Home » News & Analysis » USS Zumwalt Commissions In Baltimore; Will Test, Train On East Coast Before Transit to San Diego


USS Zumwalt Commissions In Baltimore; Will Test, Train On East Coast Before Transit to San Diego

Balloons fly and the crowd applauds as the Navy's newest and most technologically advanced warship, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), is brought to life during a commissioning ceremony at North Locust Point in Baltimore. US Navy photo.

Balloons fly and the crowd applauds as the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced warship, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), is brought to life during a commissioning ceremony at North Locust Point in Baltimore. US Navy photo.

The Navy commissioned its most technologically advanced ship this weekend, bringing destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) into the fleet in a ceremony in Baltimore, Md.

Commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Tom Rowden at the ceremony called Zumwalt “the most incredible ship of our time” and told namesake Adm. Elmo Zumwalt’s family in attendance that “a ship bearing your dad’s name is long overdue.”

The crew of the Navy's newest and most technologically advanced warship, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), brings the ship to life during a commissioning ceremony at North Locust Point in Baltimore. US Navy photo.

The crew of the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced warship, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), brings the ship to life during a commissioning ceremony at North Locust Point in Baltimore. US Navy photo.

“This ship symbolizes our commitment to remain bold, to remain the world’s preeminent naval force,” he said.
“It has been said that Adm. Zumwalt’s forward thinking brought the Navy kicking and screaming into the 20th century. Indeed, it is only fitting that this ship’s forward design and innovative technology will set the pace for the 21st century as well. And just like Bud Zumwalt, this ship and her crew will remain dedicated to our Navy and our nation in good times and bad and for decades to come.”

The ship will eventually join the U.S. Pacific Fleet and operate out of San Diego. U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris said at the ceremony that “we can’t get this technological marvel to the Pacific fast enough, and it couldn’t come at a more pivotal moment in our nation’s history.”

Left to right, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Sean Stackley; Commander, U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Harry Harris; Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson; and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus render honors for the national anthem during the commissioning ceremony for the Navy's newest and most technologically advanced warship, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000). US Navy photo.

Left to right, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Sean Stackley; Commander, U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Harry Harris; Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson; and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus render honors for the national anthem during the commissioning ceremony for the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced warship, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000). US Navy photo.

Naming the many global threats the Navy faces and pointing to North Korea as the most dangerous threat in his area of operations, he said “Zumwalt will play a heavy role in giving us the clear edge in these challenges.”

“We must continue to develop and field combat power like this ship to defend the U.S. homeland and the homeland of our allies,” Harris continued.
“Indeed, it’s fitting that Zumwalt’s motto is Pax Propter Vim, Latin for ‘peace through power.’ …. The technology in Zumwalt’s unique hull and the ingenuity of her stalwart crew are powerful guarantors of peace. They are embodiment of America’s determined will. As our newest class of destroyer enters active service, I can’t imagine a ship more like its namesake – Adm. Zumwalt was an innovative visionary and the groundbreaking DDG-1000 delivers not just credible combat power but incredible combat power. Zumwalt will assure our Navy and our entire joint force remain ready to fight tonight.”

Ahead of the commissioning ceremony, the ship’s leadership hosted media on Oct. 13. Ship Commanding Officer Capt. James Kirk told reporters on the pier next to his ship that he was honored to be the first commander of a ship named after former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Zumwalt.

“Adm. Zumwalt was a reformer; he changed our Navy in massive ways,” he said.
“Some that make this ship and the fleet a more potent fighting force, but most importantly he reformed the institution of the Navy to be more just and fair to all its sailors, making sure that all sailors regardless of race or creed, color, faith had an opportunity to serve in whatever capacity that their heart and their passion desired to. And those reforms we see today manifest in this great Navy that we have that reflects all of the diversity of our country.”

USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) sits pierside at Canton Port Services in preparation for its commissioning on Oct. 15, 2016. US Navy photo.

USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) sits pierside at Canton Port Services in preparation for its commissioning on Oct. 15, 2016. US Navy photo.

Zumwalt delivered to the Navy in May and left the Bath Iron Works shipyard last month to head to Naval Station Norfolk and eventually to Baltimore for the commissioning ceremony. Kirk said the ship had used that time at sea to continue refining the operating manuals sailors developed, making them clearer, more precise and more effective. For example, he said, “one of the steps in our transfer of our throttle control, we had one of those steps that you really had to know how many seconds to push it, and if you didn’t push it that long it didn’t like that. So we made sure that we’re very specific about that in our procedures, and now we have a very effective procedure that works every time.”

Kirk said the ship would conduct tests, trials and other operations on the East Coast for a bit before heading to San Diego and arriving in its homeport by the end of the year. The ship will then undergo combat systems installation, activation and testing in San Diego before becoming an operational asset for the fleet and preparing for its maiden deployment.

  • Steel Man

    This a light cruiser with the firepower of a battleship… not a destroyer.

    • Ctrot

      I agree on light cruiser, but her firepower doesn’t come near that of an Iowa class BB.

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    I wonder will there be any CIWS integration?

