Navy's new $4.4B Zumwalt destroyer breaks down in Panama Canal

By Allen Cone   |   Nov. 24, 2016 at 10:39 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy's new destroyer -- the USS Zumwalt -- has been sidelined in the Panama Canal after engineering problems.

"The timeline for repairs is being determined now," US Navy Cmdr. Ryan Perry said in a statement to CNN.

USS Zumwalt, which cost $4.4 billion to build, was on its way Monday to San Diego by the end of the year where it was to join the U.S. Third Fleet in the Pacific Ocean. It was projected to be fully operational in 2018.

"The schedule for the ship will remain flexible to enable testing and evaluation in order to ensure the ship's safe transit to her new homeport in San Diego," Perry said.

The ship lost propulsion in its port shaft and the crew noticed water intrusion in two of the four bearings that connect to Zumwalt's massive electrical motors, a defense official told U.S. Navy Institute News

A defense official told USNI News on Tuesday the repairs could take up to 10 days.

The commander of the U.S. Third Fleet, Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, directed the ship to remain at the former U.S. Naval Station Rodman in Panama, Perry said.

The ship is the Navy's most technically developed destroyer.

When it was commissioned on Oct. 15 in Baltimore, Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said, "If Batman had a ship, it would be the USS Zumwalt."

Zumwalt suffered an unspecified engineering trouble on Sept. 20 after it arrived at Naval Station Mayport, Fla. Crews discovered a seawater leak in the propulsion motor drive lube oil auxiliary system for one of the ship's shafts.

Zumwalt entered the Panama Canal last week after a successful port visit to Colombia.

According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the total program cost of the new destroyers, consisting of three ships, will be more than $22 billion. Originally, the Navy planned to order more than 20 of the new destroyers but cost overruns and delays caused reductions. The vessels Michael Monsoor and Lyndon B. Johnson are under construction.

On Oct. 29, another new ship, the USS Montgomery littoral combat ship, was damaged while going through the Panama Canal. It was commissioned in September.

"Under control of the local Panama Canal Pilot, the ship impacted the center lock wall and sustained an 18-inch-long crack between her port quarter and transom plates," 3rd Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry said. "The crack is located 8-10 feet above the waterline and poses no water intrusion or stability risk."

It was repaired and then headed to San Diego.

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