The idea for the mighty Zumwalt, early in development, was to add a line of vessels with long-range support capacity to the roster, able to strike land targets. USNI News noted in August 2023 that Zumwalt began maintenance to be fitted with the in-development Common Hypersonic Glide Bodies (estimated to be completed in 2025). To best fulfill such a role, the Zumwalt destroyers’ development emphasized reducing their vulnerability to attack. This is the first important purpose of its highly unconventional design.
As All Hands magazine reports, “the composite superstructure significantly reduces cross section and acoustic output making the ship harder to detect by enemies at sea.” As a ship equipped with sophisticated surveillance equipment such as its Multi-Function Radar, this class can derive huge benefits from its powerful yet understated design.
Given its intended role, there can be no more important focus for the Zumwalt than locating unfriendly craft while attempting to evade notice itself, and this is one function that its design serves. There’s another key benefit to its design too, though.