Navy puts DDG-1000 destroyer on hold

The composites-intensive ship got too expensive. Two under construction will be built, one in Maine, one in Mississippi.

The Navy Times reported on July 24 that the Zumwalt-class DDG 1000 advanced destroyer program — projected in the late 1990s to produce 32 new ships and subsequently downscaled to a seven-ship class — will instead turn out only two ships. Instead of more 1000s, the Navy will continue to build more Arleigh Burke-class DDG 51 destroyers, construction of which had been slated to end in 2012.

Top Navy and Pentagon brass met Tuesday to make the decision, which means the service will ask Congress to drop the request for the third ship in the 2009 defense budget and forego plans to ask for the remaining four ships.

The DDG 1000 is a composites-intensive ship designed to stealthily move close to enemy shore to provide close-range access for the ship's guns and shore-bound Marines. It features advanced technologies, composite materials, an unconventional wave-piercing hull and a smaller crew than the latest Arleigh Burke destroyers.

Each of the two ships now under contract will be built, according to the decision. That means the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Me. will build the Zumwalt DDG 1000, and Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls yard in Pascagoula, Miss., will construct the yet-to-be-named DDG 1001.

The reprogramming decision was made at a conference on July 22 hosted by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England and attended by Navy Secretary Donald Winter, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and Pentagon acquisition chief John Young.

According to the report, the decision appears to be based on fears that potential cost overruns on the Zumwalts — estimated to cost about $3.3 billion for each of the two lead ships, and more for subsequent ships — could threaten other Navy shipbuilding programs. The service declined comment on the July 22 decision, but in a statement released July 17, Navy spokesman Lt. Clay Doss said, “We need traction and stability in our combatant lines to reach 313 ships, and we should not raid the combatant line to fund other shipbuilding priorities. Even if we did not receive funding for the DDG 1000 class beyond the first two ships, the technology embedded in DDG 1000 will advance the Navy’s future surface combatants.”

Information: Navy Times report,