US Navy's stealth destroyer is now closer to its first deployment
The U.S. Navy's newest warship, the USS Zumwalt, recently made a brief port call at Guam in the western Pacific. This raised questions if the U.S. Navy was already deploying the missile destroyer in its operations, The Drive reported. The Navy may have brushed off the deployment claim but has hinted that the warship is closer to action than ever.
What makes the USS Zumwalt special?
According to the U.S. Navy's magazine, All Hands, USS Zumwalt is the world's biggest and most technologically advanced surface warship. The first of the new class of multi-mission destroyers, there are a host of things that are unique to this warship.
The Integrated Power System (IPS) on the ship provides power for propulsion as well as for combat systems from the same gas turbine. In addition to energy savings, this will be useful when deploying high-energy weapons in the future.
The tumblehome onboard the ship may give it a Dalek-like appearance but reduces the ship's cross-section, making it harder to detect while its multi-function radar (MFR) can conduct over-land air surveillance even through a cluttered sea-land interface.
The firepower on the USS Zumwalt has been tripled with a battery of two advanced gun systems that can fire Long-Range Land Attack Projectiles (LRLAP) to a target within 63 nautical miles (116 km).
USS Zumwalt was launched in 2013 and had been undergoing trials and equipment installation and tests as per official statements. So, a port call at Guam piqued the interest of many following the ship's progress.
What did the Navy say?
In the press release made public soon after USS Zumwalt departed Guam, the U.S. Navy confirmed that this was the farthest the warship had traveled from its home port of Naval Base San Diego since its commissioning.
The port call allowed the sailors to decompress from the demanding life at sea and visit local establishments such as gyms, restaurants, and beaches as part of Naval Base Guam's Morale, Welfare, Recreation (MWR) program.
Assigned to Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed squadron, the stealth warship would continue its operations in the open Indo-Pacific region, the press release said.
On inquiry by The Drive, the U.S. Navy official noted that while it was not using the term "deployment", the warship was being assigned tasks as ships operating in the region would be, which was part of the fleet integration process.
USS Zumwalt is assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet, has been operating in the Indo-Pacific region for over 70 years, and is the largest forward-deployed fleet in the world. USS Zumwalt's current employment aims to understand how it can operate with other ships in the fleet and learn about its maintenance and sustainability.
Amidst the rising geopolitical tensions in the world, this is some more reassuring news for the U.S. military. The U.S. Air Force's project for a stealth bomber appears to be on schedule, and the B-21 Raider will be unveiled in December.