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The US Navy's brand new $4.4bn destroyer has broken down

Not the best of starts for the USS Zumwalt.

The USS Zumwalt docked in Baltimore before its commissioning ceremony.
The USS Zumwalt docked in Baltimore before its commissioning ceremony.
Image: Patrick Semansky

THE MOST EXPENSIVE destroyer ever built for the Navy suffered an engineering problem in the Panama Canal and had to be towed to port.

A vice admiral directed the USS Zumwalt to remain at ex-Naval Station Rodman in Panama to address the issues, which arose on Monday.

The ship was built at Bath Iron Works in Maine and is on its way to San Diego.

“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 home port in San Diego,” US Third Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry said in a statement.

USNI News, a publication of the US Naval Institute, reported on its website that the ship was in the canal when it lost propulsion.

USNI News also reported that the Zumwalt suffered minor cosmetic damage. The ship had been scheduled to arrive in San Diego by the end of the year to start the activation of its weapon system, the website reported.

Stealth Destroyer The destroyer is designed to be hard to find on radar. Source: Patrick Semansky/PA Images

The 610-foot-long warship has an angular shape to minimise its radar signature and is regarded as the most technologically sophisticated destroyer ever built for the Navy.

One of its signature features is a new gun system that fires rocket-powered shells up to 63 nautical miles.

The Zumwalt cost more than $4.4 billion and was commissioned last month in Maryland. It also suffered a leak in its propulsion system before it was commissioned.

Destroyer Breakdown The USS Zumwalt was making its way through the Panama Canal on its way to San Diego when it broke down. Source: Robert F. Bukaty

The leak required the ship to remain at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia longer than expected for repairs.

The second Zumwalt-class destroyer, which also cost more than $4.4 billion, was christened in a June ceremony during which U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin called it an “extraordinary machine of peace and security.”

The third ship is expected to cost a bit less than $3.7 billion.

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