back to article US Navy's newest ship sets sail with Captain James Kirk at the bridge

The US Navy's largest destroyer has finally set sail. And at its helm is Captain James Kirk. The USS Zumwalt, named after Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, has embarked on its first open ocean trials after eight years of construction. The $4bn Zumwalt is at the cutting edge of technology and will be the first of three in its class ( …

Page:

  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    One missile hit and it's all over.

    its gentle sloping sides are good for deflecting projectiles

    Those must be softballs. The times of iron walls are long past gone.

    Today's "projectiles" aka autonomous missiles, hypersonic or otherwise, will transform this silly radar-evading contraption into a rapidly expanding shell of debris and fleshy parts.

    A couple of "terrorists" (even though they attacked a clear military target) ripped the destroyer USS Cole a new one with just a dinghy and some plastic explosives ... of course this gave the US a good occasion to demand money from any and all members of the momentary axis of evil, as the Empire is wont to do, but I digress.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

      Yes but it should be safe from enemies in land locked Afghanistan

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

      This is not a battle tank. The sloping sides deflect radar beams, not projectiles. The author really ought to read up a little on the subject first.

      The idea behind the flat slopes is to reflect radar beams in one or two directions, which are usually not back toward the radar dish. Anything to avoid curves that reflect widely.

      I guess the hope is that incoming cruise missiles can be more easily distracted by decoys when the primary target ping is so small. I bet the ship carries a number of drone boats with outsized radar signatures, and drives them around randomly along with the ship itself when in danger. The approaching missile would have no way to know which ping is the real target.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

        The problem is "where's the targeting radar"? At sea level or low altitude this angled side ought to work pretty well. If the targeting radar is airborne at a good altitude to minimize the angle, it might get back a better signal.. but then there's the decoys.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          is airborne at a good altitude to minimize the angle, it might get back a better signal

          Maybe - in a flat sea. Waves do reflect radar waves very well, and these surfaces may look like them....

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

      Actually sloping sides increase armors effectiveness. However, I doubt the Zumwalt has any real armor. Modern warships designs are unbalanced with more offensive capability than they can absorb.

      As to the Cole, her damage and near sinking shows the weakness of unbalanced designs. In boxing she would be described as having a glass jaw.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

        >In boxing she would be described as having a glass jaw.

        Or in mmorpg's, "a glass cannon."

      2. MondoMan
        Pirate

        Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

        Aside from the ship sinking, the other worry about a single hit is that a hit to a magazine will effectively disarm the ship by destroying most of its missiles.

        The Zumwalt design deals with this in two ways: 1) The VLS missile pods are dispersed around the perimeter of the ship next to the hull, rather than being centralized and concentrated as in other USN ships, and 2) taking a page from modern tank ammunition storage design, the hull-side armor of the VLS pods is significantly thinner than the interior-side armor; any explosion in a pod should vent most of its force and projectiles outside the ship rather than towards the inhabited interior spaces.

      3. Dan Wilkie

        Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

        Not strictly true... Modern warships are thin hulled as it's better for defending against anti-ship missiles. If you have big armour belts then the missile hits it, detonates, and you have all the shock damage and spalling to deal with. The intention is that a high velocity missile will pass through the thin sides of the ship before detonating, thus punching a big hole and not doing much else.

        I think the jury is out as to whether it works in practice, I guess there's not really been any empirical side by side comparison tests...

        It's the age old military problem of fighting the last war though. If we were to start armouring all our ships again, you could guarantee that next time we'd be facing enemies making widespread use of anti ship missiles again.

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

          @Dan_Wilkie I guess there's not really been any empirical side by side comparison tests...

          Nothing recently, although our Royal Navy did their bit for live practice back in '82. HMS Sheffield, for example.

          The point is these craft are normally a missile picket for the capital ships (aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships etc). They're armed to down any attacker and put up a good fight, but ultimately their role is to take the missile instead of their big sister.

