DDG 1000: On Target


Amidst the Navy’s leadership attempt to explain — some would say rationalize — the massive cost increases and delays in several major shipbuilding programs, the Zumwalt (DDG 1000) program appears to be on cost and on schedule. Writing in Navy Times, Christopher P. Cavas observes, “Often overlooked in all the chatter is that, methodically, steadily — and even quietly — major components of the first ship are taking shape all across the country. When ready, the parts will be shipped largely by barge and rail to the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard at Bath, Maine, where, since February, shipbuilders are welding together the steel that make up the ship’s 600-foot-long hull.”

Cavas interviewed DDG 1000 project manager Captain James Syring for his 17 August article, who ticked off progress on 13 major engineering development models critical to the DDG 1000, all but three of which have begun production. The status of these projects are highly significant because the DDG 1000 introduces many new systems to the fleet.

For example, development is complete on the ship’s 155-mm Advanced Gun System (AGS), which will be the largest shipboard gun in the fleet. Each DDG 1000 will have two of these weapons, developed by BAE Systems, which will fire Lockheed Martin’s Long-Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). That “bullet” has a range goal of 83 nautical miles and a rate of fire of ten rounds-per-minute. The 155-mm gun weapon will partially compensate for the Navy’s ignoring the surface fire support requirements. Cavas reported that in July the LRLAP was fired at a White Sands, New Mexico, test range to its threshold range of 63 nautical miles; further “tweaking” of the rocket motor’s chemistry should push the shell ten miles farther, Syring said.

Another innovative feature of the DDG 1000 will be the Peripheral Vertical Launch System (PVLS), now in production at Raytheon, and seven of eight Peripheral VLS modules are being welded together at Bath. The PVLS replaces the Mark 41 VLS systems now found in U.S. missile-armed cruisers and destroyers. The Mark 41 has 25-inch VLS canisters while the PVLS will have 28-inch canisters that could permit the development of larger weapons for the DDG 1000. Reportedly, the PVLS also provides enhanced survivability against a missile hit.

A third innovative feature of the DDG 1000 will be its radar/computer capabilities. The ship will introduce the AN/SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar (MFR) and the AN/SPY-4 Volume Search Radar (VSR), combined with the dual-band radar, the effort led by prime contractor Raytheon. The radars have been installed together since January 2009 at the Wallops Island Engineering Center on the Virginia coast. Cavas quoted Syring saying that the SPY-3, an X-band radar, completed at-sea testing in the spring of 2008 off the California coast aboard the test ship Paul F. Foster (DD 964). The first two SPY-3 arrays for the DDG 1000 are being assembled; “Minor production issues” on the MFR have been worked through, Syring said. “We’ve had no operational issues.” The SPY-4, an S-band radar, developed by Lockheed, is in production, and six arrays — for the Zumwalt and also for the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) — are under contract.

These and other key components of the three DDG 1000-class ships apparently are on cost and on schedule. This is in sharp contrast to the Ford, the littoral combat ship (LCS), and LPD 17 amphibious ship programs.

This situation seems odd considering that a year ago the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead, truncated the DDG 1000 program to three ships. When originally conceived more than a decade ago, the DDG 1000 program — previously known by several other designations, including DD 21 — was envisioned as a class of about 30 ships to complement and then succeed existing major surface combatants. Subsequently, for budgetary and programmatic reasons, the program was reduced to seven ships.

It is difficult to ascertain the rationale for truncating the program. The reason most often given has been “cost overruns” and the inability of the DDG 1000 to perform in the Ballistic Missile Defense(BMD)role. With respect to the latter, the BMD role was not a requirement for the DDG 1000s nor for the Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) class; rather the latter ships, as well as Ticonderoga (CG 47)-class cruisers, are being upgraded to the BMD role. .There are 84 ships of the DDG 51 and CG 47 series available for conversion to the BMD role.

The DDG 1000 is controversial for several reasons — but the three ships now planned will be significant additions to the fleet.

