Jan 13, 2022
USS Lyndon B. Johnson, the third and final hull in the Zumwalt-class destroyer series, has departed Bath Iron Works. The vessel has not technically been delivered: her hull, mechanical and electrical systems are complete, according to BIW, and Ingalls Shipbuilding will finish the installation of her weapons systems.
The previous two hulls, USS Zumwalt and USS Michael Monsoor, were accepted for “special” delivery without weapons systems, then fully crewed and transferred to San Diego for a years-long process of weapons installation and commissioning. This unusual construction strategy will not be used for USS Lyndon B. Johnson; instead, the service will wait to take delivery of the vessel until it is close to a finished state.
The Zumwalt-class is built around several unique features: a tumblehome hull, an integrated electric propulsion system and a pair of unique 155mm cannons. The cannons were designed to take a special precision-guided ammunition round for shore bombardment, the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). However, when the class was pared back to three ships due to excessive cost, the price per round went up, ending at nearly $1 million for each shot. The Navy opted not to move forward with buying the ammunition due to the unjustifiable cost, making the cannons unusable.
In future years, the Zumwalt class will likely have at least one cannon and magazine removed in favor of vertical-launch tubes for the hypersonic Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) missile system, which is currently under development. The Navy believes that CPS will “enhance U.S. conventional power projection through longer range, shorter time of flight, and higher survivability against enemy defenses.” It has budgeted $230 million to support CPS integration aboard the Zumwalt class beginning in FY2025.
The Zumwalt series may be finished, but several features will live on in the next-generation DDG(X) destroyer design. USNI reports that the Navy plans to incorporate a Zumwalt-style integrated power system (IPS) in DDG(X) to provide the electrical power for directed energy weapons, like high-wattage lasers. The CPS capability will be featured as well.
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