          1. JLV Silver badge

            >to take the missile instead of their big sister

            Given its cost co$$$$t doubt the Zumwalt is as disposable as that. Though in historical terms you are precisely correct. This race upwards in capability and cost, downwards in numbers, is gonna cost Western armies dear as second tier opponents scale up to good-enough.

            Hopefully we won't get to see Chinese asymmetric developments in action (ex DF-21), because that competition will diffuse itself. But if we did, I find our platinum-plated approach worrying. Not the least because the only credible opponent motivating these systems is China which spurs more arms race.

            Good for defence firm revenues tho.

            1. MyffyW Silver badge

              Re: >to take the missile instead of their big sister

              An interesting point @JLV - the race downwards in numbers will get to the point that a raider has as much chance finding a capital ship as one of the missile pickets.

        2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

          In the battle off Samar in WW II, the Japanese armor-piercing projectiles did in fact pass through the thin decks and hulls of the escort carriers without detonating, at least in some cases.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

      Klingons on the Starboard bow, Scotty be me up.

      How fitting if Captain Kirk gets the command of the under construction USS Enterprise (CVN-80) in 2025.

      1. roytrubshaw
        Coat

        Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

        "How fitting if Captain Kirk gets the command of the under construction USS Enterprise (CVN-80) in 2025."

        I would guess that, if he is still serving, they will give him command (whatever his rank as the commander of a ship is always 'Captain' when in command) just so that they have a Captain Kirk in command of the Enterprise.

      2. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

        'How fitting if Captain Kirk gets the command of the under construction USS Enterprise (CVN-80) in 2025.'

        The US Navy's publicists should move heaven and earth to make it happen - although they might melt the Internet if it were to happen.

    5. LDS Silver badge

      Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

      The gentle sloping sides are to deflect radio waves, not projectiles.

      But you're post is contradiction - a big iron wall would have made the terrorist attack on Cole useless - if it had been, say, the Iowa, it wouldn't have had any real damage (but some hundreds kg of explosives are not "some plastic").

      And the idea of this class of ships it's exactly to make lock-on of autonomous missiles very hard (how do you believe they are autonomous?) - while being able also to down them with new weapons. Will it be successful? I do not know - but surely improved attack weapons needs improved - and sometimes wholly new - countermeasures as well.

    6. Bloakey1

      Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

      <snip>

      "A couple of "terrorists" (even though they attacked a clear military target) ripped the destroyer USS Cole a new one with just a dinghy and some plastic explosives ... of course this gave the US a good occasion to demand money from any and all members of the momentary axis of evil, as the Empire is wont to do, but I digress."

      At the time people thought it was a terrorist boat when in fact naval specialists declared it to be a Bin Liner .

    7. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Destroyed All Braincells Re: One missile hit and it's all over.

      "its gentle sloping sides are good for deflecting projectiles....." Take a deep breath, try and control the hate, then go back and actually read the article, it says "its gentle sloping sides are good for minimising its radar signature", nothing about deflecting projectiles.

      "....The times of iron walls are long past gone...." If by "iron walls" you mean the old iron-clads then yes, if you mean the old battleships with their steel belts then that is debatable. What killed the old battleships was cost and the threat of Cold War nuke missiles - why pour so much money into a fleet of battleships when one nuke could take out an entire fleet? But in the 80s the USN used the WW2-era Iowa class battleships to shell terrorist positions around Beirut for two reasons - the ship's guns could out-range most missiles available to terrorists in Beirut, and the ship's armour could easily withstand the impact of a cruise missile hitting the side. Hilariously, the Russians spent millions of rubles developing anti-ship missiles that dive on the target just because of the old Iowas, but then the old ships were retired anyway!

      "....Today's "projectiles" aka autonomous missiles, hypersonic or otherwise, will transform this silly radar-evading contraption into a rapidly expanding shell of debris and fleshy parts....." The idea of the tech is to make the ship harder to find and shoot at on the open sea, the primary tool for such being radar. You can't hit what you can't see. And then, even if you can find it, if you have radar-guided anti-ship missiles then you could still be unable to hit it anyway.

