Specialists of the naval Institute of the United States proposed to use the new destroyers of the Zumwalt class as command ships. In the future, they offered to replace performing this role obsolete amphibious ships Blue Ridge class. Originally the Zumwalt destroyers had become an important part of the American fleet, however, due to the high cost of the project was substantially reduced from 32 to three ships. Experts note that the U.S. Navy is trying to find a new use for the Zumwalt class ships.

  • Destroyer of the Zumwalt class
  • AFP
  • © US Navy

Experts naval Institute U.S. (USNI) found the use of the squadron destroyers Zumwalt class — in the future, I propose to use as command ships.

Initially, the Zumwalt was supposed to be the destroyers of new generation and to fulfill the tasks ranging from the support of ground operations missile strikes to hunt for ships and submarines of the enemy and destruction of his aircraft.

Unusual case design with use of composite materials was to provide a high performance radar stealth. In addition, the ships of the Zumwalt was supposed to have a high firepower — the US defense Department is expected that the destroyer will become a platform for weaponry of the new generation. In particular, according to some, it was planned to place the railgun (electromagnetic gun).


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But because of the constantly increasing cost of the ship by the time of the launch of the first Zumwalt in the Pentagon came to the conclusion about the impossibility to implement the project in the form in which it was originally intended. Therefore, the Navy specialists are trying to find the destroyer another use — perhaps as a command ship.

To date, the role of command ships in the U.S. Navy carry out amphibious class ships Blue Ridge, adopted in the early 1970-ies. Experts USNI noted that Blue Ridge was designed as a command flagship, but for 50 years, the nature of the naval actions have changed and they can no longer adequately play the role of command ships in potential operations against a high tech enemy. It is therefore proposed that the first step is to put the Zumwalt class ships in conjunction with existing staff, the courts, and in the future — to replace the Blue Ridge in this role.

“The Ship (Zumwalt. — RT) was designed taking into account the capacity, the possibility of using different modules and further modernization, therefore, when optimal staffing when the crew size is less than 200 people, is the location for the additional number of sailors and equipment, which gives additional opportunities for planning fleet maintenance and operations, as the ship may strike at surface targets and to act as a leader”, — says the publication USNI.

Dear Zumwalt

Lead ship, the destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000), was twice forced to undergo official acceptance. The ship was laid down in 2011, in 2013 it launched. In 2016 DDG-1000 was commissioned, but after the beginning of a new phase of testing revealed many serious technical problems. In the end, after years of testing the USS Zumwalt was officially adopted by the U.S. Navy in San Diego April 24, 2020.

The second ship of the class Zumwalt, founded in 2013, the USS Michael Monsoor, is now also in San Diego, where the activation of combat systems. The third destroyer Lyndon B. Johnson building on the General Dynamics shipyards in Maine.

  • Destroyer of the Zumwalt class
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  • © Mark Wilson / Getty Images

A modest number of serial ships of this project due to a drastic revision of the plan of their production. When the project was approved in the early 1990-ies, the Pentagon is expected to receive 32 of the Zumwalt class ship. But then the order was reduced to 24 units, and in the mid-2000s, the U.S. Department of defense has reduced the production plan up to seven units. In 2010, after another reduction of the Zumwalt program was truncated to three ships.


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This was done mainly due to the extremely high cost of the project. According to the USNI, the cost of building one vehicle increased from $1.4 billion to $4 billion as of the 2017 financial year the cost of three destroyers was estimated at $to 12.73 billion (2009 — $8.9 billion), while total investment in the Zumwalt program was $22.5 billion.

The controversial nature of the project and recognize the authors USNI.

“Complicated history of the development of ships such as Zumwalt and their integration into the fleet of the US was covered very extensively. Initially, in the 1990s it was planned to build 32 ships for the implementation of naval surface fire support, however, since the number of ships of this type was reduced to three, and their advanced artillery was decommissioned due to the extremely high cost of ammunition,” — experts say.

However, according to military analyst Dmitry Litovkin, one or two ships of this class are not able to solve required tasks.

“This project failed because these ships at the time, failed to show the desired result. Accordingly, the funds redirected to other projects. The US has a lot of money, so they can easily to spend on any of your whims and, consequently, to convert this project in command ships”, — said the expert in conversation with RT.

Without task and weapons


Problems with the implementation of the draft class destroyers Zumwalt began almost immediately. First, due to the extremely high cost of many materials had to abandon the composite superstructure of the ships they had made of ordinary ship steel.

After that, the ships failed to install advanced weaponry. So, contradictory results were demonstrated by a project 155-mm artillery installation of the Advanced Gun System (AGS). For firing the cannon on shore targets were created special controlled artillery projectile LRLAP (Long Range Land Attack Projectiles), however, the Pentagon is scared of the high cost of ammunition (about $800 thousand) and a performance range that was not prescribed in the specifications.

  • Destroyer of the Zumwalt class
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  • © Mark Wilson / Getty Images

In the end, the US Department of defense refused to buy LRLAP, and in November of 2018, the command of the us Navy has changed the concept of combat use of ships in the Zumwalt — the newest destroyer was forbidden to operate in the coastal zone, supporting the advancing ground forces.

According to military expert Yuri Knutova, this project failed, because the technological level did not allow to solve all design problems on the level at which they were laid down at the design stage.

“Trying to come up with something which no country in the world not invented for the space money is a massive trend of the American military-industrial complex. The military-industrial complex in the United States are represented by private companies and it does not matter, good or bad ship — they are just interested in orders. The more expensive the project, the more it can earn,” he explained RT.

Necessary to replace

However, Zumwalt, despite the limited serial number and reduced combat capabilities, may still be useful to the U.S. Navy, USNI experts believe. The ships of this class should assume a command role instead of the legacy amphibious ships Blue Ridge class, experts say.

“Not counting the sailing frigate USS Constitution class command ships of the landing force — the oldest in the U.S. Navy, but it was included in the program of extending the operation to 2039. Thus, at the time of decommissioning it will be almost 70 years old. Even with the guarantee of maintenance, repair and modernization (despite the constant problems with the maintenance of the fleet) it is unlikely that even one of the ships in this class is ready for short and prolonged fighting in the middle of 2030-ies”, — noted in the USNI.

  • The command ship Blue Ridge-class
  • Reuters
  • © Romeo Ranoco

Yuri Whips believes that the proposal of the Institute of United States Navy destroyers to turn into command centers due to the fact that the Pentagon is trying to find the ships of the Zumwalt any application.

“This is more or less justified, because, generally, the flagship is always covered by other military courts. Accordingly, it is well protected, and thus all its disadvantages will be compensated by means of air defense, missile and torpedo defense”, — the expert believes.

This project was ahead of other modern destroyers from the point of view of the number of cruise missiles on Board, power weapons and stealth, however, with any of these tasks, he can not cope, said of the Whips.

“Due to the fact that everything breaks down and is constantly out of order, it is dangerous to release into the sea to conduct any military operations. After all, if someone will sink a Zumwalt, it would be a scandal, because this ship is worth more than an aircraft carrier. It will be a huge blow to the prestige of the United States. So they try to find him an application that he was not involved in the fighting, but at the same time, it would be possible to show that he needed the Navy. In fact, this new combat ship was worse than any now existing,” — concluded the expert.