Largest-Ever Destroyer Just Joined US Navy, and It Could Fire Railguns

It has enough energy to power a small town and operate at the same time.

10. 17. 16 by Dieter Holger
U.S. Navy
Image by U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy’s largest destroyer ever built, the USS Zumwalt, carried out trial operations last year — and now the high-tech warship has officially entered the fleet. The ship is the most advanced in its class, and the name of its captain, James A. Kirk, makes the futuristic cruiser sound like something out of “Star Trek.”

“Today’s ceremony marked the culmination of over three years of dedication and hard work by some of the finest sailors I have had the pleasure to lead,” said Kirk, according to the U.S. Navy.

It took almost five years and over $3.5 billion to build the USS Zumwalt. The destroyer sports an all-electric propulsion system, a stealthy “tumblehome” design, a vertical missile launcher, and an advanced computerized system.

And it packs 78 MW of power — nearly as much electricity as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier — thanks to two 45.4-MW Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines driving Curtiss-Wright electric generators and two 3.8-MW Rolls-Royce RR4500 turbine generators.

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That’s enough energy to run the ship and power a small town at the same time, according to the U.S. Navy. This massive front of electricity could also fire the Navy’s next-gen beam weapons and railguns. We could one day see Zumwalt-class warships equipped with kinetically-charged railguns capable of launching projectiles as far as 201 km (125 miles) at Mach 6 speeds.

Image Credit: U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan Laird

The destroyer’s large size can also support its missile launcher and aircraft simultaneously.

“The Zumwalt-class is much larger than today’s destroyers with a considerably larger flight deck – enough space to operate host Joint Strike Fighters, MV-22 Ospreys, and unmanned systems and a Vertical Launch System second to none,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, according to the U.S. Navy.

The USS Zumwalt will make its way to San Diego, where it will install its combat systems and receive final testing before engaging in fleet operations.

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Watch the destroyer cruise along in Bath, Maine below.

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