Naval Destroyer Commissioned During Fleet Week Breaks Down in Panama

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USS Zumwalt Courtesy U.S. Navy
USS Zumwalt Courtesy U.S. Navy

Remember the sleek-looking USS Zumwalt from Fleet Week? That same naval destroyer hasn’t had the best month since being commissioned here in Baltimore.

The last time (and only) time Baltimoreans saw the ship, it was being commissioned into the U.S. Naval fleet on Oct. 15. Since then, it’s left and cruised down the coast, past Central America and down to Colombia before coming back up to head home to its new home base in San Diego.

However, yesteday, U.S. naval officials reported that the ship had to be towed to port while passing through the Panama Canal. According to the U.S. Naval Institute’s news service, the vessel had a problem with its propulsion system while passing through the canal, causing water to intrude into bearings connected to motors, which are connected to the ship’s drive shafts. Long story short, the ship locked up and had to be towed into a former U.S. Naval Station in Panama.

To add to the Zumwalt‘s woes, the ship also suffered some minor cosmetic damage after colliding with the lock walls on its way through the canal.

A defense official told the Naval Institute’s news service it could be up to 10 days before the ship is ready to head back out to sea to complete its journey to home base in San Diego.

Apparently, this isn’t the ship’s first engineering issue. USNI reported that a similar problem popped up in September while the Zumwalt was on its way from Maine to Norfolk, weeks before it arrived here in the harbor. That led to some extra dockside time in Norfolk. Then, after leaving Baltimore, the ship apparently had an another unspecified issue near a naval station in Mayport, Fla.

It seems the Navy has some mechanical problems to resolve deep within the ship. Once those issues are fixed, it can get back on track to activating the $4.4 billion ship’s world-class weapon system and so it can be battle-ready within a couple years.

Ethan McLeod
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