Washington: The US Navy has commissioned its largest, most expensive and technologically advanced destroyer, prompting a top admiral to say, "If Batman had a ship, it would be the USS Zumwalt".
The Zumwalt, costing nearly USD 4.4 billion, is striking in appearance, with sharp angles and weaponry concealed behind flat surfaces, a design that makes it many times more difficult to spot on radar than conventional destroyers.
"If Batman had a ship, it would be the USS Zumwalt," Admiral Harry B Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, where the ship will be assigned.
The 610-foot-long ship, commissioned in Baltimore yesterday, also has an advanced power plant and weapon systems that can move the Navy into the future, said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.
"It doesn't look like other ships and it does things other ships cannot do," Mabus said.
The ship is named after Adm. Elmo R "Bud" Zumwalt, a Bronze Star winner from World War II who went on to serve in the Korean and Vietnam wars and as chief of naval operations from 1970 to 1974.
"The Navy and the nation are better because of Admiral Zumwalt," Mabus was quoted as saying by CNN.
A Navy news release raves about the Zumwalt and its two sister ships, the Michael Mansoor and the Lyndon B. Johnson, both under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine.
Among the things that set the Zumwalt apart from its predecessors in the Arleigh Burke-class of destroyers:
-- A larger flight deck that enables operations with new F-35 fighters and MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft;
-- Larger vertical launch missile tubes that can fire larger and more advanced land attack and anti-ship missiles;
-- An electrical power system that generates almost as much electricity as the nuclear power plants on aircraft carriers.
"The ship can operate all of its systems and still generate enough electricity to power a small town," the Navy said.
It has the ability, with that extra power, to accommodate weapons of the future, such as electronic rail guns and laser.
But for all that, the Navy plans to buy only the three Zumwalt-class destroyers it has on order, down from 32 originally envisioned early in the programme, the report said.
The Navy is now focusing on an updated version of the current -- and more conventional -- Arleigh Burke class.