Norman Polmar

  • The Cenobyte

    It’s nice to know that at least one DOD program can meet the huge bloated budget and streched out time frame it was commited too.
    It amazes me how often these things don’t meet this already easy time frames with all the huge funding they get. And it somehow doesn’t suprise me that the one program they get on time on budget is being reduced in size to make room for things that are over budget and missing deadlines.

  • Dave

    Why can’t DDG-1000 do BMD? It has radar, it has missiles. What else do you need?

  • CR

    It’s especially suprising in ligh tof the fact that the DDG1000 seems to be integrating a lot of new technology. Well, kudos to the Contractor, to the Program Managers and Milestone Decision Authorities (MDAs) for a job well done.
    And thanks to DT for reporting a bit of DoD acquisition good news!

  • batbl

    ed hardy
    ed hardy hoody
    ed hardy swim trunks

  • mike j

    But does it have the technology to blow up comment board spammers?

  • Raraavis

    The budget they are now meeting is in excess of 100% over the initial estimate.
    Still they should lock in all of the components and build at least 7 of these ships with no changes. That way the can lock in costs and get some return on all the R&D and pre-production costs.

  • CTR1(SW)

    They were talking about the DDX in the 80’s when I was in the Navy. At this rate MY GRANDSON may actually get assigned to one. And this is ON SCHEDULE acquisition?!

  • Valcan

    While i agree with all the comments (except the spaming douchebag) i have to say im impressed.
    One thing bothers me. Why can the british make a anti air destroyer like the Daring. But the US gets stuck with ships that someone thinks need to be a swiss army knife.
    Seriously how many times have you been stuck in a situation where you need a realy knife but yours isnt there and the only one available is that dipsh*t swiss army knife that makes squirrels laugh.
    Seriously it saddens me that the british (no offense) can build a ship like that. Yet we still seemed to be focused on making ships that do just about everything semi OK but nothing well.
    Some hopw i get the feeling our sailors are on the Naval equivalent of russian infantry. Yes most will die/sink…but youll manage to kill something. Maybe still lose the battle.
    Stealth is for spy aircraft, subs, ninjas, and snipers.
    Not 600 foot ships.
    By the way has anyone asked what the marines would like in a surface support ship.
    Why do i get the idea it would sound like.
    I want it to rain hell all day long.
    Be fast, acurate,be able to take on enemy fire, be dependable, be bada$$(always a requirment).
    Now that im done being a a%%. Seriosuly why cant we just build a ship ment for fire support. Its not like putting 20k troops on a beach just happens. Theres some planing. Just make a damn heavy crusier with lots of room for missiles or large guns that has lots of anti missle systems and good armor.

  • TB

    By the way has anyone asked what the marines would like in a surface support ship?
    The Air Force never asks the Army what we want in an aircraft.

  • stephen russell

    Produce this when R&D says OK.
    Radical DD.
    Now to acess a decomm Perry class FFG or Spruance class DD?
    Love to have a old Sprunace to cruise around HI in/

  • Mike

    Trust me, the DDG program is NOT on time and is NOT on budget. Go back to the Capt and ask to see the Earned Value (EV) data.

  • C-Low

    The DDG-1000 will go the way of SeaWolf. A very capable ship showcasing and (paying the piper for R&D) which in the end will fall on its own made sword and be reborn in a “new” ship that without the massive R&D harness to drag will become a more attainable cost.
    R&D is what is killing US on our new weapons systems. R&D is a fixed large price item that every time the total production run number drops, every unit increases because of the divided R&D cost. R&D should be paid separate as a direct technology driver to be shared throughout the force. Then the per cost unit would be drastically lower making higher numbers possible which in turn again makes cost lower again (factory/skill set retool).

  • Mastro

    So does the 155 mm LRLAP have a range of 63, 73 or 83 miles? If its only 63 now- 24% below performance goals- how is development complete?

  • gsak

    Interesting point, C-Low. As a submariner, I think the Seawolf was a necessary breakdown on the way from LA to Virginia. If you tour a Seawolf, it’s like a “688i++”. Cool features and great ideas, but it still reeks of 1970.

