5th November 2013
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works have successfully launched the US Navy’s first Zumwalt-class destroyer at their Bath, Maine shipyard. The vessel makes extensive use of composite materials to save weight and reduce maintenance costs.
The ship began its translation from Bath Iron Works’ land-level construction facility to a floating dry dock on Friday. Once loaded into the dry dock, the dock was flooded and the ship was removed from its specially designed cradle. By late Monday, the dock had been flooded and the ship was floated off and tied to a pier on the Kennebec River.
“This is the largest ship Bath Iron Works has ever constructed and the Navy’s largest destroyer. The launch was unprecedented in both its size and complexity,” said Capt. Jim Downey, the Zumwalt-class program manager for the Navy’s Program Executive Office, Ships. “Due to meticulous planning and execution, the operation went very smoothly. I’m extremely pleased with the results and applaud the combined efforts of the Navy-industry team.”
Construction began on DDG 1000 in February 2009, and the Navy and its industry partners have worked to mature the ship’s design and ready their industrial facilities to build this advanced surface combatant. Zumwalt is currently more than 87 percent complete, and the shipbuilder will continue remaining construction work on the hull prior to planned delivery late next year.
Because of the complexity of the first-of-class ship, the Navy will perform a two-phase delivery process. Bath Iron Works will deliver the ship itself to the Navy in late 2014. Upon delivery, the Navy will then conduct combat systems activation, tests and trials, to include multiple underway periods. The ship is expected to reach its initial operating capability in 2016.
In October this year, Ingalls Shipbuilding delivered the composite deckhouse for the DDG 1000. The 900-ton deckhouse provides an advanced structure to house the ship’s bridge, radars, antennas and intake/exhaust systems and is designed to provide a significantly smaller radar cross-section than any other ship in today’s fleet.
“This is a significant delivery in the history of Ingalls Shipbuilding,” said DDG 1000 Program Manager Steve Sloan. “Building composite ship structures takes a very unique skill-set and work ethic, and the men and women in Gulfport have done an outstanding job. This is one of the largest carbon composite structures ever built, and we are delivering a fine product with the utmost quality.”
Ingalls is building the composite deckhouse and hangar for the DDG 1000 class at the company’s Composite Center of Excellence in Gulfport. Made almost exclusively using cored composite construction processes, the deckhouse and hangar take full advantage of the properties of carbon fiber materials and balsa wood cores. When cured, the composite structure is as strong as steel but requires little maintenance and is very lightweight. These unique attributes reduce maintenance cost over the life span of the ship due to its corrosion resistance in the marine environment and allow for improved hull stability, more payload and increased ship speeds.