Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, November 25, 2013
It may not be the starship Enterprise, but the U.S. Navy’s newest, futuristic-looking vessel is indeed commanded by a Captain James Kirk.
According to The Associated Press, Navy Capt. James Kirk will be leading the U.S.S. Zumwalt, which is currently being built at Maine’s Bath Iron Works facility. The ship, which is the first of its kind, will be the largest destroyer in the Navy’s fleet and will feature a composite deckhouse with hidden radar and sensors and an angular shape to minimize its radar signature. The ship will also be the first to use electric propulsion and will have an on-board power plant capable of producing enough electricity to power a small city and weapons like the electromagnetic rail gun.
The real-life Captain Kirk isn’t bothered by the comparisons or jokes, however.
“I don’t take any offense,” he told the AP in an interview last week. “If it’s a helpful moniker that brings attention to help us to do what we need to do to get the ship into the fleet and into combat operations, then that’s fine.”
That’s important, considering the ship’s inside will feature a bridge reminiscent of that used in the 1960s TV show (and subsequent movies), containing two chairs surrounded by nearly 360 degrees of video monitors. The ship is also heavily automated, thus reducing the number of sailors needed to operate it by nearly half.
The comparisons don’t end there, as it was “Star Trek” actor George Takei who publicized the similarities in the two captains’ names on Facebook. The living Kirk told the AP that he has been teased about his name since he graduated from Annapolis in 1990, joking that colleagues couldn’t wait until he reached the rank of captain.
Unfortunately, Captain Kirk’s middle initial is “A”, not “T” like William Shatner’s alter ego. The Zumwalt’s soon-to-be leader does go by the call sign “Tiberius,” however.
The cost of producing a ship like the Zumwalt, which is set to be christened next spring, is more than $3.5 billion – a price tag so high that the Navy was forced to reduce its original order of ships in the series to just three.
h/t Associated Press