The Zumwalt-class USS Lyndon B. Johnson was launched Dec. 9 at General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine. The process of launching a ship is a multi-day process that includes moving the ship from the land level facility to the dry dock which is then slowly flooded until the ship is afloat. With the ship in the water, final outfitting and production can commence. The ship is expected to be christened in 2019 and enter active service in 2021, along with the Zumwalt and Michael Monsoor, the other two ships of the Zumwalt-class.
“It’s important for the DDG 1000 program and shipyard to reach this major milestone,” said Capt. Kevin Smith, DDG 1000 program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “With the first two ships of the class underway, we are excited to continue the next phase of construction of the future Lyndon B. Johnson.” Capt. Jeremy Gray, the prospective commanding officer, said it’s impressive to see the ship afloat, “and we look forward to taking her to sea.”
The Zumwalt-class destroyers feature a state-of-the-art electric propulsion system, wave-piercing tumblehome hull, stealth design and are equipped with the most advanced warfighting technology and weaponry. These ships will be capable of performing a range of deterrence, power projection, sea control, and command and control missions while allowing the Navy to evolve with new systems and missions. The Zumwalt-class is supposed to be the most advanced destroyer ever built, with stealth technology and a gun system that could provide precision fire support for amphibious forces.
The ships are equipped with eighty MK57 vertical launch tubes, each capable of accommodating one to four missiles including SM-1, SM-2 and SM-6 missiles or Tomahawk land-attack missiles. It is billed to having a electrical propulsion system that can manage future power heavy systems such as lasers. For a surface combatant, it is large, at nearly 15,000 tons, making it the heaviest in its class built by the United States. The gun system has been left as an option due to the cost of the round designed for it. The Navy has said in multiple Congressional hearings and statements that they will wait for relevant technology or remove it for space.