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article imageU.S. Navy shows off its new Zumwalt-class destroyer

By Karen Graham     Dec 9, 2015 in Technology
The U.S. Navy's new Zumwalt-class destroyer is a real one-of-its-kind warship. Not only is it the largest in the U.S. fleet, but it will be the first warship to power lasers and rail guns that haven't even been developed yet.
After the $4 billion Zumwalt left the Bath Iron Works shipyard, it embarked on a journey down the Kennebec River in Maine this week, heading for the Atlantic Ocean and the start of sea trials.
Looking more like a ship in a science-fiction movie, the futuristic warship, commanded by Navy Capt. James Kirk, who just happens to share the same name as the "Star Trek" captain, James T. Kirk, will engage in testing of its stability and its new electromagnetic power design.
The 610-foot-long,15,480-ton destroyer has an unusual pyramid-shaped hull that slopes out at the bottom in a stealthy “tumble-home” design, instead of sloping in like most warships. This should make it harder to detect on radar because the ship will look no bigger than a fishing boat on radar.
But the new hull design has raised some concerns over the ship's stability in rough seas. Sea trials should help in answering these concerns. The ship is capable of operating in shallow waters, laying down fire in supporting land forces, as well as conducting anti-aircraft fire and naval surface warfare.
Powering this maritime marvel is a newly integrated all-electric power system: The ship's gas-turbine engines power generators, instead of propellers. This system provides the ship with electrical energy that can be used to power some very intriguing weapons, never before seen at sea. The propellers operate using electricity through electromagnets, conserving energy for other tasks.
As a historical note, the Zumwalt was supposed to be one of 32 ships, but as costs began to skyrocket, some naval officials tried to get the project scrapped. Instead, the program was shrunk to just three ships: The USS Zumwalt, the USS Michael Monsoor (named after a Navy SEAL who was killed in Iraq and earned the Medal of Honor) and the USS Lyndon B. Johnson. But according to the Herald Online, there is talk of cancelling the third ship, according to some reports.
The Zumwalt will get the "USS" designation when it is christened. Plans are to use the warship for testing an electromagnetic rail gun, still under development. The Zumwalt can launch projectiles using electromagnetic impulses at Mach 7, or seven times the speed of sound, at targets 110 miles away.
More about Us navy, zumwaltclass destroyer, largest warship, pyramid shape, difficult to detect on radar
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