Depending on who you ask, the USS Zumwalt is often touted as one of the most advanced warships on the planet, but some experts also believe that it’s a failure. There are always gonna be missteps and revisions in the world of engineering, but for a naval destroyer to miss the mark means that the U.S. government will have to foot the bill… and by that, we really mean you and me, as taxpayers. More than $22 billion later, see what the Zumwalt-class destroyer was built to do and the concerns surrounding it.
USS Zumwalt DDG-1000 Is Missing the Mark
Anything involving national defense is going to cost a pretty penny, but when you’re making the largest destroyer ship in the world, all while trying to conceal it with the latest technological advancements in radars and stealth, costs are going to rise rapidly.
On top of the $22.4 billion it cost in research and development, the USS Zumwalt, one of three Zumwalt destroyer class ships, cost over $4 billion to create. The 600’ warship was built to hold a crew of 150+ and provide an effective firing range of 100 nautical miles.
The USS Zumwalt is nuclear powered and comes with many advanced vertical launchers suitable for specific missile types. The bells and whistles are there, but there are still many questions surrounding the naval ship as it fails to shake its history of equipment problems.
Military Watch Magazine reported issues back in 2018, saying that the USS Zumwalt “suffered from poorly functioning weapons, stalling engines and an underperformance in their stealth capabilities, among other shortcomings.”
Additional coverage from the source stated that “They have almost entirely failed to fulfill the originally intended role of multipurpose destroyer warships, while the scale of cost overruns alone brings the viability of the program into question even if the destroyers were able to function as intended.”
Things became bad quickly, with reports stating that the U.S. Navy was even considering repurposing the Zumwalt Destroyers as nuclear-armed attack ships. The USS Michael Monsoor, a warship in the same class, would also fail its sea trials in 2017. The USS Zumwalt DDG-1000 is also missing a variety of necessary defense features for any modern ship, such as anti-torpedoes, long-range air defense missiles, and anti-ship missiles.
These missteps and oversights are marring what could be an otherwise excellent destroyer. The idea behind Zumwalt-class destroyers is great, but the execution… not so much.
Improving the Navy Is a Must
Regardless of any other conflicts or threats, improving the U.S. Navy is a continued concern for the government. The need for improvements comes on multiple occasions where naval ships have been running into maintenance and funding issues.
The climate for the U.S. remaining at peace is also deteriorating. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is escalating the need for countries to increase their national security. There is also a modern threat growing in Asia as China continues to push the envelope and expand its influence throughout islands that are both natural and artificially created.
War should be avoided, and diplomacy helps the U.S. do that in most cases, but the security concerns surrounding the U.S. Navy are real. The USS Zumwalt is as ambitious as it is necessary to keep America safe today and in the future.
Room for Improvement or Not, the USS Zumwalt Still Has a Purpose
Regardless of what the future holds, one thing is for sure: You don’t spend billions of dollars on ships without having them used for something. Even if the USS Zumwalt is repurposed, or if the entire thing is a very expensive lesson, some good has come out of the development of the warships.
The U.S. was able to make the largest destroyer have a radar cross-section that resembles only a fishing boat. The weapons may need tweaking, but they are still effective in an ever-changing world that may emphasize more warfare on the water sooner rather than later. Its nuclear capabilities are interesting for any number of applications. Overall, the USS Zumwalt ships may not be perfect, but they are part of the war machine that maintains freedom in America.
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Image: Raytheon Missiles & Defense