At the tail-end of 2023, the US Department of Defense (DoD) allocated additional funds for the modernisation of its Zumwalt-class destroyers (DDG 1000).

Awarding $66.7m as a cost-plus-incentive fee for one of the country’s foremost naval industrial primes, HII, this contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring its cumulative value to $70.7m.

The department states that 95% of the work will occur in Pascagoula, Mississippi – where Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of HII, is based – with the remainder across other locations. The DoD expects completion of this contract modification by September 2025.

Fiscal 2024 other procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $28,905,713 (82%); and fiscal 2024 operation and maintenance (Navy) funds in the amount of $2m (18%), will be obligated at time of award, of which $2m will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

The “largest and most technologically advanced” warships

Zumwalt-class ships are next-generation multi-mission destroyers. These warships strengthen naval power from the sea, according to the contractor Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of HII.

There are three ships in this class, at 610-feet (ft) long and 80ft wide, these Zumwalt ships are 100ft longer and 13ft wider than the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, providing the space required to execute a wide array of surface, undersea, and aviation missions.

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DDG 1000 has a ‘tumblehome’ hull form, a design wherein the hull slopes inward from above the waterline. This significantly reduces the radar cross-section since such a slope returns a much less defined radar image rather than a more hard-angled hull form.

In the last 3-5 years, HII has invested nearly $1bn in the infrastructure, facility and toolsets at Ingalls Shipbuilding enabling its manufacturers, improving product flow and process efficiency, and enhancing product quality.

Modernisation work done thus far

Although the DoD has not disclosed the specific work to be done under this latest contract modification, the DDG 1000 modernisation has stirred the imagination with formidable future weapon systems, such as the Conventional Prompt Strike (CPS) system – a hypersonic missile structure.

DDG 1000 arrived in Pascagoula on 19 August 2023 from San Diego, where the contractor replaced the 155mm twin gun system with the CPS weapon system. USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) will also receive the CPS install at Ingalls during a future modernisation period – perhaps this latest modification.

CPS is a conventional, boost-glide hypersonic weapon system. The all-up-round missile includes a two-stage solid rocket motor booster and a Common Hypersonic Glide Body containing a kinetic energy projectile warhead.

Other modification contracts were also added, including $10.5m awarded to Ingalls in January 2023 for modernisation period planning of DDG 1000 and DDG 1001.

Additionally, Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002) arrived at Ingalls in January 2022 and is undergoing a combat systems activation.