    • B.J. Blazkowicz

      That’s already covered by the SeaSparrows and Bushmaster IIs are no slouch either.

      • redblue

        If ESSM was enough then the USN wouldn’t have decided to add back Phalanx on the Flight IIs, and wouldn’t be looking at more SeaRAM beyond just the BMD tasked Burkes right now.

        The Bushmaster is a complete slouch for air defense, and even for swarm attacks considering it can be outranged by both modern ATGMs and light rockets, it’s hardly impressive.

        • Marauder 2048

          Because the Flight II’s don’t have the radar resources to perform the BMD and self-defense roles simultaneously.

        • Charles Haas

          Phalanx and SeaRAM will be useful against C-802 type missiles, but won’t stop supersonic missiles like the SS-N-27 Sizzler, mostly due to their short range. Those missiles typically have an end game maneuver that make them harder to hit also. ESSM provides a greater reach than those systems, attacking the missiles before they enter the supersonic end game dash and maneuvers. The ESSM can also be loaded as a quad pack in the Mk-41 VLS silos allowing the ship to load out more missiles. The ESSM is also a better value for defeating cruise missiles than Standard missiles.

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        I wouldn’t want to put all my eggs in the ESSM basket.

        Plus, those two auto-cannons taken from European IFVs are not useful as an anti-missile CIWS

        • sferrin

          You’re talking about the Millennium Gun?

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            No, the 2 x 30mm bushmasters that were installed behind the deck house instead of the proposed 2 x 57mm guns.

          • sferrin

            Yeah. Those suck IMO. The footage out there shows they have problems even hitting relatively slow boats.

      • sferrin

        Bushmaster isn’t a CIWS. (Not in the sense meant here anyway.) This thing could really use a pair of Goalkeepers or RAM launchers.

    • RobM1981

      I would think that CIWS would add a real radar hot-spot, at least as currently designed.

      We have no idea – and no need to know – how stealthy the DDG1000 really is. It certainly *looks* very LO. How effective is that, in and of itself, at defeating an ASM/SSM?

      Let’s not publish that. If ECM, ESSM, and LO are the right combination… then they’re the right combination.

      We just have to keep the faith. The navy has been underwhelming us with the LCS and F-35, but the Ford looks good, the Virginia’s are fantastic, etc.

      I have a real issue with the Zumwalt not having SM-6 capabilities, and I believe the guns are a waste of valuable space, but as a platform the DDG-1000 is very exciting. The future-proofing by supplying all of that power is fantastic.

      • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

        Something that raises from the deck as needed might have been smart….. and probably achievable in a ship so large and berthing so few.

      • Ed L

        Looks like a modernize version of the Olympia, Hull wise.

        • RobM1981

          It does… but that doesn’t make it ineffective. A lot of things have changed in those 100+ years. We have no idea, and no need to know, what technologies might be in place to keep that hull stable, while also keeping it LO.

          Which doesn’t make it dry.

          It might be stable, maybe, but it certainly cannot be a dry hull in any kind of serious sea state. Is that a huge issue? Maybe… maybe not.

      • Bowser

        Sadly, the whole “stealth” business relies on calm seas for effectiveness. Once the Zumwalt rolls in the seaway her radar cross section will change upward. Are we buying a pig in a poke or real proven systems. However, with a dramatically reduced crew size comes a reduction in damage control. If this vessel can be spotted by the Mk. 1 Eyeball, it can be struck with munitions. And if it is, effective damage control, like that which saved the USS Franklin in 1945, will be key in saving this multi-billion dollar vessel and it’s crew.

        • Charles Haas

          As many ASCM target the largest radar target, this should make the DDG-1000, with an RCS of a small fishing ship, less likely to be struck over other ships in a battle group. The stealthiness of the ship is less important that the integrated electical system providing considerable more elecctrical power to the ship. This is one of the first ships developed this way, making use of solid state lasers and rail guns much more likely. While it isn’t discussed much, the radar on the ship is the link between SPY-1 and SPY-6 AMDR. These radar improvements will greatly increase the effectiveness of the fleet also.

          • RobM1981

            I try to avoid speculating too much into capabilities that aren’t published, because unlike Mrs. Clinton I don’t like to give “the other guys” any ideas. With that said, I have to agree with you totally re: the value of all of that power. There are *so* many ways to use it. Defensively, today, but clearly there are plans to generate offensive platforms like rail-guns and beam weapons.

            I like the Zumwalt, mostly. I only wish they had given it ABM capabilities, and replaced one of those silly rifles with more VLS capacity.

            Someday those rifles will be replaced with rail guns, that will allow much larger magazine capacities.

        • sferrin

          How does one buy a “proven” system without proving it?

      • Charles Haas

        I’m pretty sure the Marines don’t think the guns are a waste of space! They are a constituent group that needs to considered seriously. Unfortunately the DDG-1000 was not supposed to be a contributor to the BMD system, and the SM-6 will be very populated over the DDG-51 and CG-47 classes for many years to come.

        • RobM1981

          Sorry I’m late with this.

          The guns are neither fish nor fowl, in my opinion.