      "....USS Cole...." The Cole was not attacked on the open sea but in a constricted waterway. It was also a one-off tactic as every navy in the World took note and doubled their short-range deck defences and rewrote their rules of engagement for potentially troublesome areas. The right rules of engagement and one M2 on a pintle mount would be enough to defeat a repeat of the Cole attack.

      ".....gave the US a good occasion to demand money from any and all members of the momentary axis of evil, as the Empire is wont to do...." Kool-aid overload detected!

      1. Chris Miller

        @Matt

        its gentle sloping sides are good for deflecting projectiles

        The article has been amended to replace the offending clause - it really did originally refer to deflecting missiles.

  2. Mage Silver badge

    Bit retro?

    Reminds me of some of the old PRE Victorian dreadnaughts and ironclads.

    I'd not like to be in it if it's hit broadsides by a wave!

    1. Mystereed

      Re: Bit retro?

      Plus, if it ploughed into a wave going forward at speed, won't the shape of that bow cause it to dig it and submerge?

      So, is it actually a stealth submarine with a massive conning tower? :-)

      1. Hellcat

        Re: Bit retro?

        A bow like hers is less prone to heavy knocking when going through waves. This allows for the vessel to move faster without taking heavy impacts which tends to break stuff.

        I've seen more and more of these shape bows on ships including cargo vessels although I assume there is more to it than just fitting the bow on upside down.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. HildyJ
    FAIL

    What do it do?

    This is a perfect example of the confluence of the military-industrial complex, the good old days of war mindset, and the right wing Congress wasting billions on equipment with no practical purpose. What would we ever use it for?

    As for its stealth technology, it's big enough that it's visible from space. Here is it under construction:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@43.9038429,-69.8112929,234m/data=!3m1!1e3

    1. Field Commander A9

      Re: What do it do?

      Satellite recon is only good for stationary targets as it can only do a sweep every 8 hrs. Recon drones, on the other hand, can stay on station for much longer, but can be shot down by SM-6s... unless the drones are stealth too like the X-47B.

      1. waldo kitty
        Boffin

        Re: What do it do?

        Satellite recon is only good for stationary targets as it can only do a sweep every 8 hrs.

        really? you've never heard of geostationary or geosynchronous satellites? that's two different but similar things and there are some craft that maintain their position that are not orbiting at the equator... then there's the molniya orbit where one craft is on station all the time while another is moving off and a third one is arriving to take over... the point being that you can watch a site continuously from orbit without any lapse in viewing time...

        1. Swarthy Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: What do it do?

          Yes, you could keep a site under constant surveillance. Following a moving target with a satellite in GEO would be ..impractical. And as this is about a stealth-ish ship, I would assume it's going to move.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What do it do?

          "you've never heard of geostationary or geosynchronous satellites?"

          Geosynchronous satellites are 36,000 km from the earth so I don't think they do the kind of high resolution imaging we normally associate with spy satellites or even google maps. Spy satellites are in low earth orbit about a 1,000 km above the surface so imaging is much easier.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: What do it do?

      Oh. I saw that on G00gle Earth too, but I thought it was going to be Larry's new yacht, what with the funny bow and all...

    3. BenR

      Re: What do it do?

      "As for its stealth technology, it's big enough that it's visible from space."

      Fairly stupid statement to make, considering that MilSpec satellite cameras have been good enough for nearly 40 years to pick up a packet of cigarettes on the ground from orbit. Even the Google-purchased recon imagery used in Maps is good enough that you can pick up individual cars without any real difficulty.

      "Stealth" doesn't mean invisible. It's not a cloaking device. It means it's more difficult to pick up on targetting radars because it has a small RCS for the size of it. Like the F117A and the B2.

