San Diego-bound $4B Navy destroyer malfunctions in Panama Canal
WASHINGTON – Just weeks after its debut, the Navy’s most technologically advanced destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, has been put out of action due to engineering problems that occurred while it was crossing the Panama Canal.
“The timeline for repairs is being determined now,” US Navy Cmdr. Ryan Perry said in a statement to CNN.
Perry noted that the commander of the US Third Fleet, Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, directed the ship to remain at ex-Naval Station Rodman in Panama to determine what caused the malfunction.
The issue occurred Monday while the Zumwalt was on its way to its new homeport of San Diego where it was to join the US Third Fleet, which is responsible for the Pacific Ocean.
The ship is thought to be the most advanced destroyer ever built.
Upon its October commissioning in Baltimore, Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., commander of US Pacific Command, said, “If Batman had a ship, it would be the USS Zumwalt.”
The Zumwalt, equipped with sharp angles and weaponry concealed behind flat surfaces, is designed to be more difficult to spot on radar than conventional destroyers.
“We can’t get this technological marvel to the Pacific fast enough,” Harris said last month, adding, “The technology in Zumwalt’s unique hull and the ingenuity of her stalwart crew are powerful guarantors of peace.”
But the ship’s high cost is likely to bring additional scrutiny to the recent malfunction.
The Zumwalt is said to have cost $4.4 billion to build. The Navy initially planned to order over 20 of the new destroyers but cost overruns and delays caused the number of ships ordered to be reduced to just three vessels.
According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the total program cost, consisting of three ships, will be over $22 billion.