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Capt. James Kirk helming Navy’s next generation of destroyers

Mon., Nov. 25, 2013

BATH, Maine – Captain Kirk’s futuristic-looking vessel sports cutting-edge technology, new propulsion and powerful armaments, but this ship isn’t the Starship Enterprise.

The skipper of the stealthy USS Zumwalt is Navy Capt. James Kirk, and yes, he’s used to the jokes about the name he shares with the TV starship commander played by actor William Shatner.

Kirk takes it in stride.

“I don’t take any offense,” he said. “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.”

While it’s no starship, the technology-laden Zumwalt taking shape at Maine’s Bath Iron Works is unlike any other U.S. warship.

The Navy’s largest destroyer – 610 feet long – will feature a composite deckhouse with hidden radar and sensors and an angular shape that minimizes its radar signature. Its unusual wave-piercing hull will reduce the ship’s wake.

It’s the first U.S. surface warship to use electric propulsion, and its power plant is capable of producing enough electricity to light up a small city and to power future weapons like the electromagnetic rail gun.

Inside, it’s just as unique. The number of sailors needed to stand watch will be reduced through the use of cameras and video monitors that show what’s going on outside. The bridge will indeed look like something from “Star Trek” with two chairs surrounded by nearly 360 degrees of video monitors.

It’s due to be christened in the spring.

The Navy skipper points out that his name is actually James A. Kirk, while the fictional Starship Enterprise captain was James “Jim” T. Kirk. But that didn’t stop him from earning the call sign “Tiberius” – the fictional Kirk’s middle name – while working with an aircraft carrier strike group.


 

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