    4. IsJustabloke Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: What do it do?

      Firstly, they knew exactly where to look and secondly I don't think you realise just how BIG the worlds oceans are.

  4. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge
    FAIL

    So this is the quality of the defence articles we get on The Reg now that Lewis Page is banished. I'm only hanging around for the BOFH and to roll my eyes and this sort of guff.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      What happened to Lewis?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        He and Worstall were kicked down the stairs and out the door. Or maybe they walked using their own power.

        1. Alien8n Silver badge

          When did that happen? Sure I was reading their articles just recently..

          1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            But where am I going to get my environmental news now? I'm going to have to take out a subscription to Bunty magazine.

            Actually it's almost a shame: I liked Lewis's defence writing and while I rarely agreed with Worstall (that rarest of things, a UKIP-supporting economist) in his conclusions, some of his facts made for an interesting read. Always good to see how the other half think.

            1. Mike Taylor

              I'm gutted about them going. While I'm a bleeding heart liberal, I like intelligent journalism.

          2. Flatpackhamster

            When?

            In the last month. Apparently what the world needs - especially the tech world - is more lightweight analysis by left-wing or centre-left journalists, of whom there is apparently a colossal shortage. Worstall's stuff was superb, Page's defence stuff also superb, but they didn't hold the same views as the Trendy Wendies, so out they go. The Register is rapidly becoming a fucking embarrassment.

            1. Alien8n Silver badge

              Re: When?

              Both clearly had their biases, Worstall at times came across rabid capitalist, but at least they had some understanding about their subjects. Worstall's analysis of the rare earths trade was actually informative. I do find lately that I take one look at the main page and there are less stories that grab my attention.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      +1

      They also missed that this American "Innovation" is late - French got there first.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Fayette-class_frigate

      Granted, that is a Frigate, but it is the first sea going "Tomorrow Never Dies".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        Re: +1

        They also missed that this American "Innovation" is late - French got there first.

        And the Swedish (granted it's a corvette this time)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visby-class_corvette

      2. IsJustabloke Silver badge

        Re: +1

        HMS Daring (type 45 destroyer) , in service right now and she has a very slopey stealthy look about her as well although hers is mainly in the superstructure rather than the hull.

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      If by 'article' you mean 're-worded press release' and/or 'bits cut and pasted from news agency item', then yes.

      If you want Lewis back, start giving the editor(s) feedback and gentle persuasion to that effect.

      1. Chris Miller

        I'd love to see Lewis back, but I'm afraid that ship has sailed (sorry). To do so would require senior management admitting that they'd screwed up, which has yet to happen in the entire history of mankind.

  5. Sokolik
    Happy

    "Zumwalt"?

    Then, where are the sideburns?

  6. Tank boy
    Flame

    Boondoggle.

    Of all the things the US military needs is a stealth ship. How about invisibility cloaks for the guys on the ground? Perhaps a +15 Vorpal Blade and a +30 buckler to go with it? Truly beggars the imagination how this got past the Phase Of Ridiculous Ideas that hampers the military budget. I'm actually surprised that they didn't try to make it a combination submersible/airborne platform that can fire fucking Daisy Cutter bombs from the deck cannon while travelling at Mach 2.

    1. Martin 47

      Re: Boondoggle.

      I think the phrase your looking for is 'pork barrel politics'

  7. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Stabilty

    > its gentle sloping sides are good for deflecting projectiles but not as good for staying upright without computer assistance.

    So if the computer goes, she capsizes?! Not sure if that is a good idea.

    The shape reminds me of the imperial fleet from Star Wars. If the Empire had a sea-going navy, the ships would no doubt look just like that.

    1. Brian Miller

      Re: Stabilty

      And cost! The program so far is over $22 BEELION dollars, with the Zumwalt's "unit" cost nearly $4 BEELION dollars. Is this running Windows for Warships? "Captain, it's a blue screen!" "Quick, reboot the computer before we capsize!"

      Never mind an iceberg, the Navy has Windows...

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019