Seagulls overhead. Waves and water underfoot. After years spent fine-tuning systems in a lab, a team of Raytheon experts is getting its sea legs as it installs advanced technologies onboard the U.S. Navy’s stealthy future USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) destroyer.
At the Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine, the first of three Zumwalt-class ships sits majestically in the Kennebec River. Aboard, teams of master shipbuilders work alongside Raytheon’s Shipboard Test Team to bring it to life.
“This team is focused, without a doubt, to meet every milestone,” said Pat O’Kane, Raytheon’s DDG 1000 integration and test director. “The right team is key to the success of any program, and this group raises the bar.”
The Navy christened the futuristic ship on April 12 during a ceremony at the shipyard.
For these Raytheon engineers, the pier is their workplace. They’ve traded the warmth of a laboratory for frosty Maine temperatures and the noise of a bustling shipyard. This seasoned team – ranging in age from 20 to 60 and boasting hundreds of years of combined integration experience – feels a great sense of pride to play a role in the completion of this revolutionary ship, O’Kane said.
The destroyer carries equipment that will benefit the Navy for years to come.
“DDG 1000 is a vessel that fits within our Defense Strategic Guidance. With its stealth, incredibly capable sonar system, strike capability, and lower manning requirements – this is our future,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert said during a shipyard ceremony to mark the start of fabrication on the third Zumwalt ship.
The Shipboard Test Team is in lockstep with the DDG 1000’s shipbuilders. Often the team is installing equipment right alongside the shipyard’s welders and pipefitters.
“A true collaboration, government and industry, we’re all on the same team with a single focus – delivering an exceptional ship to the Navy,” O’Kane said.
The integration team most recently started activation of the Total Ship Computing Environment Infrastructure — Raytheon’s single, secure network that controls everything onboard.
Combined with work previously completed, in the coming months the ship will have stem to stern network connectivity. Completion of these milestones will allow the shipbuilder to begin uninterrupted testing of the ship’s Hull, Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E) systems.
There is little time for the team to rest and admire its successes. They move from task to task with one goal in mind: preparing the destroyer for its maiden voyage early next year for propulsion trials.
On its first trek outside the shipyard’s harbor, the DDG 1000 will face a series of tests to ensure the functionality of the HM&E and other critical systems.
For a “first-in-class” ship – starting from a clean sheet of paper – DDG 1000 is a remarkable ship. The innovations onboard are numerous. From its shape, power and stealth to its combat capabilities, the advanced technologies make it a truly futuristic destroyer.
“If Batman had a ship, it would look like the Zumwalt destroyer,” Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., said at the February 2014 AFCEA West conference. “It is at the very cutting edge of technology, including advanced hybrid-drive propulsions systems and enormous firepower.”
Press Release, April 17, 2014; Image: Raytheon