BATH, Maine (AP) — Bath Iron Works is getting ready to bring fuel aboard the Navy's biggest destroyer in preparation for firing up some of the world's largest marine turbines this summer.
Shipbuilders will be working methodically in the coming weeks to bring JP-5 military-grade jet fuel aboard the ship and flush the systems before lighting off the turbines and activating the ship's high-tech electrical systems. It's a complicated process for the first-in-class Zumwalt.
"Because it's the lead ship, we're doing everything in a very deliberate and painstakingly accurate and detailed way," shipyard spokesman Jim DeMartini said.
Those turbines — similar to units in the Boeing 777 — won't propel the ship. They'll provide the grunt for generators that produce electricity that drives the ship.
Around the world, there are other electric-drive warships. But this is the first time the U.S. Navy has built a surface combatant using electric propulsion since a line of destroyer escorts in the 1940s.
For now, the Zumwalt remains a work in progress.
On a recent day, shipbuilders worked throughout the 610-foot-long vessel, testing various systems using land-based electricity. There were wires dangling, false ceilings, and tools and portable equipment throughout the interior.
Rolls-Royce modified its Boeing 777 turbo fan engines, each of them enclosed with an automated fire suppression system deep in the belly of the ship. Banks of high-voltage electrical switches and voltage converters lend the appearance of a power plant.