With breakdowns and growing costs, the U.S. Navy's most expensive destroyer ever is likely to face added scrutiny by the incoming Trump administration and could see its future role minimized.
The USS Zumwalt, a stealth ship commissioned in October and costing upward of $4.4 billion, has already had engineering and propulsion problems and experienced a breakdown last week when it passed through a portion of the Panama Canal. It was delivered about two years late and despite its stealthy qualities is seen by some as vulnerable and no longer suitable for the missions it was designed to handle.
"Since they originally started to build the ship, the threat environment has changed so that cruise missiles can easily reach out and hit anybody that's out there close enough to use a gun to hit the shore," said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent policy research institute based in Washington, D.C.
Clark, a former aide to the chief of naval operations, explained that the Zumwalt-class destroyer was originally designed for operating close to shore such as acting as support for Marines when they land on shore. "That mission sort of fell away [and now the ship is] too vulnerable and too valuable to have them get so close to shore."
The Navy plans to get two more of the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers, which are equipped with labor-saving technology and manufactured by General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works in Maine. But its fate will ultimately rest with President-elect Donald Trump, who has made expansion of the Navy part of his plan to strengthen the military.
A General Dynamics Bath Iron Works spokesman deferred questions on the destroyer to the Navy, which did not respond at deadline.