Home » Budget Industry » Next-Generation Destroyer Zumwalt Sidelined for Repairs After Engineering Casualty

Next-Generation Destroyer Zumwalt Sidelined for Repairs After Engineering Casualty

Guided-missile destroyer Zumwalt (DDG-1000) arrives at Naval Station Newport on Sept. 8, 2016. US Navy Photo

Guided-missile destroyer Zumwalt (DDG-1000) arrives at Naval Station Newport on Sept. 8, 2016. US Navy Photo

This post has been updated to correct the spelling of the second Zumwalt class guided missile destroyer. The correct spelling is Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001). 

Less than a month ahead of its commissioning, the Navy’s next-generation destroyer Zumwalt (DDG-1000) suffered an engineering casualty that could take up to two weeks to repair, Navy officials confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday.
The ship’s crew – currently pier side at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. – found the fault in the ship’s engineering plant on Sept. 19 ahead of at-sea tests. Zumwalt is now undergoing repairs that may take anywhere from 10 days to two weeks.

“The crew discovered the casualty after detecting a seawater leak in the propulsion motor drive lube oil auxiliary system for one of the ship’s shafts. The built-in redundancy of the ship’s propulsion plant allows this first-in-class ship to operate with multiple engine configurations. However, it was determined that the repairs should be completed in port prior to the ship transiting to sea,” U.S. Naval Surface Forces said in a statement to USNI News.
Zumwalt will conduct the repairs at Naval Station Norfolk prior to getting underway for training and certification operations.”

The 16,000-ton destroyer named for former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt is set to commission in Baltimore, Md., on Oct. 15. A Navy official told USNI News the repairs would not affect the commissioning schedule.

The ship is based around twin 155mm Advanced Gun Systems that can fire GPS-guided rocket-propelled shells more than 60 miles to hit land targets.

In addition to the gun systems, a key feature of the ship is its complex integrated power system (IPS) that uses the ship’s gas turbine output to power an electrical grid rather than a direct mechanical connection to the propulsion system.

Testing the extensive electrical system resulted in extended delays in delivery of the ship from shipbuilder General Dynamics Bath Iron Works.

Following commissioning, the ship was due to transit to its new homeport at Naval Station San Diego, Calif., and undergo a combat system activation period ahead of joining the fleet in earnest in 2018.

The class was designed, as part of a wider Pentagon push in the early 2000s, to push the technological envelope. The class of more than 30 was trimmed to three to save costs.

Zumwalt is the first of the trio in the $22-billion class. Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) and Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) are currently under construction at BIW.

The following is the complete Sept. 20, 2016, statement from the Navy on the engineering casualty Zumwalt suffered.

USS Zumwalt to conduct repairs at Naval Station Norfolk
Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific

On Sept. 19, the future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) experienced an engineering casualty during preparations to get underway from Naval Station Norfolk.

The ship will remain in Norfolk to conduct an assessment of the casualty and complete repairs.

The crew discovered the casualty after detecting a seawater leak in the propulsion motor drive lube oil auxiliary system for one of the ship’s shafts.

The built-in redundancy of the ship’s propulsion plant allows this first-in-class ship to operate with multiple engine configurations. However, it was determined that the repairs should be completed in port prior to the ship transiting to sea.

Repairs like these are not unusual in first-of-class ships during underway periods following construction. Zumwalt will conduct the repairs at Naval Station Norfolk prior to getting underway for training and certification operations.

  • sferrin


    • Skivvywaver

      Well, from 32 ships down to 4 ships…I’d say it is cancelled.

      • sferrin

        You can’t fix stupid. Just wait until they try to replace the Ticos. It will be a clusterf–k that would make the Keystone Cops proud. Just remember, you read it here first.

        • johnbull

          In answer to a question, we do have a boat that is doing very well. The Virginias are coming in at budget and a little ahead of schedule on each boat. The difference between the Zumwalt and the LCS program is that this is a first issue with the Zumwalt, not enough to see a pattern. This is unlike the LCS which has a well-known history of breakdowns.

          • sferrin

            Ask yourself why the Virginias are going so smooth. (Hint, the first ship didn’t. I’d post some links but this site doesn’t allow links in the comments. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t pretty. Same goes with the first unit of virtually every other piece of military gear in history.)

