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Navy Lights Off Zumwalt Generators

Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Zumwalt (DDG-1000) pierside at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine on April 12, 2013. US Naval Institute Photo

Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Zumwalt (DDG-1000) pierside at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine on April 12, 2013. US Naval Institute Photo

The Navy has started the massive gas turbines in its latest class of guided missile destroyer ahead of the ship’s commissioning next year, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) announced on Thursday.

The first-in-class Zumwalt (DDG-1000) fired up the two Rolls Royce MT-30 and two smaller Rolls-Royce RR450 gas turbines this week as part of testing the ships new integrated power system (IPS) that will use the combined 80 mega-watt power to power the ship and its new advanced induction motors (AIM).

“Light-off of DDG-1000’s generators is a critical step forward in the activation, test, and trials of the ship’s systems,” said Capt. Jim Downey, DDG-1000 program manager in the Thursday statement.

Unlike traditional gas turbine arrangements on U.S. naval ships, the 36 mega-watt MT-30s and 3.8 mega-watt RR450s will drive a ship-wide electrical grid. Instead of having a direct mechanical connection to the ship’s propellers or water jets, the turbines will route power electrically to complex electrical motors that will drive the ship — crucial to the Navy’s IPS concept.

IPS is the Navy’s most mature expression of the so-called decades-old electric ship concept.

The core of the idea is by removing the direct mechanical connection from the turbines commanders have more options to route power to weapon systems or sensors.

Through IPS the amount of raw power is increased making the three planned Zumwalts ideal test platforms for next generation weapons like high energy lasers or electro magnetic railguns.

The Navy’s surface warfare requirements arm will closely study the IPS on the ships ahead of the development of the Navy’s next large surface combatant, Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, then director of surface warfare (N96) for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), told USNI News in January.

“We are going to cut our teeth on DDG-1000 and on the IPS we have on that ship,” Rowden said.

“I think a lot of the technologies that we are putting on 1000 to 1002 are going serve us very well as we drive toward these [new] ships.”

The Navy plans to field a total of three of the 16,000-ton Zumwalts.

  • ddillaby

    They are not “advanced indication motors (AIM).” They are advanced induction motors! Fingergraphical error.

  • Glen Davis

    GREAT! The entire ship will be dead in the water and useless when exposed to high-level EMP. Many nations that maintain older-tech navies are likely to be the future sea powers when the vast number of US advanced ships will become scrap, and unable to even fire a shell/launch a missle/catapult a plane because the magazines, lifts, loaders, rangers, aiming computers and remote-fire commands will not work. Can’t wait…

    • Mike

      Having worked on NAVSEA ship design programs for General Dynamics, I can tell you that there are strict specifications dealing with both EMP and mechanical shock. Every component, system, and procedure is designed from the water up to survive these types of attacks. These ships are fast, stealthy, powerful, and robust.

      • Mike

        and worthless for performing any true destroyer duties

    • Roger Roger

      EMP isn’t much of a threat to the US military. It is to the US civilian infrastructure. That is why we would respond to a nuclear initiated EMP attack as we would any other nuclear strike. Don’t hold your breath.

      • old guy

        Even EMP shielded ships are vulnerable due to effects on SATCOM, on which these ships are dependent

  • Secundius

    I’m curious to know why they went for the conventional propulsion running gear layout (long-shafts and screws), instead of using the more modern “Azipods” or “Mermaid’s” propulsion system.

    • old guy

      Maybe a startling lack of imagination and innovation. Anyway, isn’t tumblehome enough?

      • Rob C.

        There still open question is the tumblehome style can handle heavy seas. Hopefully it can and not make the ship into a one-way submarine.

        • old guy

          Sorry,
          Read Capt. Kirk’s comments, carefully. It will barrel roll unless very carefully handled, even with stabilizers

        • Secundius

          @ Rob C.

          As of January 2014, the Zumwalt class Advanced Destroyers. Were suppose to be able to handle a 6 or 6+ on the Beaufort Scale. Now, I not even hearing that. That’s probably why they went from a 32 ship class, to a 10 ship class, too a 3 ship class.

          • old guy

            You are right on. The only reason that there still are 3 is because the keels were laid and the consequent cancellation layoffs were opposed by Obramicide and Congress

        • old guy

          But wouldn’t that superstructure make a grand keel?

  • old guy

    With due respect to N96. VADM Rowden, I challenge him to name ONE major advancement in the DD1000 that couldn’t be retrofitted to our current ships. besides a dopey tumblehome design that helps it go belly-up. Speed, stability, maneuver, firepower, C4? Good looking though. I refuse to call it by its name because my old boss is probably disappointed in what was named after him.

  • Colin

    Our 1980’s icebreakers were diesel electric, with the diesels powering an electric motor that spun the shafts. So other than using a turbine what is so new about this?

    • Rob C.

      More direct power to play with. There more effect be able to get it and also not have worry about maintenance on mechanical shaft where a lot of the engine’s power is taken from. Hopefully it works, Zumwalts despite it flaws could pave the way to better combatants.

    • Secundius

      @ Colin.

      Diesel-Electric Propulsion go back to before World War 2!!! The Type-21 German U-Boat had Diesel-Electric Propulsion.

  • old guy

    STEALTH??? The only thing stealthy about this unstable monstrosity is if the enemy is using WW2 radars or if it capsizes (thanks to the tumblehome hull) and is dead in the water, so it won’t leave a detectable wake, and if they paint the bottom sea color so it will be less detectable from satellites. Haven’t these guys ever heard of GPS tracking?

    The Naval architects and designers that worked on this should be have their epaulets torn off and be ejected from SNAME and/or ASNE.

    • Paul of Alexandria

      I don’t know where you’re getting that from. Tumblehome hulls aren’t any more prone to capsizing than any other type of hull.

      • old guy

        Ya’ see, wen da rightin’ momint gits smawler with role angull, ya tend to flop ova. Datz what happinz with the 1000. Chek DTMB tests, if ya can!

  • NavySubNuke

    80 megawatts – plenty of extra power for the rail guns and lasers it will need to take out the incoming Chinese missiles and attack back at the launchers.

  • Rob C.

    Hopefully, the Zumwalts will be able prove you don’t need keep building more of the same 1980s style DDGs. I mean, they could take the lessons from these ships make more reasonable ships to use newer technologies. Such in the case of the Seawolf Class technologies / design being used for less advanced but just as good Virginia Class SSNs.

  • Mike

    I understand this ship is armed with phasers and photon torpedos and travels at warp speed