News Branch Navy

The Navy’s new $7.8 billion stealth destroyer is now delayed for a sixth year, surprising no one

The USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) will "the largest and most technologically advanced surface combatant in the world," according to the Navy — if it ever ends up seeing action
Jared Keller Avatar

The USS Zumwalt will “the largest and most technologically advanced surface combatant in the world,” according to the Navy — if it ever ends up seeing action.

The first of of the Navy’s trio of new Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) stealth destroyers won’t hit full combat capability until April 2020, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, six years after the controversial $7.8 billion warship’s original expected delivery date of July 2014 and more than a decade after full-rate production first began.

“While combat system testing has made significant progress, Zumwalt continues to work through first-in-class integration and shipboard test challenges,” Navy spokeswoman Coleen O’Rourke confirmed to Bloomberg.

The fresh delay comes as lawmakers consider the Navy’s request for additional $163.3 million to complete three Zumwalt-class vessels as part of the service’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposal, according to a September 2019 Congressional Research Service report on the program, up 1.3 percent from the additional $150.2 million the service requested in its fiscal 2019 request.

In the six years since construction on the Zumwalt began, the Navy has requested an additional $1.5 billion to complete the three hulls, according to the CRS report, growing the overall cost of the program by 47 percent over the Navy’s original fiscal 2009 budget submission.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) arrives at its new homeport in San Diego on Dec. 8, 2016

(U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 3rd Class Emiline L. M. Senn)

This is deeply unsurprising. While Bloomberg observes that the Zumwalt’s sixth delay “may increase doubts the Navy can build, outfit and deliver vessels on time and within cost targets” amid the service’s push for 355-ship fleet by 2034, let’s be honest: a day late and a dollar short is the Navy’s M.O. when it comes to cranking out “advanced” new warships.

Look no further than the Littoral Combat Ship, the ostensible backbone of the Navy’s 355-hull future fleet that, with a sunk cost of $30 billion over the last two decades for just 35 insanely buggy vessels, gained a reputation as a “Little Crappy Ship” that the Navy would rather not even deploy despite rising tensions in littoral environments like the Persian Gulf.

And this is to say nothing of the Navy’s $13 billion USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, the first of the Navy’ next-generation “supercarrier” platforms that remains plagued by unforeseen problems with critical systems like the ship’ nuclear power plant and he weapons elevators, as USNI News reported back in March 2019.

The Zumwalt is supposed to be the tip of the spear for the Navy’s push to unfettered dominance of the world’s ocean’s, but it’s instead been a lightning rod for cost overruns and controversy for more than a decade. Not that it matters, though: if the LCS andFord carrier are any indication, the lawmakers will likely make the Navy stock up on extra Zumwalt-class floating garbage piles anyway.