March 31, 1992, the last Iowa class battleship– the USS Missouri– was officially decommissioned after 48 years of service. It was old, and decommission couldn’t have waited much longer, but now the Navy was faced with a dilemma. Without any big guns on their ships, the U.S Navy’s ability to provide fire support would be severely limited.
That’s where the Zumwalt comes into the picture. It is a multi-role class that was designed for secondary roles of surface warfare and anti-aircraft warfare and originally designed with a primary role of naval gunfire support. While it may not look like your average military battleship– in fact more like a floating concrete slab– it is a cutting edge destroyer packed with state of the art tech.
But the Zumwalt does have a bit of a problem. It, like the subject of my last article(https://thedailyclicks.org/?p=525), has a bit of a cost problem. The ship itself it amazingly expensive and they had to cut the number they would make from 32 to 3. But amazingly, the ship isn’t the most surprisingly expensive thing. It’s the projectile for its main deck guns. Yes, you heard me right- the thing it shoots that just blows up after one use is too expensive. And even though the navy cut the program by 90%. The guns, tailor-made for the destroyer, will be unable to fire until the Navy chooses a cheaper replacement round.
The round, the long-range attack projectile(LRLAP) is a precision 155 mm shell. It is designed to provide long-range naval gunfire support against shore-based targets. But they cost–get ready– $800,000 or more each! Eight hundred thousand dollars for one shell(about the same price as a Tomahawk cruise missile). A full buy of about 2,000 rounds would be about $1.8-$2 billion. They are amazingly advanced though. Their range is over 190 kilometers(although it’s effective range is only 100 kilometers), they’re high explosive and they have a built-in GPS. And by the way, guess who developed them? That’s right, the exact same company that made my other article’s overpriced piece of metal–Lockheed Martin.
Overall, the Zumwalt isn’t worth the effort. A ship can’t provide support to ground troops if it has nothing to shoot. It also has less vertical firing missile silos than any other current Navy destroyer. The only advantage it has is stealth. Despite its size, it has the radar cross-section of a fishing boat. I think the U.S Navy has to bring in one of their older destroyers to take the Zumwalt’s place while they figure out if they want to do some real fixing up or just get a new ship.