment. The Zumwalt’s actual capabilities have never really been clear since.

Two more things are clear now, however: Downey said the ship will not have any onboard torpedo tubes and it does not have a requirement for ballistic missile defense. Although Zumwalt will go to sea with an integrated suite of undersea sensors and a multi-function towed array, it’ll have to rely on its helicopters, like LCS, if its captain wants to drop on an enemy submarine.

As for BMD, Downey said DDG 1000’s PVLS tubes will be wide enough and long enough to accommodate potential future interceptors, and Raytheon company officials have said they’re confident the ship could join with BMD club with a few modifications. But as for now, Zumwalt is focused on “littoral dominance and land attack,” Downey said.

As it dominates and attacks, DDG 1000 will do a trick that none of today’s surface combatants can do — ballast down to reduce its profile above the surface, which is why the Navy used to list a “battle displacement” separate from its normal one. Downey cautioned that this was as much to help with stability for its guns as to reduce its radar cross section, but he said the ship’s waterline would go up by as much as a meter when it was crouching.

UPDATE: The Navy announced Monday that DDG 1002 will be the USS Lyndon B. Johnson.

Join the Conversation

cough-lcs sucks-cough

I’d think removing the aft AGS battery and replacing it with additional VLS space would be enough to turn some of these into CG-X style BDM cruisers if they turn out to be good platforms.

15,000 tons…isn’t that more than a Ticonderoga-class cruiser? Why is this ship even called a destroyer?

610-food “destroyer”

The Navy continues to struggle with its crews of 75 aboard its 3,000 littoral combat ships.

I think you fat-fingered a little Phil.


This is what the US military needs LCS is NOT and should be a ship to be made for foreign allies IE Philippines. I dont feel though that this will be set sailing this decade budget cuts will delay this master piece and the need to end GCV and wasteful Army programs to support this and more F-22 is what we need for future wars in the Pacific and not fighting Afghanistan all over again so GCV isn’t needed.

Initially when I read that it didn’t have a requirement for BMD or torpedo launch tubes, I thought “Why the hell not? They should include that in the first place.” Actually, I stopped myself before I could finish that thought; this is how the nefarious “mission-creep” rears it’s ugly head and cause development to become protracted and create cost overruns. Making accommodations for BMD in the future was a smart move.

“and the SM-2 surface-t0-air missile.” Wow. Navy admirals said the Zumwalt class couldn’t fire Standard missiles and do area air defense. As a result, they stopped construction at three DDG-1000s and returned to building the Arleigh Burke class. They were dead wrong. Raytheon should sue for the lost business as 32 destroyers were planned, and then a CG(X) cruiser based on the DDG-1000 hull was supposed to come next. But they can’t, because any publicity or lawsuit would anger their only customer, the US Navy, and would cost them future business. So, every time you hear about a defense contractor screwing up, remember that there are just as many major government meltdowns that you aren’t hearing about. (And no, I don’t work for Raytheon or any other defense contractor.)

The boat does have torpedoes (Vertical ASROC) which essentially is a torpedo attached to the end of a rocket. In my opinion torpedo tubes on a surface ship is a waste, if a sub gets close enough to use them you are already dead!

BMD was always built into the Zumwalt, and the reason we are trying to shoehorn the X band radar on this boat into a DDG-51 hull. So I think that is an inaccurate statement.


RTN has zero basis to sue for last business, plans change in business all the time. You seem to think they were “entitled” to 32 ships, which could not be more incorrect…they are “entitled” to what they have, or can get under contract, just like any other purveyor of goods and services. The best thing companies involved in DDG 1000 can do to get more business is to make sure the things they provide actually work, and make the customer happy with performance in return for the massive amount of cash they were given.

Who is going to mess cook, clean the heads, was the clothes, and all the other little things the a required to keep a ship shipshape. What if something breaks in the IO. Any machine shop on board? I bet there very few E1, 2, and 3’s on board. I guess the new Chief’s creed will include No head will I leave unclean. During GQ what % of the crew will be in repair parties. You can not automate shoring, dewatering, firefighting, and clearing away battle damage. Bottom line — I wonder how many of the “bean counters” have ever spent time at sea. They better plan for Murphy’s Law…of course we can do like the Brits who had civilian workers aboard to do the laundry. But of course our contract workers would have to be paid union wages and overtime. With all the electronic and complex systems there has to be time for PMS. No pun intended, bite my tonge, but the monthly PMS checks are going to over load the crew. And if it breaks down are there enough back-up systems.

Navy designates ships more according to capabilities than displacement. And while a ship with more capability will also likely have more displacement, it is the capability and not the displacement that is driving the choice in designations.

Among modern US warships, the biggest difference between a DDG and CG is that the CG has more C2 capability.

I wonder how this compares to similar crew-size experiments back in the 1970s? When the now (sadly) discarded Spruance-class destroyers were introduced, they had exhaustive “design-work study” research from the 1960s (began under everyone’s favorite SecDef McNamara) calculating out their crew sizes at 243. Within a couple of years, the Navy had to increase the official crew sizes to nearly 300, because there simply weren’t enough hands to get everything done.
This sounds eerily familiar…

USS Lyndon Johnson???? What’s next from Mabus? USS Boss Tweed? USS Huey Long? USS Richard freakin’ Daley?

“the theoretical laser weapons that are always five years down the line.” Then why even mention it?

I agree with Bohemond, naming DDG-1002 for Johnson is just wrong. Now we have had DDGs, CVNs, SSNs, SSBNs named for former presidents. So when are we going to name a YGN the USS Barack Hussain Obama?

The (Elmo) Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class of guided missile destroyers is being built without S-band radar systems.

S-band radar is currently a key component in using SM-3 for BMD.

On the Ticonderoga class (CG-47) guided missile cruisers, and the Arleigh Burke class (DDG-51) guided missile destroyers, the subset of those configured for Aegis-based BMD, AN/SPY-1 S-band radar is used to detect, track, and discriminate a ballistic missile target, guide the SM-3 into a small error basket, and allow the SM-3’s seeker to track and discriminate the target for a hit-to-kill intercept.

The Navy has decided to not include BMD in DDG-Elmo’s initial capabilities.

Never know, might be the next LCS unit. Looks and sounds good but can’t do anything right!

The DDG-1000 is a clear waste of our tax dollars and the Navy and DOD knows this. Read Col. Welch’s study of a Major Caliber Gun Ship and what it would have given us as far as capability. The DDG-1000 has little to offer when it comes to land attack. Its a big joke. 300 rounds is nothing for volume fires.


NOTE: Comments are limited to 2500 characters and spaces.

By commenting on this topic you agree to the terms and conditions of our User Agreement

AdChoices | Like us on , follow us on and join us on Google+
© 2015 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.