USS Zumwalt Arrives in Mississippi for Hypersonic Weapon Installation

August 19, 2023 4:20 PM
USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) arrives at Ingalls Shipbuilding sailing past the under-construction Bougainville (LHA-8) on Aug. 19, 2023. HII Photo

Guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) arrived in Mississippi on Saturday to begin a two-year process to install hypersonic missile tubes, USNI News has learned.

“USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) arrived in Pascagoula, Miss., today to enter a modernization period and receive technology upgrades including the integration of the Conventional Prompt Strike weapon system,” reads a statement from the Navy provided to USNI News.
“The upgrades will ensure Zumwalt remains one of the most technologically advanced and lethal ships in the U.S. Navy.”

The ship arrived Saturday afternoon after leaving San Diego earlier this month.

“To the crew and families of the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), we would like to extend the warmest welcome to the newest members of our shipyard community. It is an honor for us to serve you and the Navy by doing this important work,” Ingalls president Kari Wilkinson said in a statement.

The 16,000-ton warship pulled into Ingalls Shipbuilding for the availability that will pop off the existing twin 155 mm Advanced Gun Systems and replace them with four 87-inch missile tubes.

The tubes will each hold three Common Hypersonic Glide Bodies (C-HGB) – hypersonic missiles being developed jointly between the U.S. Army and the Navy – for a total of 12 missiles on the ship.

The C-HGB is part of a Department of Defense effort to field multiple conventional prompt strike platforms that can strike targets anywhere in the world with no warning.

The Navy also plans to upgrade USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) and Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) at Ingalls. Monsoor is currently in San Diego and LBJ  is currently at the yard undergoing combat system installation and activation.

A 2009 Lockheed Martin oil painting of a Long Range Land Attack Projectile Strike from a Zumwalt by artisit Richard Thompson. Lockheed Martin Image Used With Permission

The Navy wants the weapons installed and the destroyer ready to deploy by 2025. Initially created as a littoral combatant that would support troops ashore with the Long-Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). The rocket-assisted LRLAP would have fire guided rounds from the AGS to hit targets up to 60 nautical miles. However, when the class was reduced to three ships from 30 the cost of the rounds became unaffordable. USNI News reported in 2016 that it would cost $1.8 to 2 billion to buy 2,000 rounds for the three ships.

The Navy decided instead to shift the focus of Zumwalt from close to shore to blue water with the installation of hypersonic weapons.

“We’re talking about deploying this system on DDG-1000 in 2025, that’s three years from now,” Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe, the head of the Navy’s strategic systems programs, told reporters at the Naval Submarine League’s annual symposium in November.

In June, the Government Accountability Office raised doubts the weapons will be ready in time.

“The CPS program office noted that significant scope and challenges associated with the first-time integration of CPS may present risks to achieving DDG 1000’s installation schedule. In reviewing CPS program office information on critical technologies, we found that significant work remains for the program to demonstrate technology maturity,” reads the report.
“If the hypersonic weapon is not ready for integration on the DDG 1000 at the time of the aforementioned maintenance period, the Navy may have to extend the duration of the planned maintenance period or wait for the next scheduled period to incorporate the system on the ship.”

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

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