          They can be out-ranged by virtually any SSM. Even 50 miles offshore, a Zumwalt is easily in range of a lot of platforms. Thus the USN isn’t going to let it get that close until the threat of those weapons is neutralized. That’s going to happen via aircraft, TLAM’s, etc. But the Zumwalt isn’t getting into range until it’s safe to do so.

          The Navy has proven, time and again, that it doesn’t like to be chained to a hot-shoreline. This is what the F-18 and F-35’s are for: neutralize the situation.

          THEN the Zumwalts will come in and provide close fire support. But why, then, devote all of that money and space to these “super-guns” when a more normal weapon would be fine? Why not arm this cruiser-sized hull with a modern 155mm or even 8″ rifle, with a more reasonable range of, say, 15 miles? A single rifle with a larger magazine, throwing a much heavier shell, would likely be more welcomed by the Marines going ashore.

          I have to think that if anyone asked the USMC, this is what they would want.

          As an anti-ship weapon, the rifle is marginalized at this point. In the age of SSM’s a Zumwalt will be engaging a modern surface targets well outside the range of even the longest-ranged rifle. For non-modern targets, like pirates, a 155mm is more than enough. Heck, a 30mm is likely more than enough.

          • Charles Haas

            As we see with the Yemen crisis, ASCMs aren’t unstoppable. Certainly there are some that require great care, typically owned by Russia and China, but most countries we are likely to fight do not have great ASCMs. Now, guns will typically be the best form of fire support to the Marines, and those on the DDG-1000 are the best available. These guns are 155mm by the way, but I doubt they are compatible with US Army munitions, which would have been wise.

            The guns aren’t really good anti-ship weapons that is agreed, unless you are just trolling for merchant ships. Probably would scare the *hit out of most Iranian speed boats too.

      • sferrin

        Why would you think it doesn’t have SM-6 capability?

  • publius_maximus_III

    Elmo Zumwalt had quite an amazing life story, a USN career spanning WW-II through the Vietnam War, the latter during which he served as CNO. A well-written biography is available through the USNI.

    Dad once attended a similar commissioning ceremony in Norfolk for the USS Vella Gulf, a CG named for a night engagement in the Pacific during WW-II during which his ship, the USS Dunlap, was flagship for a six destroyer task force. The U.S. force sunk three Japanese destroyers and damaged a fourth using coordinated torpedo sprays and shelling, with no U.S. casualties. The big difference was our ships had pretty good radar, theirs didn’t. Quite an advantage at midnight after the moon has set and it’s pitch dark.

    • old guy

      It’s a shame they named “Old Flopover” after my old boss. He must be spinning.

      • publius_maximus_III

        Again, old guy, I thank you for your service. And we’ve already debated your beliefs about whether this is a tumblehome design ad nauseum, so will not rehash that here.

        I know a retired USN Intel Captain from Zummie’s era who never forgave him for taking away his beloved khaki uniforms. You may not know it, but Zumwalt had a son wiho served in the USN in Vietnam, who died of cancer later in life, a direct result of exposure to Agent Orange along the banks of the VC-infested rivers he patrolled. His CNO father had approved its use to reduce the number of casualties from snipers hiding in the foilage.

  • sferrin

    Hopefully they’re wise enough to use this hull for the Ticonderoga replacement (like they’d originally intended). Of course we know they won’t. They’ll replace them with Burkes and then tell us they’re better.

    • old guy

      You MUST be kidding. The ‘Burke’s hull design is superior in EVERY significant way.

      • sferrin

        As it relates to moving through the water, sure. (Assuming you’re referring to the Ticos.) As it relates to combat capability? No. Fewer missile cells, half the guns, half the directors for missiles, and less capable in the area of battle management. And compared to a Zumwalt based solution it wouldn’t even be close. Lastly, the object is to replace old with BETTER, not “almost as good as the old one”.

  • Larry Munden

    With a Captain James Kirk, how could it not be a great ship, with a brilliant future?

  • RobM1981

    Godspeed, Zumwalt!

    • old guy

      Stay away from stormy seas. and out of sharp turning maneuvers.

      • Niki Ptt

        Oh, another reader of Mr Park McGraw blog, who didn’t do his homework on the legitimacy of the authors and the content of the article itself.
        This guy is no architect, and is basically a pathologic liar…

  • Bowser

    I have my doubts about this dog with fleas. But why has Secretary Mabus slouched through the ceremony without being able to pull his right hand over his heart? Or is the Secretary, like Ray Kaepernick, showing his personal disdain for some horrible aspect of America which he eschews? Someday, if we survive as a nation, we’ll be shuck of these poseurs and liberal hucksters who place social engineering ahead of the lives of our sailors and the preparedness of our nation.

    • sferrin

      Disagree (vehemently) with your “dog with fleas” comment. The rest of your post gets three cheers from me.

  • Jim The Last

    Oh yes, such a wonderful ship. A “destroyer” that’s bigger than a WW2 heavy cruiser, that costs ½ as much as a new aircraft carrier. Oh yes, such a wonderful ship. Toro Caca.