HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you were looking at it from a distance, one could be forgiven for mistaking the latest visitor to Pearl Harbor for a spaceship from the Star Wars universe.
It’s a reasonable comparison for someone seeing the Navy’s futuristic USS Zumwalt for the first time — the $4.2 billion ship’s sleek grey exterior looks unlike anything else that’s currently stationed at Pearl Harbor.
“The advances in technology are significant, but they’re also exquisite and they’re costly and they require a lot of refinement,” said Capt. Andrew Carlson, the ship’s commanding officer.
The guided-missile destroyer won’t be in Hawaii for very long. Navy officials say it’s a scheduled visit, the first time it’s been to islands, and crew members will participate in training exercises as well as community engagement events.
“The training ranges only found in the Hawaiian operating area allow Zumwalt to conduct important at-sea evolutions that enhance our crew’s warfighting skills,” said Carlson. “The world-class facilities found in Hawaii, coupled with its strategic location in the Pacific, make this port visit an important part of our success.”
Impressive as the warship might look, the development of the USS Zumwalt and other Zumwalt-class destroyers hasn’t been perfect.
After initially planning on building 32 of them, the Navy halted the Zumwalt program after completing just three of them. Issues supplying ammunition to the largest of the vessel’s guns are well documented — the price tag for each round is as high as $800,000.
“Anytime we do small numbers, there’s challenges in logistics support and part inventory and things like that because you have to work side by side, Navy and industry, to determine what’s the right cost-effective solution for the things we need to keep 3 ships operating,” said Carlson.
Still, features like its remarkable radar profile could make it invaluable when it comes to surface warfare. The 650-foot ship’s radar signature can be as small as that of a 50-foot fishing vessel.