In yet more proof that if one wants to achieve scientific advances one just need go to the military, the USS Zumwalt will be christened in Bath, Maine this Saturday.
The USS Zumwalt is named after Retired Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr., who was once the youngest Chief of Naval Operations in United States history when he took the post in 1970.
Prior to being named to that prestigious post by Richard Nixon, Zumwalt had been awarded a Bronze Star for his actions in World War II at the Battle of Leyte Gulf and later served as Commander Naval Forces Vietnam.
While Zumwalt was a quite decorated solider and naval commander, he is perhaps best known for his attempts to modernize the Navy while serving as the Chief of Naval Operations. "The single most important legacy that he left behind is that he brought the Navy into the 20th century," stated Larry Berman, a biographer of Zumwalt's life.
Zumwalt was able to bring the Navy into the 20th century by promoting social equality in the military, seeking advancement and rights for both women and blacks.
"Zumwalt came in and smashed that entire system. He thought it was a racist system. He felt it was appalling that the Navy had only three black captains," Berman commented.
By the time Zumwalt retired, he was able to see some of his wishes come to fruition. Not only were women and blacks better represented in the Naval crew and in the service, but the Navy also had its first black and female admirals.
Thus, it is only fitting that the department leaders of the USS Zumwalt includes two females, one who is black and one of Hispanic descent.
Besides social progressiveness, however, the USS Zumwalt also offers massive technological innovation.
The USS Zumwalt is the world's largest naval destroyer, measuring in at 610 feet long and weighing 15,000 tons - making the ship nearly double the size of the current largest class of destroyers, the Arleigh-Burke class.
Despite its massive size, the USS Zumwalt takes almost half of a typical crew to operate due to technological innovations. With all of its new-fangled gizmos and gadgets, the USS Zumwalt is almost fully automated.
For instance, if part of the ship catches fire, the electronic systems can deploy the sprinklers, seal all the doors, and drain the leftover water after the coast is clear. And, if danger strikes while the captain is away from his post, the ship contains control modules basically everywhere: "He’s [the captain] got that capability right where he’s at; he doesn’t have to run 600 feet and up multiple levels to get up to where he has to be,” stated Wade Knudson, head of the Zumwalt project.
Along with these nice automation features, the ship also features an advanced radar deterrent design, two Advanced Gun Systems capable of firing missiles up to 63 miles, the ability to create some of its own fuel out of seawater, and the capabilities to host an electromagnetic railgun in the near future.
And if you needed even more assurances that this ship is the ship of the future, one need look no further than the name of the captain of the USS Zumwalt - none other than James Kirk himself.
Image via Wikimedia Commons