Monday, December 17, 2018

USS Zumwalt, ‘a slab-sided techno-iceberg’ of a ship, has Chicago-area captain

USS Zumwalt

     Everyone can name a cool car: Ferraris and Porsches race into mind, or even the Tesla S, with those sleek door handles flush to the body.
     And cool planes? That’s easy. There’s the B-2 Stealth Bomber, the Harrier Jump Jet and my favorite, the Granville Gee Bee Super Sportster, with its stubby wings and knob of a tail.
     But a cool ship?
     What would that even look like?
     Meet the USS Zumwalt, the Navy’s futuristic $7.5 billion stealth-guided missile destroyer. Commissioned two years ago to general wonderment (one military writer called it “a slab-sided techno-iceberg from the future”) at the end of November it received a new captain, Andrew Carlson, the pride of Romeoville, making this a good moment to introduce you to both, starting with the ship, of course.   
Captain Andrew Carlson

     “She’s an amazing ship to drive,” said Carlson, over the phone from San Diego. “She’s super sleek, likes to go fast and go straight, with the tumblehome bow, cuts through the water very cleanly.”
     “Tumblehome bow” — a new term for you, right? It was for me. Patience. We’ll get there.
     First we have to meet Captain Carlson.
     He was a straight-A student at Romeoville High School, where his father was principal. He was first in a class of 408, a three-team athlete who also sang in “Camelot.” Carlson graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1995. His wife Heidi and four kids now live in San Diego, but he has a younger sister in Hyde Park, and his wife has family in Evanston and Glenview.
     Back to the ship, the first of what will be three “Zumwalt-class” ships. Those two pods on the fore deck are actually 155 mm guns: the housing swings away in action for the guns to fire. It has 80 guided missile pods and has a top speed of 33 knots. The uncluttered design is intended to make it hard to detect by radar. It is said to have the profile of a small fishing boat, though like everything in the Navy, that too is controversial. There is no shortage of experts who say the ship is as easy to spot as a battleship, which leads to the hotly debated “tumblehome hull.”

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  1. 7.5 billion is too much for a single warship. It leads credence to the old story that the world intends to disarm by making weapons so expensive that no country will be able to afford more than a single gun with a single bullet.

    1. Some 60 years ago, we were giving away ships right and left. I was stationed at Tongue Point, Oregon, one of many assigned to ready the LSTs and other smaller craft various navies came to pick up. We welcomed Germans, Koreans, Indonesians and various South and Central Americans with the major concern of our leaders being that the foreigners not be misled by our casual use of "fucking chair, fucking bolt, fucking ship" to believe that sexual intercourse of any kind was going on with these inanimate objects.


  2. That picture looks like two ships? Is that correct or is that one ship, the Zumwalt that you are talking about.
    Thanks for sharing, great story

    1. Really Dave? The ship in the foreground, not the one in the distance. Did you really need somebody to tell you that?

    2. Thanks. I was thinking something else. It's obvious now. Next time I'll stay at a Holiday Inn to be a little smarter.

  3. Unfortunately, that 155 mm gun can't be used because the shells for it cost $800,000 per round.
    Think about it, 800 grand per round!

  4. New weapons technology is horrendously expensive, although the reduction in crew size is significant. In the very long run people can cost as much as hardware.

    There seems to be a problem deciding what the mission of Zumwalt class ships is to be, as the shore support missiles they were designed to fire will no longer be available.

    Interesting that the Navy got around to honoring Admiral Zumwalt, who's efforts to make life easier for enlisted sailors was ridiculed by old salts when he was CNO.

    The super sleek design must make shipboard life confining. In my own, somewhat, limited time at see one could always find a railing to hang over and watch the swirling wake.

    Nice that Neil gives attention to Captain Carlson's leadership style and wishes the ship, her crew and her captain smooth sailing. Or to use the more traditional, if no longer accurate, good wish: "fair winds and following seas."


  5. I've seen pictures of that thing before, but had no idea why it was shaped like that. Thanks for the info.

    That said, I agree with Zonker.

    1. I think it would be well worth the billions if it were to replace, let's say, 6 destroyers, 5 battleships, 4 cruisers, 3 frigates, etc. Then the manpower savings would be truly significant. But I doubt that such is the case.


    2. We don't have any battleships & neither does anyone else. All are now museum ships!

  6. Attribute some of the steep $7.5b price tag for the Zumwalt to design problems and cost overruns that resulted in the Navy ordering just three, rather than the planned 32 that would have let them spread out the upfront costs. The ship in the background, the trimaran USS Independence, looks almost as cool but costs just one tenth the price.

    If you're interested in checking out a state-of-the-art Navy vessel closer to home, I recommend getting a tour of the USS Trayer at Great Lakes Navy base. This indoor 2/3-sized replica of an "Arleigh Burke-class" destroyer hosts a 12-hour "battle stations" training exercise that's the capstone of their basic recruit training course. It's Disney-grade realism with real flames, real water, and even the salty smell of the sea.


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