The Navy's New $4.4 Billion Ship Is A Big, Shiny Waste Of Money

The futuristic design, 20 years in the making, is finally being put to the test.

The Navy's largest and costliest destroyer was sent out to sea Monday for final trials before its delivery to the military.

The future USS Zumwalt features an angled hull that looks like a hybrid of something out of Soviet Russia and a James Bond movie.

Staff from Bath Iron Works, the Maine shipyard that built the destroyer, and Navy crew members will be on board during the trials for testing and to help prepare the ship for delivery.

Once this round of trials is complete, the Navy will begin its own testing, determining the ship's capabilities in different sea conditions, including extremely rough waters.

"We go to find the most miserable places in the ocean and drive at various sea stages," Rear Adm. Peter Fanta, director of surface warfare, told The Associated Press.

However fancy it may look, the USS Zumwalt's development has been anything but smooth. The 600-foot ship will cost at least $4.4 billion, according to AP -- more than twice the cost of the Navy's current Arleigh Burke class of guided missile destroyers.

When the ship was originally proposed in the early 1990s, the Navy ordered 32 of the destroyers. As costs soared, commanders hacked the order down to three. At one point, they tried to kill the program entirely.

Now, the Navy is starting development of an entirely new destroyer -- slated for completion in the 2030s -- and is building updated Arleigh Burke destroyers in the meantime.

The Zumwalt's design is a far cry from destroyers past. Its sloped "tumblehome" hull supposedly makes it harder for radar to detect, it needs a smaller crew for operation, the deck can accommodate more aircraft, and it features two massive guns with incredible attack power and accuracy.

Some current and former Navy officials have called into question the seaworthiness of the ship, claiming the new hull shape leaves it vulnerable to rolling over in certain conditions. Defense experts have said it's vulnerable to submarine attacks and will be of little use for current naval needs.

The USS Zumwalt makes its way down the Kennebec River as it heads out to sea for final builder trials.
The USS Zumwalt makes its way down the Kennebec River as it heads out to sea for final builder trials.

Now that one of the ships is complete, trials and an inspection by the Navy are all that remain before the USS Zumwalt's commissioning.

If all goes well, the USS Zumwalt will be commissioned in October, reports USNI News. It will be stationed in San Diego.

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