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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