  • Nomen Nescio

    Mastro: most likely the *cannon* is development complete, but it’s extremely-long-range (for 155mm tube artillery) *ammunition* isn’t.
    what i’d like to know is how much extra tube erosion those rocket-boosted projectiles will cause, and what the lifetime of those pieces firing max loads is going to be. that much range doesn’t come for free, it gets bought with vaporized steel and chrome.

  • PolicyWonk

    According to what I have read (and Wikipedia), the DDG1000 is approximately 81% over the original budget,
    A 26 January 2009 memo from John Young, the US DoD’s top acquisition official, stated that the per ship price for the Zumwalt destroyers had reached $5.964 billion, 81 percent over the Navy’s original estimate used in proposing the program. If true, that means that the program has breached the Nunn

  • Max

    Well, I sure hope the DDG-1000 is built better than the Virginia-class cruisers were. Every time we fired the 5-inch guns, the entire ship shook so hard that it was a wonder that something didn’t break.
    In fact, the 5-inch gun itself was constantly breaking down, and as I recall, couldn’t be fired for more than a handful of rounds before something in the gun system itself did break and had to stop firing. Good thing we never had to depend on it for real…

  • Valcan

    You know why are the R&D cost for ships systems put on the finaly price for a class of ship when those systems will usually be used by numerous other warships units? Is it cheaper, just a political fubar what?

  • ELP

    “Target” is a proper word. Sinking this overly expensive dreadnought won’t be too hard.
    We need to remove battleship admirals.

  • Valcan

    “Target” is a proper word. Sinking this overly expensive dreadnought won’t be too hard.
    We need to remove battleship admirals.
    Posted by: ELP at September 4, 2009 05:44 PM
    No lets stop hoping we can make warships like a f22.
    I agree it could be sunk easily it has crap for defenses.
    If you want a battleship build a battleship not a stealth crusier.
    Stealth for warships is a great idea. Unfortunatly its just not there yet and way way way to expensive.
    Instead of stealth we should be focusing on ECM, New armor technologies, and air missile defense systems.

  • elgatoso

    roland ,I wish at least one Admiral could pick up your idea, I think is a problem of cost.

  • Max

    Hear, hear, Vulcan!! Agree 100%

  • ReconTeam

    Look, the ship may cost way more than it should, but it is not going to be “sunk easily.” The DDG-1000 is supposed to have ESSM, Block III SM-2MR, Block IV SM-2ER, and eventually SM-6 capability for defense against missiles and aircraft. Yet it seems it doesn’t have the all the systems needed for the BMD mission, which uses the SM-3. The planned CG-X will have full BMD capabilities, and the DDG-51 class ships that have it now will stay in service for a long time yet.
    The Mk.110 57mm guns also have a multipurpose capability. Plus the stealthy design means a missile is more likely to be fooled by countermeasures.

  • FormerDirtDart

    My understanding is that the primary reason the Zumwalt (DDG 1000) will not be able to perform the BMD mission is power supply. The ship power system can not produce enough to run the shipboard systems, and the planned Theater Ballistic Missle Defense (TBMD) radar. This is also the reason the CG(X) will not share the same hull design as the Zumwalt, as originally planned.
    What I have seen is that the Navy is planning on a similar hull for ther CG(X), just longer and wider. They are also trying to figure out how to wedge in a nuclear reactor with enough power to operate all systems. It seems that while reactors currently used for subs would fit, they don’t surpass the power generated by the Zumwalts conventional power supply. And the possibility of using half of an Aircraft Carrier double reactor system is still to large for a Zumwalt sized hull.

