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The Navy is about to begin construction of a new destroyer class that could rival or exceed the Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7) frigates as the largest class of surface warships built in the West since World War II.1 Lead ship of the new class, the DDG-51, is planned for authorization in fiscal year 1985 and delivery in 1990. Current Navy planning calls for 63 of these ships to be constructed.
The DDG-51 is a multipurpose destroyer with an emphasis on antiair warfare (AAW). The program was initiated in the mid-1970s, mainly to replace the missile-armed cruisers and destroyers that would be retired from the fleet beginning in the mid-1980s.2 Forty-nine new destroyers were envisioned when the program was begun: 24 ships to operate with nuclear- powered cruisers (CGNs), Ticonder- oga (CG-47)-class Aegis cruisers, and Spruance (DD-963)-class destroyers in 12 carrier battle groups; nine ships to team with CG-47s in three surface action groups (SAGs); eight ships to escort the amphibious forces; and eight ships to help escort replenishment groups.
After informal discussions within the Navy, a formal DDX (later DDGX) study was undertaken from May 1978 to June 1979 to develop the destroyer’s characteristics and systems. The study group’s guidance called for a ship that would be “affordable" in significant numbers and that would be “battle group capable” in strike, antisurface, antiair, and antisubmarine warfare areas. However, AAW was stressed, with the requirement for the ship to have missile magazines sufficient to engage two Soviet air attacks, each consisting of several waves, before the ship had to rearm.
Further, the Chief of Naval Operations tasked the study group with developing a ship with a displacement of 5,500 to 6,500 tons. This stipulation seems to have had two rationales: first, the age-old effort to make a ship smaller and hence cheaper on a per-unit basis; and, second, to avoid the DDGX being competitive with the Aegis "destroyer,” the then-9,000-ton DDG-47 (subsequently redesignated CG-47 on 1 January 1980).
Not specifically stated, but implied from the outset of the study, was a prohibition against advanced-technology designs. Similarly, despite the existence of Title VIII, the congressional legislation dictating that all future battle group-capable escorts be nuclear propelled, that form of ship propulsion was not a factor. The earlier triumph of the DDG-47/CG-47 design over the nuclear strike cruiser (CSGN) or even an improved version of the Virginia (CGN-38)-class cruiser had laid the nuclear escort issue to rest for at least a decade.
Several innovative systems and design concepts were considered for the DDGX, and several would be incorporated into the new ship. While the DDGX study group developed a set of alternative designs, a number of naval officers, defense analysts, and planners of Litton/Ingalls Shipbuilding, the yard constructing the Aegis cruisers as well as the Spruance (DD- 963) and Kidd (DDG-993) classes, were proposing a different approach to the DDGX.
But the fear that a ship based on the Spruance! Kidd designs would be competitive with the Aegis ship prevailed. Also, there were some design developments since the DD-963 had been developed in the mid-1960s. Eventually a smaller ship design was adopted, known as alternative 3A in the DDGX study report. The design adopted, the basis of which was known as alternative 3A in the DDGX study report, is smaller than the Spruance/ Kidd designs and is not based on 1960s’ technology.
As currently configured, the ship has a number of improvements over her predecessors. These include: enhanced protection against the effects • of chemical-biological-radiological (CBR) weapons through an overpressure system; steel superstructure, a lesson relearned after the Belknap (CG-26) collision and fire in 1975; moving the combat direction center— known in days past as the combat information center (CIC)—into the hull for more protection; increasing blast, shock, and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) protection; a distributive or “federated" combat system architecture to enhance survivability and facilitate updating: introducing the advanced AN/UYK-43/44 computers: and a modified hull form for better seakeeping and enhanced volume within displacement constraints. (See Table I for the DDG-51’s characteristics.)
The new destroyer will have a length of approximately 466 feet and a beam of 60-62 feet, compared with a Sprit- ance's length of 563'A feet and a beam of 55 feet. This hull form results in improved seakeeping, especially at cruising speed, over the Spruance. It also gives the new ship about the same internal volume as the Spruance, while having a smaller superstructure, less draft, and less displacement. (Because the change in length-to-beam ratio results in a less efficient hull form from a viewpoint of speed, the DDG- 51’s gas turbines will be uprated to 100,000 horsepower, with a reversible reduction gear and fixed-pitch propellers: this will power the ship at a speed of greater than 30 knots.)
An attempt was made to find an alternative to the RCA AN/SPY-I radar used in the Aegis ship. Eight alternative radars were looked at, but the SPY-ID derivative of the RCA radar was adopted. Apparently, the development of an alternative radar would have further delayed construction of the ship, there were benefits to be derived from using a variant of a radar already in the fleet, and RCA has been able to make significant reductions in the system's size. Similarly, alternatives to the large General Electric AN/ SQS-53 sonar were considered. The decision was made to provide a lightweight version, known as the SQS-53C.
Both as a weight-saving feature and because of the timing in the Navy’s on-again/off-again attitude toward guns, the 3 A ship initially had no guns except for two Phalanx close-in weapon system (C1WS) Gatling-type guns. Subsequently, the design was modified to provide for a single OTO Me- lara 76-mm. antiaircraft gun in addition to the CIWS. More protests from gun advocates led to a further revision to provide a single Mk-45 lightweight 5-inch/54 caliber dual-purpose gun, fitted aft of the superstructure.
