The largest destroyer ever built for the U.S. Navy is undergoing sea trials along the Maine coast this week.
Built at Bath Iron Works, the 600-ft, 15,000-ton USS Zumwalt cost about $4.4 billion, and took about a decade to build.
“It’s the toughest looking ship,” said Bath, Maine City Manager Bill Giroux. “I think people are really proud of what this ship can do, and how impressive it looks.”
Hundreds gathered in downtown Bath to watch the Zumwalt depart BIW for sea trials Monday morning. The vessel is expected to stop in Portland Monday night, and return to Bath by Sunday. The goal is to make adjustments to the ship this winter, and deliver it to the Navy next year.
“There’s hardly even words for it, because it’s so state of the art,” said Bath resident Marion Massey.
The Zumwalt is being called the “ship of the future.” Outfitted with the latest in technology and missiles, it is sharp angles and sleek design make it a stealth destroyer, designed to evade enemy radar.
“I think it’s far beyond anything that’s been manufactured to date,” said BIW Engineer Chip Simpson. “It’s a leap ahead.”
But some critics look at the unique design, and question its seaworthiness.
“I just really don’t know how well it’s going to function,” said Lee Frederick, a Bath resident who served decades in the Navy.
It has what’s called a “tumblehome” hull with an inward slope, allowing the ship to pass through waves instead of rising over them.
“These are the highest tech vessels in the world, and we’re building them,” said Giroux. “We hope to keep building them, and we hope the Navy wants more Zumwalts.”
BIW has the contract to build a total of three Zumwalt destroyers.