The $4 billion warship, built by Bath Iron Works in Maine, was launched on the Kennebec River Monday, five years after construction began.
At 610 feet long, the Zumwalt looks unlike any ship the navy has sailed, with an angular superstructure, a low-slung "tumblehome" hull to "pierce" waves for a smoother ride, electric propulsion and futuristic bridge that looks more like it belongs on Star Trek's USS Enterprise than a real Navy ship.
“It’s a big build,” said electrician Chris Brewer, who has worked on the ship for 15 months. “It’s very complex. It’s been a big learning curve, and a huge change for everybody. We’ve had good days and bad days, but for the most part, they’re good days.”
The Zumwalt, hull number DDG-1000, was meant to be the first of a class to replace the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Rising construction costs caused caused the Pentagon to tack, limiting the program to just three Zumwalts. They are 100 feet longer than their predecessor, but require half the crew.
The Zumwalt's 130 sailors will also enjoy improved on-board amenities, with fewer sailors per quarters, high-end food preparation and satellite laptops.
"It's a huge jump in technology for Navy warships," Cmdr. David Hart said. "BIW has excelled at challenges. We're looking forward to getting it."
BIW will deliver the USS Zumwalt in fall of 2015. DDG-1001, the USS Michael Monsoor, is scheduled for 2016 delivery, and the DDG-1002, USS Lyndon B. Johnson, is expected in 2018.