Zumwalt Program Moves Smoothly Under Radar

THE FORWARD MIDBODY of the Zumwalt is rolled outl at Bath Iron Works for installation of the forward Advanced Gun System. The ship will be...

THE FORWARD MIDBODY of the Zumwalt is rolled outl at Bath Iron Works for installation of the forward Advanced Gun System. The ship will be more than 60 percent complete when the keel-laying ceremony is held in November. (General Dynamics Bath Iron Works)

Quietly, almost stealthily, the effort to build the most advanced surface ship ever put to sea is steadily moving ahead. All three ships of the U.S. Navy's DDG 1000 Zumwalt class are now under contract, all of the remaining procurement contracts should soon be concluded and, the program manager reports, the work remains on schedule and on budget.

"We're on time, we're on budget. We're within budget," Capt. James Downey declared during an interview earlier this month. "We're hitting the milestones within the program."

Zumwalt, lead ship of the class, is more than half complete, Downey reported, and will be more than 60 percent complete when a ceremonial keel-laying is held Nov. 17 at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.

A construction contract for the second and third ships, the Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) and yet-to-be-named DDG 1002, was awarded to Bath on Sept. 15. Construction of the Monsoor is more than a quarter complete; fabrication of DDG 1002 is set to begin next spring.

The construction contracts with Bath are only part of the program's procurement effort.

"We like to say we have four primes," Downey said, alluding to the usual DoD program effort involving a single prime contractor.

Bath is building the ships. Huntington-Ingalls Industries builds the composite superstructure and certain other parts of the hull. Raytheon is responsible for the combat and electrical systems and many of the sensors. And BAE Systems handles the advanced gun system (AGS) and Mark 57 vertical launch system.

Downey said negotiations with Huntington-Ingalls, Raytheon and BAE for the remaining work on DDGs 1001 and 1002 are going well, but declined to reveal specific cost figures.

"Within about the next four to five months, all the negotiations will be done on all three ships, so you'll see what those numbers are," Downey said. "Except for life-cycle support, all procurement will be done."

Procurement for the Zumwalt was about $3 billion, Downey said. "I'm hesitant on specific numbers for the second and third ships, but they're coming below what the first ship was."

Zumwalt is being built under cost-plus contracts, he noted, but most of the work on the other two ships will be under fixed-price agreements.

Challenges remain, Downey said.

"I'll have to get the ships activated within those budgets," he cautioned. "I have to closely manage that and make sure [the Zumwalt] gets delivered on schedule and on budget. If things don't work, it has the potential to affect the second and third ships."

The Zumwalt's astounding completion level of 60 percent at keel-laying - once one of the earliest moments in a ship's construction - is a byproduct of the modern, modular building methods, Downey said.

"The ship is built in modules," he explained, including ever-larger elements known as ultra units. "When the first ultra unit is complete, that's when keel-laying is."

The forward midbody module, which includes the guns, weighs more than 4,000 tons - larger than a littoral combat ship, Downey said. The modules feature a high degree of outfitting, including smaller details like wiring, pipes, and control consoles to main and auxiliary propulsion engines and missile launchers.

As the ultra units are joined together, the Zumwalt will rapidly take on more of its ultimate shape. The composite deck structure, weighing more than 1,000 tons and now more than 75 percent complete, is expected to be barged from Mississippi to Maine in late spring, and the Zumwalt is scheduled to be launched in July 2013. Initial delivery is set for 2014, with completion of the combat system to follow in 2015.

Although many components come from different manufacturers, assembly and fabrication quality has been smooth, Downey said.

"The missile magazines went into the ship in a matter of hours. [There were] few to zero conflicts putting in that structural magazine," he said. "What we're seeing is that when equipment or modules come in, they're going in very smoothly. We're seeing very low percentages for rework for a first-of-the-class. Unprecedented. Up at Bath Iron Works, it's actually less than 1 percent."

A DDG 1000 power plant at the Navy's Land-Based Test Site in Philadelphia conducted a successful, full-scale power test in May.

"We tested the complete propulsion system in local control," Downey said. "It pretty much passed with flying colors," although some test equipment needed upgrading. "We made no changes to any of our [ship] equipment."

The advanced induction motor (AIM) - heart of the integrated power system - "has performed very well," Downey said. "It met all the requirements at land-based testing. It exceeded the requirements."

Officers and crew of the DDG 1000 have already been reporting for duty, Downey said, with several members spending time this summer underway on British Type 45 destroyers, which also use AIM engines.

"We're learning what to expect out of the system," Downey said. "It's good for them to see a working system out at sea."

Tests of BAE's 155mm advanced gun system and its associated long-range land-attack projectile also have progressed "very well," Downey said. Two successful live-fire tests were held Aug. 30 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., against live targets, which were hit at a range of 45 nautical miles. The round, he said, is hitting targets within "40-ish inches" of where it's aimed, against a requirement of 20-30 meters.

Raytheon also has been shipping electronic modular enclosures (EME) outfitted with the ship's combat and electrical systems from its manufacturing plant in Portsmouth, R.I. The 12-foot-long EMEs contain the ship's electronics and are shipped nearly complete from the plant.

Progress on the Zumwalt's total ship computing environment is also going well, Downey said. Work on the sixth and final set of software needed to deliver the ship, the machinery control system programming, will be refined beginning in January with tests in Philadelphia and final delivery from Raytheon expected in January 2013.

Another software release will follow for the combat system after the ship is launched, Downey added.

"Most of the software work is done, however, many of the risks have yet to be retired because the systems aren't running in full form up in the ship. So we have two to three years yet to go on that work.

"Not to paint just a generally glowing picture, it's a lot of hard work," he said. "But it appears to me that it's right on track."

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