          • johnbull

            USS North Carolina (BB 55) is good case in point. Sea trials revealed severe vibration problems at higher speeds. It took lots and lots of work and experimentation to find a solution.

          • sferrin

            The first of the San Antonios had issues as well. Design and analysis can get one only so far. You always have to build and do to wring out the last remaining gremlins.

      • Horn

        Down to 3 ships.

  • Scott

    For real, LCS program has an engineering casualty and everybody and there mother comments, but the 7 billion dollar destroyer breaks down, and nobody says a word. How typical

    • sferrin

      You got your dollar figure wrong. It’s really 7 trillion. No, for realz.

      • Ctrot

        No, it’s not. Do you have any concept of how much a TRILLION is?

        • sferrin

          You need to calibrate your sarcasm detector.

    • Horn

      LCS – 6 engineering casualties on 5 ships in less than a year. Two within weeks after they were commissioned.
      Zumwalt – 1 casualty before commissioning and it sounds like it won’t be nearly as costly as those on the LCS.

  • Mike

    The Ford has electrical problems delaying it’s commission, the Zumwalt is now an having electrical issue, and the Little Crappy Ships keep breaking down and finally defective parts on the cooling system for the nuke attack subs. Are there any new ships being built that aren’t screwed up?

    • sferrin

      But, but, the Peace Dividend. (This is what happens when you rape your industrial base for years to buy low-thinker votes with social programs.) The same will happen if Obama doesn’t manage to cancel the new ICBM, and just wait until we try to build new nuclear warheads.

      • PolicyWonk

        Obama went along with the funding of ICBM’s – despite the fact that a lot of folks don’t seem to consider them necessary anymore, and think the SSBN’s and bomber fleet are more than sufficient (and far more survivable).

        • sferrin

          Obama isn’t gone yet. Also, there’s far FAR more to the equation than survivability. (Real or perceived.) One can always spot the ulterior motives of the speaker by looking at the misconceptions they promote. ICBMs? They pound on survivability as if that is the one and only factor that matters. Cruise missiles? “DESTABILIZING!!!” despite the fact cruise missiles (both nuclear and conventional) have existed for over half a century and have never influenced nuclear stability negatively in the slightest. Hell, even 464 GLCM in Europe wasn’t the concern for Russia, it was the 108 Pershing IIs that gave them nightmares. One wants to raise the threshold for a nuclear strike as high as possible. ICBMs do that. Mobile ICBMs give you the best of both worlds. They raise the threshold by requiring an enemy actually strike the homeland to get at them, and they’re mobile which makes it even less likely to pay off. Funny how both Russia and China are deploying mobile ICBMs no?

        • sferrin

          Obama is still here. And yes, the ICBM (if it gets built at all) is going to be EXPENSIVE. That’s what happens when you have to reinvent many wheels. Also, the effectiveness of a system when it comes to deterrent goes far beyond it’s survivability. There’s also threshold of attack to consider. This is perhaps the most important characteristic. If China were to destroy 192 US nuclear warheads by sinking a US SSBN the blowback it might expect would be FAR less than to achieve the same thing by attacking silo-based ICBMs. Therefore it would be far less likely to try attacking 192 ICBMs than one SSBN. In other words, ICBMs raise the nuclear threshold, exactly what’s desired, no? Mobile ICBMs give you the best of both worlds. Note that both Russia and China are deploying those.

      • old guy

        TRUMP or CHUMP!

  • MLepay

    Not surprising with a new platform and technologies/configurations, but it appears they were using good engineering practices and caught it early and minimized the damage. I would like to see some reporting on engineering casualties on existing platforms like the Burke’s for example and see how they compare both when they were first launched and now after they have been in the fleet and had a chance to mature.

    • sferrin

      It’s no different than the F-35. People compare it with the F-16 (4400+ units produced) and ignorantly think they’re comparing apples to apples.

      • MLepay

        My point was I would expect that when the Burke’s came out they had their issues too, as would any new class. But because of there being less media/internet available then, any issues they did have were probably not as well publicized and dissected.

        • sferrin

          That’s pretty much what I said.

    • KillerClownfromOuterspace

      Sorry but this is a cooler. Nothing high tech about that. Seems to be going around a lot these days.

