The Department of the Navy announced today that the Land Attack Destroyer (DD 21) will be its first class of ships designed and built during the 21st century to be powered by electric drive featuring an integrated power architecture. The first of the DD 21 class of destroyers is expected to be in commission by the end of this decade.
Underscoring the importance of using integrated power technologies, Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig said, "Changes in propulsion systems fundamentally change the character and power of our forces. This has been shown by the movement from sail to steam or from propeller to jet engines or to nuclear power. Electric drive will reduce the cost, noise and maintenance demands of how our ships are driven. More importantly, electric drive, like other propulsion changes, will open immense opportunities for redesigning ship architecture, reducing manpower, improving shipboard life, reducing vulnerability and allocating a great deal more power to warfighting applications."
Major benefits related to electric drive are derived in two areas, warfighting capability and quality of life for sailors. In terms of warfighting, this technology represents significant increases in stealth capability through signature reduction, and a large increase in available power that is seen as critical to future weapons systems that will be aboard Navy ships. Electric drive technology also represents great potential to improve the quality of life for embarked sailors. It will free up large amounts of internal space, leaving room for significant habitability improvements.
The key design element of integrated power and electric drive is a single source generator for the requirements of all ship's power needs, including propulsion. One of the most attractive elements of the design is the resultant elimination of the drive shaft and reduction gears found in traditional Navy ships. The Department of the Navy decision to team DD 21 with electric drive for its propulsion comes after careful consideration among several possibilities studied by the two contractor teams involved.
Secretary Danzig said also, "This is a long sought and much desired goal. DD 21 will truly be the first 'Smart Ship' built from the keel up. Electric drive technology is integral to that. The warfighting and quality of life benefits that can be derived from this will mean that our sailors can walk aboard a ship that is unlike any other they have known... this shift in propulsion reflects our wider efforts to change the very culture of the Navy. With DD 21, Sailors will live, work, and fight aboard a ship that values them like never before."