Named after the late Admiral Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, the warship sports advanced technology and a stealthy shape designed to minimise its visibility on enemy radar and reduce the size of its crew.
Among the 15,000-tonne destroyer’s cutting-edge features are a composite deckhouse with hidden radar and sensors and an angular shape that officials say will allow it to be confused for a small fishing boat on radars. It also has a wave-piercing hull designed to reduce the ship’s wake.
It’s the first US ship to use electric propulsion and produces enough power to one day support the futuristic electromagnetic rail gun, which will be tested at sea in 2016.
Rail guns fire a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound – enough velocity to cause severe damage. The Navy sees them as replacing or supplementing old-school guns.
In the future, it could also be fitted with even more advanced weaponry. This summer, the US Navy plans to test the viability of a laser weapon device in the Persian Gulf. It will be used to shoot down aerial drones at ultra-low cost – it is thought one shot of laser will cost about $1.