Who better to entrust a high-tech, multi-billion dollar warship to than Capt. James Kirk?
In this case it’s U.S. Navy Capt. James A. Kirk, not Starfleet Capt. James Tiberius Kirk of the United Federation of Planets and StarTrek fame, and the ship is the USS Zumwalt, not the Enterprise.
Defense contractor General Dynamics formally handed over the keys for the first of the service’s newest class of destroyers on Friday at the firm’s Bath Iron Works subsidiary in Maine.
“Zumwalt’s crew has diligently trained for months in preparation of this day and they are ready and excited to take charge of this ship on behalf of the U.S. Navy,” Kirk said in a press release. “These are 143 of our nation’s finest men and women who continue to honor Admiral Zumwalt’s namesake with their dedication to bringing this ship to life.”
The Navy originally wanted to build 32 of the cutting-edge vessels but ballooning costs prompted the service to cut the order to just three ships. The total cost of the three ships is around $22.5 billion, with roughly $10 billion spent on development and $4 billion for each ship.
The other Zumwalt-class ships — the Michael Monsoor and Lyndon B. Johnson — are under construction in Maine. The Monsoor is expected to be christened as soon as next month.
The 610-foot-long warship weighs in at almost 16,000 tons, but its angular shape makes it more difficult to detect on radar, according to General Dynamics. The vessel is powered by turbines similar to those on a Boeing 777 jet.
As for armaments, the Zumwalt comes with guns that can fire projectiles at targets over 60 miles away, along with an assortment of Tomahawk, Sea Sparrow and Standard missiles and anti-submarine rockets.
Now that the Navy has accepted delivery of the destroyer, it will be commissioned in Baltimore in October before going on to San Diego where it will undergo “mission systems activation.” All of the warship’s combat and mission systems will be installed and activated during the roughly yearlong process.
The Zumwalt is not expected to reach initial operational capability, the point at which it can deploy, until fiscal year 2019, according to the latest Pentagon estimates.