  • Valcan

    Recon i wasnt talking about 2 or 3 missiles or aircraft but of 20 or 30.
    Its already been shown that even our carrier task forces are at risk from multiple fast missile boats like the chinese and well most likely enemy countries favor.
    My problem is this the navy wants a 320 or so ship navy. So it wants to create a ship that con do multiple job ok but not well. This leads to the current DDX which is just to expensive.
    Im not saying i hate the whole DDX program many of the propulsion systems, hull design etc. are fantastic.
    But in my opinion there trying to do to much, with to many new systems ideas before its ready.
    I think the navy just needs to try to consentrate on making a good sold frigate class vessel for asw missions. And light patrol duties.
    A air defense destroyer much like the new daring class of the brits. But cheaper. Though we will doubtless aquire more of them so they should be cheaper. As well as having done a large amount of the work in the DDX and in present ships.
    It should be able to ingage track and destroy numerous (not 3 or 5) air threats at once. BMD is also an option.
    Crusier class Vessel with the ability to engage multiple surface and land targets at good range and precision.
    A heavy crusier/arsenal ship/battlescrusier Realy whatever you want to call it. Heavily armed armored and heavy defenses.
    Every ship from destroyer to crusiers needs to be nuke powered. Assualt ships for marines also nuke powered. Better defenses from air threats.
    All major combat ships need improved ECM systems power systems.
    Subs were doing OK on for the moment and well im tired of typing. :)
    Stealth is a great thing. But not when it makes the ship or weapon cost so much it becomes to valuable to ever risk or makes the price so high that the weapons system becomes costly.
    BTW why dont we (US), Japan, Britain, Australia, South korea, and other allied states start working together on ships.
    The US, SK, Japan, as well as Australia need air/BMD defense ships and frigates for ASW. Also Why not work on a pocket carrier for marine actions/ASW/standard patrol duties and defense.
    Just wondering

  • justbill

    Valcan wrote: “Its already been shown that even our carrier task forces are at risk from multiple fast missile boats like the chinese and well most likely enemy countries favor.”
    I realize the Navy lost an important surveillance and ASuW asset with the retirement of the Viking, but what squadron(s) of missile boats will beat the Hawkeye/Hornet team? Throw a few Penguin-armed Seahawks and an escorting SSN or two into the mix and I think it’s game over for the missile boats. (All this assumes they weren’t sunk at their piers or unable to leave port courtesy of mining.)

  • tiger

    dddg1000……. Pricey toy that can’t even stop Pirates off Africa. Sorry, but Bin Ladden is not scared of a 155mm deep in Pakistan. Pork project for Bath Iron and a pay off to the 2 senators form Maine for voting on the stimulus package for Obama.

  • tiger

    dddg1000……. Pricey toy that can’t even stop Pirates off Africa. Sorry, but Bin Ladden is not scared of a 155mm deep in Pakistan. Pork project for Bath Iron and a pay off to the 2 senators form Maine for voting on the stimulus package for Obama.

  • Razer

    Wha? This ship far pre-dates the Obama administration. Not everything can be chalked up to those “dirty liberals”.
    Valcan has made some solid points. The U.S. is in love with their Swiss Army Knife products. “We need a scout vehical… but it needs to carry 12 troops, have a cannon large enough to take out a Russian tank, and hell, lets make is amphibious”. There is no shame in making specialty ships/planes/vehicals and moving them together in formation. Isn’t that the entire point of a battle-group?

  • bleh

    The reason for the Swiss Army Knives is Congress.
    If you design half a dozen specialized systems working together beautifully to provide a highly effective and cost efficient balanced force you can be certain that Congress is gonna kill one or two projects for some stupid reason or other.
    Suddenly you lack some essential capability.
    If instead you build hopelessly overengineered jack of all trades, very large, complicated and expensive weapons systems that can be neatly distributed across all 50 states and 220 congressional districts, and voila, you got yourself a cancel-proof program.

  • The electronic wrrafae package sounds nice, but the platform itself seems dated. Looks much like a Civil War era Confederate iron clad. Why couldn’t a submersible be set-up to provide similar surveillance, weapon systems and littoral capability. I’ll admit my lack of engineering background, I just happen to like submarines. Too much “voyage to the bottom of the sea” I suppose.