Inside the USS Zumwalt, the world’s largest destroyer

But the Zumwalts were plagued by problems.

USS Zumwalt transits Fort Williams State Park with the Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse in the background en route to Portland Harbor in 2015.

Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald/Getty Images



Despite their expense, the Zumwalts were plagued by equipment problems. Shortly after entering service in 2016, the USS Zumwalt collapsed in the Panama Canal. The second ship in its class, the USS Michael Monsoor, failed in sea trials the following year.

As a 2018 Military Watch Magazine report noted, the Zumwalts “suffered from malfunctioning weapons, stalled engines, and underperforming of their stealth skills, among other things.”

“They have almost entirely failed to fulfill the originally intended role of dual-role destroyer warships, while the sheer magnitude of the cost overruns call into question the viability of the program, even if the destroyers could function as intended,” the outlet said.

The Zumwalts lack several key capabilities, including anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, and long-range anti-aircraft missiles, military expert Sebastian Roblin wrote in a 2021 National Interest article. Roblin called the destroyers an “ambitious but failed ship concept.”

And, observed Roblin, their guns didn’t come cheap. The ship’s long-range projectile-guided land-attack grenades cost about $800,000 each — about the same as a cruise missile. The ammunition was eventually canceled as it was deemed too expensive to merit production.

Roblin said the Zumwalt was produced based on “unrealistic” estimates that called for minimal costs, despite going over budget by 50%.

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