WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy has announced April 7 that the first DD(X) destroyer will be designated DDG 1000. As the lead ship in the class, it will also be named in honor of former Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Elmo R. "Bud" Zumwalt, Jr.
Developed under the DD(X) destroyer program, Zumwalt is the lead ship in a class of next-generation, multimission surface combatants tailored for land attack and littoral dominance, with capabilities designed to defeat current and projected threats as well as improve battle force defense.
Zumwalt was appointed Chief of Naval Operations in 1970. As the youngest man ever to serve as CNO, Zumwalt cemented an acclaimed reputation as a visionary leader and thoughtful reformer. July 4, 2000, then-President Bill Clinton celebrated Zumwalt's accomplishments and memory with the naming of the class and lead ship shortly after the admiral's passing in Durham, N.C., Jan. 2, 2000.
Zumwalt was born in San Francisco in 1920 and grew up in Tulare, Calif. He was a cum laude graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1942.
As CNO, Zumwalt initiated wide-ranging reforms in a dramatic effort to revitalize the Navy. Time magazine hailed Zumwalt as "the Navy's most popular leader since World War II." As the Navy's senior officer, he increased the warfighting capabilities of the dwindling U.S. fleet by outfitting remaining ships with more efficient and sophisticated weapons. He retired in 1974. In 1996, he took over as chairman of the board of the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation.
In addition to numerous decorations received from the U.S. Navy, including the Navy Distinguished Service Medal (three awards), the Legion of Merit (two awards) and Bronze Star with combat "V," he received decorations and awards from a number of foreign countries. In 1998, Zumwalt was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service to the United States.
Zumwalt authored two books about his life in the Navy. On Watch (1976) recounts his Navy career and warns Americans about the Soviet naval threat. My Father, My Son (1986), co-authored with his late son, Elmo III, is an account of their Vietnam experiences and his son's tragic illness.
Compared to current U.S. Navy destroyers, the Zumwalt-class destroyer will triple both current naval surface fire coverage, as well as capability against anti-ship cruise missiles. It has a 50-fold radar cross section reduction compared to current destroyers, improves strike group defense 10-fold and has 10 times the operating area in shallow water regions against mines. The Zumwalt class fills an immediate and critical naval warfare gap, meeting validated Marine Corps fire support requirements.
Last year, Congress fully supported the DD(X) budget request, and the Zumwalt class is ready to start construction. In November 2005, the Department of Defense granted Milestone B approval, authorizing entrance into Phase IV of the program, including the detail design and construction of the two lead ships.
Under the Navy's dual lead ship acquisition strategy proposed in the President's budget for fiscal year 2007, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works will concurrently build the dual lead ships. Zumwalt will be delivered in 2012.
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