US Navy’s most expensive Zumwalt-class destroyer USS Michael Monsoor starts sea trials

The USS Michael Monsoor, the second Zumwalt-class destroyer made for the US Navy, has started sea trials in the Gulf of Maine. The ship, made by Bath Iron Works (BIW), is the Navy’s most expensive destroyer.

According to BIW, the vessel, “is currently on Builders Trials, testing the hull, mechanical and engineering components of the ship”. The company has also said that all of these components have been tested at the piers, but the best way to actually test a ship this size is in the open water, Sputnik news reported.

US Navy’s first Zumwalt class infamously broke down in the Panama Canal last year owing to mechanical issues. The vessel even reportedly hit the canal walls, causing a bit of exterior damage as well, it was reported.

Zumwalt-class destroyers are known as the Navy’s most expensive vessels, with each of them coming in at over $4.4 bn (£3.3bn). They are also known as the Navy’s most sophisticated and technologically advanced destroyers as of now. They are also the largest and most powerful destroyers to be built for the US Navy. Apart from its many stealth capabilities, it is reported to be an all-electric ship as well.

While the Sputnik report points out that not much is known about the Michael Monsoor, there are a few details provided about Zumwalt destroyers that make them quite fearful to its adversaries. The hull – the bottom part of the ship that meets the water – is not of a standard shape. Called a tumblehome hull, it slopes inward to a point, resembling a stretched out, inverted pyramid.

For a destroyer of this size, it dramatically reduces its radar cross section. The 610-foot-long, 15,000-tonne vessel, when viewed on an enemy radar system, will look more like a 50- foot fishing boat notes the report. This low visibility stance of the Zumwalt is one of the reasons why the Navy is pushing its development in spite of being plagued by a host of issues right through its development.

After initially ordering 32 vessels, the Pentagon has cut this order down to just 3. The Michael Monsoor will be the second Zumwalt to be made. It is not clear when this vessel will be delivered to the Navy and when it will be deployed.

The vessel gets its name “USS Michael Monsoor” from Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, who lost his life in Iraq in 2006. He reportedly fell on a grenade and covered it, containing the explosion within himself. Monsoor lost his life but saved his fellow SEALs for which he was posthumously awarded a medal of honour from then-president George W. Bush.