On Tuesday, the United States Navy announced that it had accepted delivery of its second Zumwalt class stealth destroyer, slated to become the USS Michael Monsoor once it has been commissioned.
Once expected to become the new workhorse platform of the U.S. Navy, the Monsoor is the second of only three Zumwalt class destroyers the branch will take receipt of — a sharp decline from the initial order of 32 ships. The first vessel, also the class’ namesake, Zumwalt, was delivered in May of 2016.
The Monsoor hasn’t truly seen the end of its construction phase, however, as the destroyer will still need to have its combat systems installed — a process the Navy anticipates can be completed within the coming months, though officially, the Monsoor isn’t expected to be fully operational until sometime in 2020. The suite of combat systems yet to be installed include weapons platforms, sensors, and the ship’s communication suite.
“Delivery of DDG-1001 [Michael Monsoor] marks the culmination of years of dedication and hard work from our Navy and industry team,” said Capt. Kevin Smith, the program manager for DDG-1000, in a statement. “We have incorporated many lessons learned from DDG 1000 [Zumwalt] and are proud of the end result. DDG 1001 will be a tremendous asset to the Navy.”
The Monsoor will ultimately be equipped with Raytheon’s SM-6 missiles, a platform that Raytheon claims is the only missile that can be used to engage enemy aircraft and enemy ships as well as serving as a projectile interceptor for ballistic missiles.
“Deployed on cruisers and destroyers in the U.S. Navy, the SM-6 missile provides Joint Force and Strike Force Commanders fleet air defense against all types of aircraft – manned and unmanned; land-attack anti-ship cruise missiles in flight; ballistic missiles in their terminal, or final, stage of flight over land or sea; and targets on the ocean’s surface.” Raytheon claims.
The missile is also considered to be highly cost-effective – as it couples legacy airframe and propulsion systems with an advanced targeting apparatus.
It’s fitting that the Navy would choose to add such a cost effective missile to the Zumwalt class of ships, as the vessels themselves were developed with the intention of including the Navy’s 155mm Advanced Gun System (AGS). The new weapon system was supposed to fire Long-Range Land Attack Projectiles at targets as far away as 80 nautical miles, but as the number of Zumwalt class ships being ordered dwindled, the cost of the advanced projectile skyrocketed. Before the Navy opted to swap in the cost effective SM-6, the Navy was looking at spending a whopping $800,000 per round for the AGS.
However, that switch did force the Navy to reassess its plans for the Zumwalt class of destroyers. Without the AGS, the Navy recently announced a change in mission for the ships — no longer slated to be a land attack platform as initially intended, the Zumwalt destroyers will now serve in anti-ship and ballistic missile strike operations.
The Michael Monsoor is named to honor Navy SEAL Michael Anthony Monsoor, who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his selfless bravery as a Combat Advisor and Automatic Weapons Gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula on 29 September 2006.
According to the Navy citation, Monsoor was one of three SEALs situated atop a roof when an enemy grenade landed nearby. Monsoor was the only one of the three to have a clear means of escape, but instead chose to dive onto the grenade, saving the lives of his teammates in the process.
“Mike was one of the bravest men on the battlefield, never allowing the enemy to discourage him. He remained fearless while facing constant danger, and through his selfless nature and aggressive actions, saved the lives of coalition soldiers and his fellow SEALs. He was a loyal friend and exceptional SEAL, and he is sorely missed by his brothers in Task Unit Bravo.” The Navy statement read.
Images courtesy of the U.S. Navy