      • Fred Gould

        I question the ethics of American parts suppliers. One company in Jacksonville is on the hot seat from providing substandard parts for submarine reactors cooling systems. Two metal jobbers several years ago was charged with selling substandard steel for submarine construction. Company owners and execs need hard time to stop this problem.

        • KillerClownfromOuterspace

          Well subsafe/reactor equipment has a paper work trail. They only way you get around it is by committing fraud.

          • Fred Gould

            Fraud. Gundecked inspections and paperwork. Nothing new in Floriduh

        • old guy

          My firing squad candidate list grows longer

          • Fred Gould

            May I suggest the book “Lockheed And The Founding Of the Military Industrial Complex”.

        • Michael D. Woods

          “Your life is in the hands of the lowest bidder.”
          — Old Military Saying

          • Fred Gould

            Been that way since before the founding of the Republic.

      • MLepay

        True a cooler is nothing new, but depending on how it is being utilized, what it is constructed out of (unusual alloy maybe?) and how it was installed, this could be a unique configuration issue with some unexpected stress point that resulted in the leak.

        • KillerClownfromOuterspace

          I want say there have been cooler issues on new construction since the LPD17. I wish someone would do a study and give us all out here some guidance.

  • player2u

    22 Billion and the ships can’t provide credible NSFS for troops ashore. What a complete waste of money. Read Colonel Welch’s study on the need for a Surface Capital Warship. https://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/files/2007-05_JFSC_Thesis_NFS_and_DDG-1000.pdf

    • sferrin

      22 billion? Where are you getting your numbers?

    • El_Sid

      Talk about a study that fits to the conclusion desired! He “proves” that hypothetical $10bn Iowa replacements shooting hypothetical scramjet projectiles would be more effective than $2bn Burkes, and then separately “proves” they would be cheaper than $13bn Fords that can also do CAP, AEW etc etc.

      Meanwhile he goes on about magazine size without acknowledging that the Zumwalts can reload whilst firing, or that it looks like DDG-1002 will have a railgun.

  • PolicyWonk

    This is the first reported problem with the Zumwalt. It is normal to have some issues with the first in class, and Zumwalt has had fewer this early in the game.

    Here’s hoping Zumwalt and her sisters don’t have the same depth of issues that the LCS program has had (the most notorious program in the navy at this point).

    • sferrin

      (the most notorious program in the navy at this point).”

      Somebody has to be.

    • old guy

      NOT SO, the test model overturned in the DTNSRDC turning basin, years ago, hence “OLD FLOPOVER.”

      • sferrin

        Yet, miraculously it passed it’s maneuverability testing. Whoops.

      • PolicyWonk

        Well, going back to the modeling and wave tank (thats a long time ago) you are correct. Note that the USN didn’t use the BIW design – they used an “alternative”.

        But in the sea trials, the Zumwalt performed very well by all accounts. How she reacts/handles in a heavy sea is what remains to be seen, and even the guys who built her are more than slightly interested in that (let alone those who man her, and the rest of us).

  • MA

    Is the Navy or should I say the contractors building these ships buying their engine parts from a Chinese company? Or one the traitorous American companies who manufacture in China but sell here.

    • ExOfficer

      Maybe they should source them from China, seems like the USA has forgotten how to make anything that is of decent durable quality, look at the cars…

  • Ed L

    Tweaking and fixing all the small things before they become big problems on the newest cruiser in the navy. Hint hint

    • Arkitek Reyes

      Its like a really stupid gamble, and the funny thing is US taxpayers are paying dearly for it.

  • Gregory D Allen

    See, here is my point of contention. It’s a 16k ton “destroyer”. Realizing I have been out of the Navy for thirty years, this thing is a Cruiser! That’s like saying a 3500 lb 4×4 is an economy car. It’s a Cruiser! sorry for the rant.

    • RobM1981

      And now the LCS is going to be a Frigate… 🙂

      • old guy

        What’s in a name? A DD1000 or an LCS would smell, by any other names!

        • sferrin


      • PolicyWonk

        That transmogrification occurs via the magic of marketing!

        I did recently read that the so-called frigate version of the LCS will be based along the lines of the larger variant the Saudi’s have ordered (larger, more weapons, etc.).

