Warship Technology: July/August 2020
In June 2020, the US Navy and GE’s Power Conversion business announced the ‘delivery’ to the US Navy of the destroyer USS Zumwalt, which they described as its first full-electric power and propulsion ship.
GE’s Power Conversion business was the designer and provider for the high-voltage system, propulsion drive trains, consisting of multiphase converters and advanced induction motors (AIM), for the DDG 1000 class destroyers.
“Delivery is an important milestone for the US Navy as the DDG 1000 continues more advanced at-sea testing of the Zumwalt combat system,” said Captain Kevin Smith, DDG 1000 programme manager, in a US Navy statement.
“The combat test team, consisting of the DDG 1000 sailors, Raytheon engineers, and US Navy field activity teams, have worked diligently to get USS Zumwalt ready for more complex, multi-mission at-sea testing.”
The electric propulsion solution for the vessel was designed to deliver ‘efficiency, cost-of-ownership reductions, and system redundancy for enhanced vessel safety,’ GE said. ‘In addition, the machinery layout is more flexible and configurable for containment and isolation.”
With 72MW of propulsion power, GE’s Integrated Full Electric Propulsion system comprises all shipboard electrical power generation and propulsion including the propulsion motor, VDM25000 variable speed drives, switchboards, and HV equipment.
Zumwalt was commissioned into service on 15 October 2016, although its delivery date was revised in the US Navy’s FY2018 budget submission to May 2018, and revised further in a FY2019 budget submission to December 2018, creating an unusual situation in which a ship was commissioned into service more than two years prior to its delivery date.
Shortly after it was commissioned, the vessel broke down whilst transiting the Panama Canal and has faced many cost overruns and delays.
The delivery dates for the second and third ships were revised in the FY2018 budget submission to May 2020 and December 2021, respectively, and were revised further in the FY2019 budget submission to September 2020 and September 2022, respectively.