Often the aviation crowd continuously reports the glitching on a new aircraft design such as the 787 during its tests flight. There are a myriad of issues in every new design concept during flight testing. Going from the computer to the air is a quantum leap of faith it will all work in flight. Rarely does a perfect flight occur without some notes taken about changes needed for a new airframe airborne.
The DDG-1000, Zumwalt, is no different than a new airplane testing program even like the 777X program which has not flown as of this date. The 777X still remains on the CAD machines in the design shop, awaiting first assembly and first flight. Even though a design freeze is imposed, tweaking on the blueprints continue even after first delivery. The 777X concept is frozen. However, the DDG-1000 is further along than the 777X program.
The destroyer has entered its "flight testing" phase called, "Sea Trials". In Spite of all due diligence administered during its build, no one really knew what the ship will do! It may sink in rough seas as analogous with aircraft crashing during a flight testing phase.
“There were some lessons learned,” he said in a speech at the Surface Navy Association’s national symposium. “There were some things we need to go work on, but nothing that we can't overcome will prevent us from delivering that ship by 25 April of this year. We've got work to do, a lot of coordination, a lot of teamwork to get that done."
Not to worry, Captain James Kirk is at the "Helm" well at least on the operations deck.
After delivery, the Zumwalt will be turned over to Capt. James Kirk and his crew for training and qualification, Gale said. The commissioning of the ship is tentatively scheduled for October in Baltimore, Md.
The ship has its quirks no pun intended. The quirkiness is what Bath Iron Works people are straightening out before the April delivery date. Does it respond well at full speed full rudder angle? Important questions are tested as it tries having its way in heavy seas. The destroyer was tested out on ten foot swells and did well. Now on for the thirty footers, when the Zumwalt puts out to sea during a bad "Nor'easter". The Zumwalt may have to wait before that happens. If you have a multi-billion dollar ship do you really want to risk it in a gale? The answer is simple, yes they need a big storm, because it's better to know if it survives before you build ten more of its type (two more are scheduled).
"We saw eight to 10 foot seas,” he said. "The ship performed extremely well. We ran up full power and full rudder swings, 35 degree of rudder swings in each direction."
System tests are conducted much like the KC-46 tanker had just completed in 2015. The electrical component of the ship, is as massive as in small town electrical grid, but contained in a relatively small room. The ship Becomes dead in the water and a big fat un-defendable target without the "Electrical Power". The conventional thought on this matter, "the generation of power is deep in the ship and combat protected". If some weapon reaches the power plant the ship would probably sink at that point due to massive structural damage. In other words, it’s substantially protected. The real danger is the risk of critical internal system failures as the bigger weakness. Without the systems functioning, it's a battle dead ship. However, it could maintain speed without some systems not operating.
Therefore, systems testing is imperative for successful results and made battle ready.
First "real time" unscheduled rescue operation a success:
"We steamed over there at full plant, got some good data on an unplanned two-hour power ride, and we launched our RIB,” he said. “It was 12 minutes from the launch of the RIB until they got to the vessel, got the person aboard and got back."
The Captain Speaks:
Kirk, who was present for the briefing, said the ship “handled marvelously,” comparing the difference in steering a DDG-1000 and DDG-51 as being similar to driving a smaller sedan versus a larger one.
The DDG-1000 can really fly through water, shoot, and defend like no other ship made during this period in naval history. Even since the Dreadnought revolution of over a hundred years ago, this ship needs to be in the US Navy.