        I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • Bill D.

      My Dad was on Fletcher class destroyers in WW2. They were 2100 tons. It’s outrageous to refer to a 16,000 ton ship as a destroyer!!

      • sferrin

        These days it’s more to do with function than tonnage. Burkes outweigh Ticonderogas but the Ticos are far more capable.

  • KillerClownfromOuterspace

    Sure seem to be having a lot of cooler problems. I wonder if the manufacturing has been switched to china.

  • TransformerSWO

    I thought the phrase sounded familiar. Surface Forces PAO is getting overworked.
    This from the Montgomery’s casualty the other day: “The built-in redundancy of the ship’s propulsion plant allows these
    ships to operate with multiple engine configurations. However, with the
    two casualties resulting in the loss of both port shafts, it was
    determined that the best course of action would be to send the ship to
    Mayport to conduct both repairs.”

  • Jffourquet

    Why am I not surptised to hear this?

  • Vlad Pufagtinenko

    Hope the repairs go well. We want the USS Zumwalt aiming its weaponry at the Kremlin ASAP

    • steelsil

      Donald Trump is a Russian agent, so if he’s elected, there will be NO US weapons aimed at the Kremlin.

      • Vlad Pufagtinenko

        Its OK comrade, European countries have their missiles aimed at the Kremlin. Go back to your vodka now.

  • RobM1981

    One data point does not a trend make.

    Be cool, for now.

    • Refguy

      But oil coolers on three classes of ships might be a trend. Not new technology, but poor workmanship or defective materials at the supplier(s).

      • Arkitek Reyes

        The recent former USN Swift turned over to a middle east country for use got blown up with a stingy Chinese made anti-ship missile. Watched the video of that. Although as I have read before the Zimwalt will be titanium alloy hauled as opposed to the aluminum hauled of the Swift still its a brittle steel. What are the chances that should that 4.4b USD ship got clipped by an anti-ship missile that armor won’t suffer the same faith.

        If you watch the video it was like a sudden wild fire. Uncontrolled! Must be terrifying to be on a ship that appeared to have melted away the armor.

        • Refguy


  • JohnByron

    The LCS-class are tied to the pier and can’t get across the pond (http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/2016/09/lcs-annus-horribilis.html). And now this.

    Blame goes to the surface-navy program shops in NavSea and to the surface navy itself.

    Fact: in the mid- to late-sixties, the number one reason surface warships could not deploy to Vietnam on schedule was engineering breakdowns, in that case specifically boiler casualties. It took extraordinary effort — extended waterside certification, requirement imposing extended-watersides standards on all boiler-powered ships, development of the 12-week Engineer Officer Training Course, such tougher boiler inspections, etc. — to turn things around.

    Once again the skimmer navy can’t keep its engineering plants on the line. What the hell is being done about it? Who’s been fired?

    Let’s go back to 1987, when I wrote this: http://www.usni.org/document/byron-john-1987-113-12-1018pdf?magazine_article=65610 Once again, the surface navy is not ready … and in the article, you’ll see recommendations that should be brought forward and applied here.

    The submarine force is operating ships more complex than these, under more extreme conditions, delivering new ships ahead of schedule (13 in a row) and under budget. Why does the surface navy not have similar results … and the standards that produce them?

    • DaSaint

      Good points, but let me say this: The submarine force ‘generally’ introduces evolutions of the prior class, not complete clean-sheet designs with little to do with the prior class. And when they produce those classes, they are in production for decades (see Los Angeles SSNs).
      By default, the surface forces have multiple classes, with multiple roles, and therefore less similarities and more to go wrong. Not an excuse, just an observation.

      • JohnByron

        Thanks you for the comment. I take your point, but not sure that conservative design instincts are bad. Nor do I necessarily agree that the new submarine designs are mostly evolutionary. Yes continuity. But the class-to-class leaps are gigantic and certainly equivalent to those in the surface fleet. The difference is that the new submarine designs work.

