Perhaps it’s poetic justice that the warship named after the man many accuse of ruining the US Navy has broken down on its first long range cruise. The USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) has essentially become the world’s most technologically advanced and expensive buoy while transiting the Panama Canal.
As reported by Yahoo News, freshly commissioned in Baltimore, Md, the Zumwalt was en route to her new home port in San Diego, CA. It was while transiting the Panama Canal that the warship’s black gang reported “water intrusion in bearings that connect electrical motors to drive shafts.” In layman’s terms, “Uh, Chief… I think we’re sinking.”
The most expensive destroyer ever built for the Navy suffered an engineering problem in the Panama Canal and had to be towed to port.
U.S. Third Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry said a vice admiral directed the USS Zumwalt to remain at ex-Naval Station Rodman in Panama to address the issues, which arose on Monday. The ship was built at Bath Iron Works in Maine and is on its way to San Diego.
“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 home port in San Diego,” Perry said in a statement.
USNI News, a publication of the U.S. Naval Institute, reported on its website that the ship was in the canal when it lost propulsion.
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Dubbed as the world’s foremost “stealth ship,” the vessel was built with an angular shape to minimize its radar signature, showing up on the enemy’s screen as a mere fishing boat.
However, it’s widely understood by naval experts that the stealthy radar signature would be greatly diminished when the warship’s sole means of propulsion is when attached by heavy gauge cables to an ocean-going fleet tug.
Roughly as large as a World War I battleship, the Zumwalt also has the distinction of being the most expensive destroyer ever constructed – a whopping $4.4 billion.
In regards to the ship’s namesake, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt took heat from more than a few Old Salts for his liberalization of many Navy standards during the early-to-mid 1970s when he took the helm as the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO).
Under his watch, the Navy’s weight and grooming standards were so severely loosened that he was held responsible for the oft-hurled accusation of “beards and guts” as the norm for many sailors.
According to his detractors, it was the CNO who set the table for the lessening of the stress level and high physical standards demanded at the Navy’s Recruit Training Centers in San Diego, CA; Orlando, FL; and Great Lakes, MI.