Yesterday, the Pentagon announced that Raytheon had been awarded a 1.7B USD contract to service the three Zumwalt-Class Destroyers, also known as the flagship of the class DDG-1000. These ships were the only 3 of the original 32 planned Zumwalt class to be built.
From the Pentagon: “Raytheon Co., Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, is awarded a $482,714,279 cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-only, and firm-fixed-price contract for DDG 1000 Class Combat System activation, sustainment and modernization support for Mission Systems and Total Ship Computing Environment Infrastructure (TSCEi) hardware/equipment, in addition to non-recurring engineering services supporting combat system installation, integration, development, testing, correction, maintenance, and modernization of Zumwalt-class Mission Systems and Mission System equipment. This contract includes options, which if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $1,675,745,280. Work will be performed in Tewksbury, Massachusetts (37%); Portsmouth, Rhode Island (37%); San Diego, California (22%); Nashua, New Hampshire (2%); Pascagoula, Mississippi (1%); and Fort Wayne, Indiana (1%), and is expected to be completed by April 2023.”
The Zumwalt Program has been rife with overspending, an initial estimate of 3B USD per hull has inflated to 8B USD, which is why the 32 planned hulls were restricted to 3, canceling 29 of them. An April 2018 GAO report said the total cost of the three Zumwalt destroyers, including research and development, was $24.5 billion — almost as much as the cost per hull for the new Columbia Class Submarines.
The unique design has also been a matter of controversy. In April 2007, naval architect Ken Brower said, “As a ship pitches and heaves at sea, if you have tumblehome instead of a flare, you have no righting energy to make the ship come back up. On the DDG 1000, with the waves coming at you from behind when a ship pitches down, it can lose transverse stability as the stern comes out of the water – and basically, roll over.” However, the USS Zumwalt has proved stable in up to sea state 6 conditions.
The armament has also been the source of probably the largest cost run-ups for the entire program. The original DD-21 (land attack destroyer) design would have accommodated between 117 and 128 Vertical launching system cells. However, the final DDG-1000 design provides only 80 cells. Also, the failure to streamline the design of the Advanced Gun System made for much heartache in naval planning circles. Limitations in ammunition storage could only allow for 90 rounds of the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). LRLAP featured separate projectile and propellant portions and was to be highly precise, with a circular error probable (CEP) of 50 m (160 ft) or less. However, as of 2016, the LRLAP ammunition and the AGS have been discontinued and are planned for removal in exchange for VLS that can accommodate hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic missiles.
No matter the controversy, it seems that these three destroyers will be integrated into future fleet operations as the Third Flight of Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers takes the mantle of Surface Combatant’s responsibility. Especially since the Navy’s recent announcement that they hope Congress allow them to move forward with the plan to decommission 10 cruisers in two years, bringing the cruiser inventory down from 22 ships to 12 by the end of the Fiscal Year 2023.