Navy tests stealth Zumwalt destroyer computers

The Navy has begun on-board testing of a series of next-generation computer systems and blade servers aboard its new high-tech stealth destroyer, the USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), slated to enter service by 2019.

The new system, called Total Ship Computing Environment, as had a number of software releases, with the eighth upgrade being integrated this year, Capt. Kevin Smith, DDG 1000 program manager, explained at the Navy League’s Annual Sea Air Space exhibition at National Harbor, Md.

The Navy’s new stealthy high-tech destroyer, commissioned in October of last year, incorporates a range of emerging, not-yet-deployed technologies including new navigation, propulsion, auxiliary systems, computer systems, fire protection and damage control capabilities, service officials said.  

The Zumwalt’s Total Ship Computing Environment includes software and blade servers, which run seven million lines of code. The technology not only manages the weapons systems on the ship, but also handles the radar and fire control software and logistical items such as water, fuel, oil and power for the ship, Navy developers said.

The ship’s integrated power system, which includes its electric propulsion, helps generate up to 78 megawatts of on-board electrical power, a key factor as it will support a host of ship technologies and future weapons systems. 

The DDG 1000 also has an AN/SPY-3 X-band multi-function radar which is described as volume-search capable, meaning it can detect threats at higher volumes than other comparable radar systems.   The volume search capability, which can be added through software upgrades, enables the radar to detect a wider range of missile flight profiles.

The ship is engineered to fire Tomahawk missiles as well as torpedoes, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and a range of standard missiles such as the SM2, SM3 and SM6. 

Additionally, as a survivability enhancing measure, the Total Ship Computing Environment also ensures additional layers of redundancy to ensure that messages and information can be delivered across the ship in the event of attack, Raytheon officials said. 

Many of the blade servers and other technical items are housed in structures called electronic modular enclosures, or EMEs. There are 16 EME’s built on each ship, each with more than 235 electronics cabinets. The structures are designed to safeguard much of the core electronics for the ship. 

In May of last year, the new ship was formally delivered to the Navy at Bath Iron Works in Portland, Maine.

“The shape of the superstructure and the arrangement of its antennas significantly reduce radar cross section, making the ship less visible to enemy radar at sea,” the Navy said.

"The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of the most technically complex and advanced warship the world has ever seen," Rear Adm. (select) James Downey, DDG 1000 Program Manager, said in a written statement just following the delivery. 

Several reports have indicated that ships off the coast of Maine recently thought the DDG 1000 was a small fishing boat due to its stealthy design. That is precisely the intent of the ship – it seeks to penetrate enemy areas, deliver lethal attacks while remaining undetected by enemy radar. The ship is engineered for both land attack and open water surface warfare, Navy officials said. 

 DDG 1000 has gone through successful Acceptance Trials and Hull Maintenance and Electrical (HM&E) systems.  Following HM&E delivery, the ship went through a brief crew certification period at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, before sailing to Baltimore for commissioning. Following the commissioning, the ship will transit to its homeport in San Diego where Mission Systems Activation will occur, Navy officials explained. 

Not only does the ship have a new electric drive system for propulsion as opposed to diesel or steam –but the ship is configured with sonar, sensors, electronics, computing technology and weapons systems which have not previously been engineered into a Navy destroyer or comparable ship, said Wade Knudson, DDG 1000 Program Manager, Raytheon. 

The Zumwalt-class destroyers will have unprecedented mine-detecting sonar technologies for destroyers through utilization of what is called an integrated undersea warfare system, or IUW, IUW is a dual-band sonar technology which uses both medium and high-frequency detection, Knudson added. 

Medium sonar frequency is engineered to detect ships and submarines, and high-frequency sonar adds the ability to avoid sea-mines, he added. 

The DDG 1000  is designed to detect mines because the destroyer is, in part, being developed for land-attack missions, an activity likely to bring the vessel closer to shore than previous destroyers might be prepared to sail. The ship has a shallow draft to enable it to operate closer to shore than most deep-water ships. 

As the first Zumwalt-class destroyer gets ready for service, construction of the second is already underway. The DDG 1001 is already more than 75-percent complete and fabrication of DDG 1002 is already underway, Navy officials said.
 

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