PCU, Zumwalt: turbine started,first electric-drive surface combatant

Aboard the future USS Zumwalt,  one of the main turbine units was started for the first time on September 23.   The 610-foot-long warship will be the first electric-drive surface combatant built for the U.S. Navy since a line of smaller destroyer escorts in the 1940s.

[November 25][December 21 2013 PCU Zumwalt: formal launch put off to Spring]
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the not-yet-launched Zumwalt-class destroyer he toured here today “represents the cutting edge of our naval capabilities.” The ship, now known as the Pre-Commissioning Unit, or PCU, Zumwalt, will become the USS Zumwalt, named for former Navy Adm. Elmo Zumwalt. Officials said the ship is about a year away from joining the fleet.

[October 21]
USS Zumwalt, the first entirely new ship built  by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, since the original Arleigh Burke was christened more than 20 years ago.The ship is 100 feet longer than the existing class of destroyers.

It features an unusual wave-piercing hull, electric-drive propulsion, advanced sonar and guided missiles and a gun that fires rocket-propelled warheads as far as 100 miles. Unlike warships with towering radar-and-antenna-laden superstructures, the Zumwalt will ride low to the water to minimize its radar signature, making it stealthier than other warships.

The ship was envisioned for shore bombardment, but its size and a power plant that can produce 78 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 78,000 homes — make it a potential platform for futuristic weapons such as the electromagnetic rail gun, which uses a magnetic field and electric current to fire a projectile at seven times the speed of sound.

With so many computers and so much automation, it will need fewer sailors, operating with a crew of 158 — nearly half the complement aboard the current generation of destroyers.

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