USS Zumwalt, one of the Navy’s new stealth destroyers, visits Japan for the first time

The USS Zumwalt, the lead ship of her class and one of the Navy’s newest destroyers, arrived at Naval Base Yokosuka, Japan, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. (Alex Wilson/Stars and Stripes )

NAVAL BASE YOKOSUKA, Japan ⁠— One of the Navy’s newest warships, the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt, docked at the homeport of the U.S. 7th Fleet this week, marking the first-ever visit of the ship in Asia.

The lead ship of the Zumwalt-class missile destroyers arrived in Yokosuka on Monday for a “routine port call” after spending 13 days at Naval Base Guam, the spokeswoman for Task Force 71 said. Lt. Katherine Serrano at Stars and Stripes.

The Zumwalt arrived in Guam Sept. 6, another first for the ship, said Task Force 71 spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Keiley told the Stars and Stripes by phone Thursday.

The ship’s stay in Guam was considered a working visit, but the sailors also had the chance to visit local attractions, according to a Sept. 19 press release from Task Force 71.

Zumwalt’s arrival in Japan also marks the furthest distance traveled from its home base, Naval Base San Diego, a record previously set in Guam, the statement said.

The USS Zumwalt, the lead ship of her class and one of the Navy's newest destroyers, arrived at Naval Base Yokosuka, Japan on Monday, September 26, 2022.

The USS Zumwalt, the lead ship of her class and one of the Navy’s newest destroyers, arrived at Naval Base Yokosuka, Japan, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. (Alex Wilson/Stars and Stripes )

The Zumwalt’s crew are fully vaccinated and sailors are free to explore Japan provided they adhere to COVID mitigation policies, Serrano wrote in an email Thursday.

“While in Yokosuka, sailors will have the opportunity to enjoy freedom and experience Japanese culture,” she said.

She declined to comment on how long the destroyer will stay or its future destinations as a policy.

“Zumwalt is currently conducting operations and engagements in the Indo-Pacific region,” she said. “DDG 1000 plays a vital role in maintaining our competitive advantage and securing our allies and partners in the region.”

The ship arrived in Japan almost at the same time as Vice President Kamala Harris, who landed at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo on Monday for a four-day visit that includes the former prime minister’s state funeral. Shinzo Abe and visits with Japanese people. Korean heads of state and others.

On Wednesday, the vice president traveled to Yokosuka, where she boarded the destroyer USS Howard, docked next to the Zumwalt, and delivered a speech on the region’s growing tensions with China and North Korea. .

The Zumwalt entered the fleet in April 2019, 2.5 years after it was commissioned in October 2016. Shortly after commissioning, Congress prohibited the Navy from taking delivery of a ship that did not was not fully equipped for its combat capability, according to an April 2020 USNI News report.

The Navy originally planned to put 32 Zumwalt-class destroyers at sea, a number reduced to three as the price of each ship, estimated at $8.1 billion, rose after 2005, according to 2008 and 2018 reports from the Government. Accountability Office.

Originally intended to be used for shore bombardment, the high cost of ammunition for the ships’ original 155mm main armament added to the Navy’s decision in December 2017 to change its mission to surface warfare.

The Navy has since decided to replace the two 155mm guns with tubes capable of accommodating hypersonic missiles, the USNI reported in August.

The destroyer, according to the Navy, is equipped for sea control, power projection, deterrence and command and control missions.

It is designed to operate on the high seas and near the coast.