        The real point of my 1987 article is that the warfare communities have a lot to learn from each other, the surface navy especially. It’s painful to see points made 29 years ago still proven by events to be relevant today. For example, in surface warship design, the technology, the maintenance philosophy, the logistics support and second-level maintenance organization, the documentation and standardized procedures, and especially the training have to all be coordinated and in synch … lest you have a ZUMWALT and a bunch of LCSs that can’t steam. The surface navy, as a warfare sponsor and funder of all these things, seems to have a death-wish in these matters, opting for short-term savings at the expense of long-range readiness and maintainability. E.g., the support system designed into the FFG-7 class was never funded or fielded, putting the whole load on ship’s company which lacked the training, crew size, and basic gear to handle it. They did and hats off, but it wasn’t pretty. The lesson from submarines: don’t just design a pretty ship; design the support system to make the pretty ship mission-capable.

        The difference between submarine design issues and surface ship is this: if you screw it up on a surface ship, you get towed home. If you screw it up on a submarine, you die. I’m not suggesting capital punishment for those who can’t field sound engineering systems … but an occasional cashiering might help.

        • DaSaint

          Agreed, the surface navy should learn something from the submarine community. The more that changes…

  • JohnByron
  • old guy

    OL’ FLOPOVER had a BREAKDOWN, not a “casualty”. If we build anymore of this travesty, we deserve to run out of a USEFUL navy. Let me list its faults:
    1. It is based on a 50 year old concept that small radar cross section is vital. Silly, Satellites and GPS locate all ships with 2 foot accuracy. and at the higher latitudes, bioluminescence defines ship tracks. Weapons are GPS and laser designated, not Radar.
    2. “TUMBLEHOME” design, which reduces righting moment with roll angle makes the ship unstable and difficult to maneuver in rough weather conditions.
    3. Design obviates any weapon installation changes.

    • sferrin

      Jesus. I’d refute your post but what would be the point?

    • Dolomite

      Oh my, you should be in charge of EVERYTHING. You are evidently MUCH smarter than everybody in the Navy whose real motive is to put young Americans on ships that will sink and kill them.

      I am sure they never considered any of the things you are bringing up.

      • old guy

        Not sure if you are being sarcastic, or not. If not, I will tell you that my guys in the ’70s developed everything from AALC (now LCAC). PHM, 3K SES, Crane ship, SEAMOD and DDX and more. I happened to be at DTNSRDC on a NAVAIR job, when the DD1000 model capsized and I headed a PRO BONO team of experts that recommended rebids for the crummy LCS designs.

        • sferrin

          “Not sure if you are being sarcastic, or not.”

          He’s not. And I agree with him. You sound unhinged.

          • old guy

            OK, please explain, point for point.

          • sferrin

            “It is based on a 50 year old concept that small radar cross section is vital.”

            It is. That determines how well radar detects targets. That’s why today’s aircraft are designed with stealth at the forefront if they want to be competitive. Don’t want to be detected by radar (the primary source of targeting information for antiship missiles)? Then you need to reduce your RCS.

            “Silly, Satellites and GPS locate all ships with 2 foot accuracy.”

            Sure. Your OWN ship, not the other guys. Not very much good for targeting I’d say.

            “TUMBLEHOME” design, which reduces righting moment with roll angle makes the ship unstable and difficult to maneuver in rough weather conditions.”

            Makes it LESS stable (all else being equal, which is not a given). If it were unstable it’d just tip over at the pier. Where is the CG located? Does it have active stabilization? Those things matter. See “X-bow” for example.

            “Design obviates any weapon installation changes.”
            Explain how it does so anymore than any other design. You gonna rip out the gun on a Burke and put a VLS there? Why would it be possible on a Burke but impossible on a Zumwalt?

          • old guy

            GREAT. In that you disagree, it gives me an opportunity to explain, rationally, rather than name calling. I will do it one point at a time because I run out of steam. let’s start with “Tumblehome”
            The distance from the ship CG to its center of buoyancy ABOVE is designated as Kg. When large the ship is stable, When small, as in most combat ships, it REQUIRES that the righting moment be large. This was marginal with some 4 stackers. As a consequence, we had capsizes in WW2. When large, as in a barge, SES or SWATH capsize is almost unknown. Conventional design (deck beam GREATER than waterline beam) increases righting moment with roll angle. Tumblehome (deck beam SMALLER than waterline beam) reduces righting moment, resulting in capsize potential. Although this is not apparent in normal operation or in port, it IS in any high roll condition, such as maneuvering in a storm.
            More later.

