The futuristic destroyer USS Zumwalt, commanded by none other than Captain James Kirk, has headed out to sea to begin its sea trials.
Zumwalt is one of a new class of ships, including the Zumwalt, USS Michael Monsoor (named after a Medal of Honor Recipient Navy SEAL who lost his life in Iraq) and the USS Lyndon B. Johnson. Zumwalt is named after Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, who was chief of naval operations in the waning years of the Vietnam War.
Six hundred-and-ten feet long, the USS Zumwalt is a 15,480-ton destroyer with a pyramid-shaped hull which was designed to make it more difficult to find on radar. Sea trials will answer concerns as to whether the unconventional shape will affect stability in rough seas.
Zumwalt cost more than four billion dollars to design. The ship will test futuristic weapons including an electromagnetic rail gun. It will use “electromagnetic pulses to launch projectiles at Mach 7, or seven times the speed of sound, at targets up to 110 miles away.”
Commanding the USS Zumwalt is Captain James Kirk. That is, Captain James A. Kirk. However the real Kirk’s call sign became Tiberius (the fictional Kirk’s middle name). Kirk is used to taking grief over his name. Earlier in his career, colleagues told him that “they couldn’t wait for him to reach the rank of captain.”
“I don’t take any offense,” said Kirk. “If it’s a helpful moniker that brings attention to help us to do what we need to do to get the ship into the fleet and into combat operations, then that’s fine.”