Monday, October 08, 2018

Zumwalt: the Stillborn Transformation

At last, an article about the DDG-1000 I've been waiting for.

In the latest edition of Proceedings, LT Joe Lillie, USN put together a well done summary of what this unusual byproduct of the Age of Transformationalism is like from the bridge.

For those critical of the ship from the start, there are a few "of course" items out there, and a few other items that are more, "Hey, that's nice. It has some good aspects."

Let's put aside her utility at war, but what it will be like to operated on a daily basis at sea. She is a unique ship with unique handling requirements.

Here are a few of the highlights, or lowlights, depending on your POV.
extremely large seas taken on the bow could submerge the forecastle, resulting in damage to equipment or the bow. Also, the ship’s righting arm is several times larger than an Arleigh Burke ’s. Generally this results in exceptional stability with minimal ( (less than) 5 degrees) pitch and roll. However, if the ship were taking extremely large seas on the stern quarter or beam, with rolls greater than 15 degrees, the large righting arm would force the ship back to centerline much faster than on other ships—causing significant G-forces that could damage equipment or injure personnel.
Given the small crew and events in WESTPAC in 2017, this especially caught my eye.
The radar cross-section is significantly less than that of an Arleigh Burke. Merchant ships, which frequently use a small bridge watch team and rely on radar alarms to alert them to approaching vessels, are especially susceptible to dismissing the Zumwalt’s radar return. This means bridge watchstanders must be trained differently. They still adhere to the various rules of the road governing ship interactions, but they must assume that other vessels may not give way or act in accordance with their expectations.
Other points worth consideration;
The combination of the Zumwalt ’s size and inability to switch quickly from ahead to astern propulsion or vice versa (because of fixed pitch propellers) creates substantially more inertia than on a smaller vessel, a characteristic magnified by the large sail area.
...The outward-sloping tumblehome design creates the illusion that the ship is farther away from the pier than it is.
...All the mooring stations are internal. (it) makes it impossible for the bridge to see progress in the mooring stations.
...A relatively low height of eye of 35 feet, along with large gun mounts on the forecastle, result in a substantial shadow zone of 469.2 feet dead ahead.
Before we end things up, let's talk about the pic above as it give me a chance to tilt again towards one of my favorite windmills - the lies we tell each other and the distortions to our professionalism we take with a shrug.

When we do it in some places as benign as shipnaming, that attitude can bleed over to other things of more importance. 

Yes, small things matter.

As we've reminded everyone for over a decade, the ZUMWALT Class is the size of a WWII German Pocket Battleship. She is no more a destroyer than I am an Army Colonel. 

I know the author made a nice send-off of the ZUMWALT being a good addition to the line of, "Greyhounds of the Sea" - but I'm sorry; she's a light cruiser. She's no destroyer.

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