          • deafndumb

            The WW II tin cans ( none were WW I 4 stackers) went down in a typhoon and were riding high in the water in part because they failed to flood their empty fuel tanks and also they were on a course that put them at a large angle to the waves and wind.

  • Refguy

    At least the crew caught it pier side. As others have commented, is there a supplier issue with heat exchangers? Is there a common supplier for both LCS classes and the Zumwalt? Has there been a change in material? With three different yards, it’s probably not the the builder, but QC at the receiving end of the yard (and by the Navy) seems to be lacking

  • howard_t

    New classes/designs of ships always come fully equipped with a number of problems. The run of defective oil coolers is troubling, but it is the sort of thing that is likely to be solved and corrected by the application of rigorous investigation and solid engineering. This is nothing new. In 1949 the keel was laid for USS Norfolk, the ship that would become EDL-1. She was home-ported in Boston in the ’50s, and one of my older sisters was dating one of her crew. He always said that “EDL” was supposed to stand for “Experimental Destroyer Leader”, but it really stood for “Eternal Dock Lover”. Thus it has long been true with new classes of ships.

    • Refguy

      Of the tens of millions of cars and light trucks sold world-wide every year, how many have coolant contamination of their oil and transmission cooler in the first three months after delivery? liquid-to-liquid heat exchangers aren’t new technology.

  • Dave Lacey

    This epidemic of similar failures of the newer engineering schemes promises catastrophic fleet consequences. Remember the the disaster of defective torpedo engineering in early WW2?
    Dave Lacey

  • Zumwault, LCS’s all with engineering causalities and all involving some parts of lubricating oil systems. Either poor designs or lousy operators. Could be the small crews also. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret.

  • omegatalon

    Hopefully it’s not the same type of situation as the LCS in that the ship is simply too complex for the crewman to maintain as well as insufficient size crew to handle the work detailed as these ships work very well during the evaluation process with company engineers are overseeing all needed service for the ships.

  • Paul001

    At $437,500,000 per k ton, you can call it “Sue” for all it matters. Smells like an obscene waste of money!

    • sferrin

      Because you’re ignorant. That’s not an insult, it’s a fact. If you educate yourself it makes more sense. What doesn’t make sense is that they spent all that money to develop the new hull and are now going to piss it away by truncating the buy, and forgoing it’s use on the Ticonderoga replacement – where they’ll get to spend all that R&D money all over again.

      • Cocidius

        Uh – calling someone ignorant is an insult. But why start caring now, right?

    • deafndumb

      The original plan was to build 30 but now only 3. Thus the R&D and the tooling and software costs are apportioned to the three ships. That alone added more than 1 billion to the cost. The same goes for the $ 800,000 shell.
      I would have preferred the Marines getting their naval gun support from a heavily protected battle cruiser like the WW II Alaska class. The Zumwalt once detected is easier to sink and detected it will be once it starts firing.

  • Frisco1522

    I hate the thought of a ship being named after Lyndon Johnson.

    • Ned_Kelly_707

      OR “Chay-tsar Cha-vez”

    • sixfootrabbit

      What about Harvey Milk? Seriously!

      • Frisco1522

        That’s even worse.

        • sixfootrabbit

          I really couldn’t believe it when I read it. I would surely hate to be a crewman on that ship.

          • Frisco1522

            With today’s new relaxed rules with transgender and the like, they will have no problem getting a crew to serve proudly. I’m glad I did my military service back in the’60s before all that crap.

          • sixfootrabbit

            I’m afraid you’re right.

          • Arkitek Reyes

            4.4B USD a ship? Wow, and to think the builders and designers would have gotten it right the first time. With that budget the error margin for mistakes should have been weeded out, much more training the crew with that long of a developmental stage and still its a major flaw. Somethings not right, and its not the gender issue its more like incompetency. In anycase who pays for the repairs? The builders? Designers?

          • Hugh

            Don’t fear “Ben Dover” —

        • Steve Clark

          SS TRUMP???

  • Ruckweiler

    Methinks that the Admiral would be appalled that this ship was named after him.

  • Robert

    Engineering Casualty ==> “It’s DEAD, Jim!”