PANAMA CITY, Florida (NAVY TIMES) -- The new, high-tech destroyer Zumwalt suffered an engineering casualty Monday evening while passing through the Panama Canal and had to be towed to a berth, the Navy said.
The 3rd Fleet in San Diego was able to provide only a few details late Monday evening, but early reports indicated the problems stemmed from an issue with heat exchangers in the ship’s integrated power plant, which provides electrical power to both the propulsion plant and sensors, weapons and ship’s services.
Third Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry issued a statement late Monday:
“Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander, US Third Fleet, has directed USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) to remain at ex-Naval Station Rodman in Panama to address engineering issues that occurred while transiting the Panama Canal. The timeline for repairs is being determined now, in direct coordination with Naval Sea Systems and Naval Surface Forces. The schedule for the ship will remain flexible to enable testing and evaluation in order to ensure the ship's safe transit to her new homeport in San Diego.”
The casualty occurred as the Zumwalt was passing through the lower half of the canal, and the ship was towed through the Miraflores locks at the southern, or Pacific end, to Rodman, a former U.S. base once known as the Balboa Naval Station. The ship is en route to its home port of San Diego.
The Zumwalt was commissioned Oct. 15 in a ceremony at Baltimore, having left its builder’s yard at Bath, Maine, on Sept. 7. The ship’s crew has been dealing with a series of relatively minor incidents, including a seawater leak in a shaft lube oil system in September and, reportedly, several engineering issues while the ship was at Mayport Naval Station in Florida in late October.
The ship’s integrated power system is a new layout that uses advanced induction motors to produce up to 78 megawatts of electrical power, far more than any previous destroyer or cruiser.
Once at San Diego, the Zumwalt will enter an extended industrial period to complete the installation of its combat system -- a job expected to continue through most of 2017.