More critical for an AAW ship was the question of magazine size. The Spruance derivatives can accommodate either two Mk-26 conventional missile launchers (up to 44 missiles each) or two Ex-31 vertical launch systems (VLSs). each with 61 missiles. Size constraints have led to the decision to fit the DDG-51 with one- and-a-half vertical launchers, for a total of 90 missiles. This meets the CNO's criteria of fighting off two attacks, but marks a 25% reduction from the Spruance hull's potential VLS capability.
Still, the "bottom line" was that the ship was growing in size. The DDG- 51 now displaces some 8,500 tons, exceeding the upper range of the CNO’s original tasking to the DDGX study
ASW weapons: Radars:
Fire control: Electronic warfare:
group by some 2,000 tons. Attempts to reach the higher tonnage required some deletions. The DDG-51 will not have a helicopter hangar. The ship will be fitted with a helicopter platform and will be able to accommodate a LAMPS III (SH-60B) helicopter. The ship will have three Mk-99 missile directors (instead of four as in the CG-47). a thousand miles less cruising range than the CG-47. and no battle group command facilities.
fable 2 Current Surface Combat Force Level Goals
CC,N CG-47 DDG-51 DDG-993 DD-V63 FFIFFG
7 CV Battle Groups 6 (Each 2 CV/CVN)
1 CV Battle Group (Each 1 CV)
4 Surface Action Groups (Each 1 BB)
Underway Replenishment Groups
Table 1 Tentative DDG-51 Characteristics
8,500 tons full load 466 ft. (139.8 m.)
60-62 ft. (18-18.6 m.)
25 ft. (7.5 m.)
4 gas turbines (LM2500); 100,000 s.h.p.: 2 shafts 30+ knots
5,000 nm. at 20 knots 305
landing area only
90-cell VLS for Standard-MR SM-2/Tomahawk/AS- ROC
8 canisters for Harpoon
1 5-in. (l27-mm.)/54 cal. DP Mk-45
2 20-mm. Phalanx CIWS Mk-15 ASROC (vertical launch)
6 12.75-in. (324-mm.) torpedo tubes Mk-32 (triple) (4) SPY-ID phased-array multi-function 1 SPS-67 surface search/navigation SQS-53C bow-mounted SQR-19 towed array
3 Mk-99 illuminators
I Gunfire Control System SLQ-32(V)2 ECM suite SLQ-25 Nixie torpedo countermeasures SRBOC (chaff launchers)
The Navy now plans to initiate the DDG-51 program with the lead ship in
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'See N. Polmar. “Cruisers and Destroyers.” June 1979 Proceedings, pp. 121-122.
:These are the DDG-2. DDG-31. DDG-37. CG- 16. CG-26. CGN-25. and CGN-35 classes.
the fiscal 1985 shipbuilding program. There would then be a one-year “void” in authorizations, after which there will be a buildup to a rate of five ships per year until the force level goal is achieved. A lead yard and two follow yards are now envisioned for the DDG- 51 program. Seven shipyards are in contention for the program:
► Bath Iron Works (ME.)
► Bethlehem (MA.)
► Litton/Ingalls (MS.)
► Lockheed (WA.)
► Newport News (VA.)
► Todd-San Pedro (CA.)
► Todd-Seattle (WA.)
The odds favor Litton/Ingalls. which has built all of the CG-47/DDG-993/ DD-963 ships, as the lead yard for the DDG-51. As for the additional yards to be chosen. Bath Iron Works, which was recently selected as the second source for the Aegis CG-47, could be a frontrunner for one of the two follow-on work sites. When the DDG-51 program reaches peak production rates (five ships per year), the CG-47 line will be cutting back at both Ingalls and Bath.
Beyond Ingalls and Bath, the Todd Pacific shipyards at San Pedro and Seattle are currently constructing modern missile ships (FFG-7s). The San Pedro yard can easily accommodate the larger DDG-51. Todd’s selection would have the advantage of putting a shipyard on the West Coast as an AN/SPY-1 support base, a valuable asset for the Pacific Fleet’s Aegis and DDG-51 ships. Lockheed is also a West Coast yard, but is not now engaged in constructing surface combatants.
At this time, the DDG-51 program goal of 63 ships is 14 more ships than proposed in the DDGX study of three years ago. The additional ships are planned because of the proposed increase in aircraft carriers from 12 to 15, the formation of four SAGs centered on the four Iowa (BB-61 (-class battleships, and an increase in amphibious lift and replenishment groups. (See Table 2.)
A final factor in addressing possible DDG-51 force levels is cost. In many respects, this is the most difficult aspect of the program to address. The OpNav staff offers the following estimates, based on fiscal year 1980 dollars and the average ship cost for ten follow-on ships: $850 million per CG- 47 and $620 million per DDG-51. a 239f differential. However, the current five- year shipbuilding plan shows a DDG- 51 in fiscal year 1987. the first multiship authorizations, costing as much if not slightly more than the 24th CG- 47. These costs are derived by different offices, sometimes using different data bases. But Congress looks at procurement costs over the five-year period. and despite certain design advantages over the CG-47. it is not clear to all participants in the defense debates that the DDG-51 is "cost-effective" in view of the ship's reduced missile and gun firepower and lack of LAMPS.
The DDG-51. however, will incorporate several innovations not incorporated in the CG-47 and other possible Spruance derivatives. Also, the limited numbers of cruisers and destroyers constructed in the 1970s and early 1980s. the delays in initiating the DDG-51 program, and the large number of cruisers and destroyers being retired in the next two decades demand that the DDG-51 program be undertaken as soon as possible.