Midshipmen from the BU-MIT Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) unit travelled to the Bath Iron Works shipyard for the christening of USS Zumwalt, the lead ship in a brand new class of destroyers. The ship, named after Admiral Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, represents a technological leap forward for the US Navy’s surface fleet. With an emphasis on stealth technology, lessened crew requirements, and advanced weaponry, the innovation of this cutting edge vessel bears tribute to its namesake.
Admiral Zumwalt, the youngest CNO in Navy history (49), became legendary for his forward-thinking policies towards sailor’s rights, particularly female sailors and sailors of color. Amongst many other policy changes, his changes gave females the right to become naval aviators and Filipinos the right to work in rates other than just the steward’s rate.
Admiral Zumwalt’s son, Lt. Col. James Zumwalt (USMC Ret.) commented to the new commanding officer of USS Zumwalt, “Captain James Kirk, you have a lot of my dad in you.”
He charged the new CO to command with strength and to mold the soul of the new ship, as he was responsible for the development of the life and character of the ship. His charge to the captain set the tone for the afternoon, as speakers applauded the incredible work of Admiral Zumwalt, and encouraged the new crew of DDG-1000 to bring that same zeal and passion to their new ship.
The ceremony started off with general introductions from the President of Bath Iron Works and the governor of Maine. Following the governor, an impressive set of lead speakers gave their own remarks, including the Honorable Susan Collins and Angus King, Maine’s two senators; Admiral Mark Ferguson, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations; and various members of the Zumwalt family. The Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, was the principal speaker.
After the speakers, Ann and Zouzetta Zumwalt, daughters of Admiral Zumwalt, accompanied Captain James Kirk to the bow of the ship, where they broke champagne bottles across the bow and officially christened the ship. The spilled champagne, a volley of streamers, and a large round of applause officially brought the USS Zumwalt to life.
Following the ceremony, the midshipmen had a chance to walk along the pier, examining the new ship in closer detail and mingle with the officers present. There were light refreshments served and opportunities to see parts of DDG-1001, still under construction in the shipyard. The USS Michal Monsour (DDG-1001) will be the second ship in the Zumwalt class. Its unassembled hull sections provided an unadulterated look into the construction of these modern warships and gave a unique perspective to the construction process.
Midshipman Vadim Reytblat in particular enjoyed seeing DDG-1001 under construction. “Seeing the exposed cross-sections of DDG-1001 was truly awesome, particularly as a mechanical engineering student who’s studied construction and design.”
USS Zumwalt has a long way to go before it is fully turned over to the US Navy for sea trials and commissioning, but the christening was a landmark event in the progression of this project, and the midshipmen of the BU-MIT NROTC Consortium were extremely pleased to have had the opportunity to share in the celebration.
Midshipman 2nd Class Andrew Bates enjoyed the ceremony, saying, “The Zumwalt christening was a remarkable experience. We were in the presence of our country’s leaders, both civilian and military, next to the world’s most technologically advanced surface vessel. This was certainly not your average Saturday morning for a college student!”
Written by: MIDN 2/c David Forsey