The Navy on Friday postponed the christening of the biggest and most expensive destroyer ever built because of the government shutdown.
Bath Iron Works will still launch the USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) into Maine’s Kennebec River as scheduled on Oct. 19, but the formal christening ceremony for the 610-foot, $3 billion ship named for the late Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, the former chief of Naval Operations, has been put off indefinitely.
"It is incredibly unfortunate that we are being forced to cancel the christening ceremony for this great warship," said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. "But the ongoing government shutdown prevents us from being able to honor Adm. Zumwalt's memory with a ceremony befitting his and his family's legacy of service to our nation and our Navy."
Ann Zumwalt and Mouzetta Zumwalt-Weathers, the daughters of the late admiral, were the sponsors of the ship and had been scheduled to christen the new destroyer.
The Zumwalt will be the first in what is now a very small class of new and stealthy destroyers. The Navy originally wanted to build 32 of the destroyers but that number was reduced to 24, then to seven, and now to three, because of runaway costs and problems with the radar-deflecting design of the hull.
The next Zumwalt class destroyer will be the Michael Monsoor, the Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in Iraq, and the third and last will be named for former President Lyndon B. Johnson.
“The christening of the Zumwalt is a big deal, but the government shutdown just made it impossible for the Navy to pull off the ceremony next weekend,” Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine., said in a statement. “It was “another example of how the government shutdown is impacting Maine.”
Despite the shutdown, another contract to complete work on the Zumwalt went ahead. Bath Iron Works announced Friday that the Navy had awarded the shipyard a $13.3 million contract to complete work on the deckhouse of the Zumwalt.
The postponement for the Zumwalt was the only ship’s christening that has been delayed during the shutdown, a Navy official said, but the Navy announced Friday that a Wounded Warrior job fair scheduled for Nov. 16 and 17 in Raleigh, N.C., had also been canceled.