The US Navy has been forced to temporarily retire USS Zumwalt, its most advanced warship, due to a major malfunction.
The $4.4 billion guided missile destroyer broke down for unknown reasons on Monday while it was crossing the Panama Canal and remained there for damage assessments.
“The timeline for repairs is being determined now,” US Navy Commander Ryan Perry told CNN in a statement on Wednesday.
He noted that the warship was directed by the commander of the US Third Fleet, Vice Admiral Nora Tyson to stay at ex-Naval Station Rodman in Panama until the cause of the malfunction was determined.
The Zumwalt was on its way to its home port of San Diego, California, where it would join the US Third Fleet and perform missions in the Pacific Ocean.
Debuted in May, the ship introduced a new class of warships that the Pentagon boasted were going to be the most advanced vessels ever built.
The warship features a futuristic angular design, which reportedly makes it 50 times more difficult to detect on radar.
The Zumwalt concept was first picked up by Navy officials over 15 years ago. However, high costs forced the Pentagon to cut down the projected fleet size to 3, much less than the initial 32 ships planned to be built.
According to the General Accounting Office (GAO), the program is expected to cost more than $22 billion.
The project’s sluggish progress along with its rising costs drew criticism from GAO, which complained that the Navy was trying to incorporate too many new technologies into the ship.
Tug boats maneuver Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald Ford into the James River during the ship’s Turn Ship evolution, Virginia, June 11, 2016. (Photo by US Navy)
The US Navy has also faced backlash over its other extravagant projects such as the USS Gerald Ford aircraft carrier and the Littoral Combat Ship program.
Projected to cost around $13 billion, the new technologies fitted into the Gerald Ford aircraft carrier are likely to fail to perform as promised, Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall warned in late October.
As for littoral combat ships (LCS), Rear Admiral Peter Fanta, the Navy’s director of surface warfare, has admitted that the 6-ship program was a strategic mistake that sacrificed speed in favor of firepower.
Four of the Navy’s LCSs have suffered engineering or design issues in less than a year.