US to christen new futuristic Zumwalt warship
WASHINGTON, USA (AFP) - The US Navy will on Saturday christen the USS Zumwalt, the first of a new class of futuristic, costly destroyers of which only three are to be built.
The warship, which began construction in 2009, will join the fleet in 2016, the Navy said in a statement.
The christening, during which the traditional bottle of sparkling wine will be broken on the ship's bow, is to take place at a shipyard in Bath, Maine, the Navy said in a statement.
The Zumwalt, named in honour of a former chief of naval operations, was planned as a multi-mission ship equipped with two long-range, high-powered guns.
It is also carries 80 missile cells, adapted for Tomahawk land attack missiles, among others.
The 610-foot (183-metre), 15,000-ton warship is fitted with several new technologies, including in its propulsion system, which allows it to operate with a small team of just 158 people.
That's well below the 276 needed for the smaller Arleigh-Burke class destroyers, which have been in operation since the early 1990s, and weigh in at less than 10,000 tons and 500 feet.
The US Navy currently has 62 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, of which 25 are equipped with an anti-ballistic missile defence system.
These ships make up the backbone of the US anti-missile defence programme.