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You are not ready for the Zumwalts

Sleek hull

The DDG 1000

Bigger on the inside?

More than just a box


Christening ceremony

Great guns

Serious sonar

Advanced weapons

Future-forward fighting

No explosives necessary

The next generation

LBJ returns from the grave

Imagined action

Bath Iron Works recently christened the first of the US Navy's next-generation Zumwalt-class destroyers, breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the ship's bow at its Bath, Maine, shipyard.

The DDG 1000 has some seriously mind-blowing capabilities. But the next two ships in its class may have weaponry so futuristic it'll almost double as sci-fi.

Caption by / Photo by Courtesy: Raytheon Company

First, the basics on the DDG 1000, the first of three Zumwalt-class destroyers: The 610-foot-long ship comes equipped with new technologies including radar reflecting angles, a striking inward-sloping tumblehome hull, an all-electric integrated power system, and an advanced gun system.

Caption by / Photo by Corbis

Efficient and quiet, the design minimizes its radar signature, making it appear smaller than its actual size.

Caption by / Photo by Corbis

Meanwhile, on the inside: The cutting-edge operating system developed by Raytheon is the first large-scale implementation of the US Navy's open-architecture strategy, designed to bind all Zumwalt onboard systems together.

The Total Ship Computing Environment has a simple, "sailor-centric" interface, says the Navy, allowing for a high degree of automation and a more effective and efficient combat experience.

Caption by / Photo by Raytheon

This may look like any other gray box, but the ship's Electronic Modular Enclosures are actually pretty impressive, packing hundreds of computing cabinets into one pre-assembled, ready-to-install unit.

Caption by / Photo by Raytheon

The namesake for the ship: the late Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr., who, in 1970, at age 49, became the youngest man to serve as the US Navy's top-ranking officer. He was also seen as a champion for an equal-opportunity Navy.

Caption by / Photo by Corbis

The ship's co-sponsors, Ann Zumwalt and Mouzetta Zumwalt-Weathers, daughters of the ship's namesake, broke a bottle of sparkling wine across the ship's bow to introduce it to the world.

Caption by / Photo by Courtesy: Raytheon Company

The MK57 Vertical Launching System is a state-of-the-art weapon launcher designed to fire missiles for sea, land and air attacks.

Its modular electronic architecture allows Zumwalt destroyers to rapidly switch to new missile systems by minimizing the need to requalify their launchers.

Caption by / Photo by Raytheon

The ship also has state-of-the-art tech for detecting underwater threats: The Integrated Undersea Warfare Sonar. It consists of two arrays (high and medium frequencies) in one automated, hull-mounted system.

Caption by / Photo by Raytheon

Zumwalt's Advanced Gun System carries two 155mm guns capable of firing long-range projectiles that can strike a target from a distance of 63 nautical miles.

At least one of the Zumwalt-class ships, the third in the series, also has been designed to support the US Navy's coming electromagnetic rail gun, expected to be deployed in 2016.

Caption by / Photo by Courtesy: Raytheon Company

Railguns have long been a dream for weapons designers, not to mention a staple in sci-fi series such as "Battlestar Galactica."

Caption by / Photo by Corbis

The strength of rail guns is in what they don't use: neither explosives nor propellant. Instead the guns rely on electromagnetic forces that can deliver a very high kinetic energy.

This high-speed video image, taken at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia, shows the test firing of an electronic railgun.

Caption by / Photo by Corbis

The USS Michael Monsoor, the second of the three planned ships, is expected to sail in 2016. Monsoor was a Navy SEAL killed during the Iraq War.

Seen in this conceptual image, the ship will have a crew size of 148 and sail at speeds of 30 knots or more.

Caption by / Photo by U.S. Navy/Public domain

The Navy's third and final planned Zumwalt-class ship, the Lyndon B. Johnson, is the vessel most likely to sport a railgun when it launches.

The railgun would likely replace one of the two Advanced Gun Systems usually earmarked for a Zumwalt-class destroyer.

Caption by / Photo by U.S. Navy/Public domain

With luck, of course, no Zumwalt-class ship will ever have to deploy a weapon. But this conceptual image shows what the DDG-1000 might look like in battle.

Caption by / Photo by U.S. Navy/Public domain
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