Lyndon B. Johnson departs Bath Iron Works down the Kennebec River for sea trials on Friday, August 27. Photo courtesy of Bath Iron Works

The future USS Lyndon B. Johnson, the third and final Zumwalt-class destroyer built by Bath Iron Works, returned to the Bath shipyard Wednesday after five days of sea trials.

According to BIW Program Manager Edward Kenyon, the warship and team aboard the ship “performed particularly well” throughout the trials.

“During the five-day trial, the BIW-Industry-Navy team successfully demonstrated the operational capabilities of all hull, mechanical and electrical systems,” Kenyon wrote in a statement Thursday.

Sea trials allow for the shipyard to test the ship’s systems and identify any issues before the Navy conducts its own tests.

BIW Spokesman David Hench declined to comment on whether any operational issues were found on the ship or, if there were, how long they would take to be corrected. He also declined to reveal whether any future sea trials will be necessary.

“This is an important day for Bath Iron Works,” BIW President Dirk Lesko wrote in a statement issued Thursday. “The success of this trial moves us closer to delivering this ship and returning our focus to increasing the pace of (Arleigh Burke-class destroyer) construction. Achieving this milestone is the result of tireless effort on the part of the BIW-Industry-Navy team who have our gratitude for a job well done.”


At 610 feet long and roughly 81 feet wide, with a displacement of about 15,761 tons, Zumwalt ships are both larger and more expensive than Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, the other type of warship BIW builds. Zumwalts can also reach speeds over 30 knots and has a crew of 158, according to BIW’s website.

Zumwalts have sleek, wave-piercing tumblehome design that, though unique, make the destroyer look much smaller on radar. The ship also features an electric propulsion system and new types of weapons.

The future USS Lyndon B. Johnson is the last of three Zumwalt-class destroyers built by Bath Iron Works. The stealth destroyer left the shipyard for the first time on August 27 for its first round of at-sea trials. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

The Congressional Research Service has estimated that each Zumwalt will cost more than $4 billion to construct, compared to about $1.6 billion for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

Initially, the Navy proposed building 32 Zumwalts at BIW, giving the shipyard’s workforce hope for years of work to come. But as the years wore on, the number of ships ordered was reduced repeatedly. Ultimately, the Navy ordered just three Zumwalt-class destroyers, the last of which is the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson.

Once the Johnson departs Bath permanently, the Arleigh Burke-class will be the only type of vessel constructed at BIW until the Navy designs and awards contracts for the next-generation destroyer.

During a visit to BIW in May, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said BIW will help produce the next class of warship that will succeed the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The Navy is “collaborating right now with BIW and other shipbuilders as we work on the initial design” of that next ship class, he said.


BIW, owned by General Dynamics, laid the Johnson’s keel in January 2017. The ship was christened at the Bath shipyard in April 2019. The destroyer’s homeport will be in San Diego, California.

The vessel is named for former President Johnson, who was John F. Kennedy’s running mate in 1960. Three years later, he was sworn in as president upon President Kennedy’s assassination and held the position from 1963-1969.

Johnson also served as a U.S. Navy Reserve officer before being called to active duty after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served as a lieutenant commander in the South Pacific during World War II and was awarded an Army Silver Star Medal, by General Douglas MacArthur “for gallantry in action in the vicinity of Port Moresby and Salamaua, New Guinea, on June 9, 1942,” according to the Lyndon B Johnson Presidential Library.

After returning from active duty, Johnson reported to Navy leaders and Congress what he believed were unacceptable living conditions for the military and fought for better standards for all military members, according to the Defense Department.

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