Captain Kirk took the Enterprise-B on its first mission too
The USS Zumwalt has begun its sea trials.
The largest destroyer ever built for the U.S. Navy headed out to sea for the first time Monday, departing from shipbuilder Bath Iron Works and carefully navigating the winding Kennebec River before reaching the open ocean where the ship will undergo sea trials.
More than 200 shipbuilders, sailors and residents gathered to watch as the futuristic 600-foot, 15,000-ton USS Zumwalt glided past Fort Popham, accompanied by tugboats.
Bath Iron Works will be testing the ship's performance and making tweaks this winter. The goal is to deliver it to the Navy sometime next year.This is super cool. Though it's becoming prohibitively expensive, the Zumwalt-class destroyer is...wait, hold on...
"We are absolutely fired up to see Zumwalt get underway. For the crew and all those involved in designing, building, and readying this fantastic ship, this is a huge milestone," the ship's skipper, Navy Capt. James Kirk, said before the ship departed.
Captain James Kirk?
Are. You. Kidding? Me?
Did the Navy know this guy was going to be running it out for its sea trials? Is he going to be the actual captain of the ship, or does is he just there for the sea trails?† In Hunt for Red October it's mentioned that Marko Ramius always takes out the first boat of every new sub class, and I don't doubt that Tom Clancy had that fact about the Russian Navy correct. Doesn't the US Navy operate in a similar manner? I can envision the shakedown cruise (which is a different thing) maybe having the same captain, but sea trials might use a specialized commander for the role. So maybe Jim Kirk won't be the captain after all.
Anyways, the Zumwalt (formerly the DD(x) Class) is a pretty cool design, but the decision to drop the order from 32 ships to 3 ships doomed it as any sort of valuable multi-mission platform for the United States Navy to rely on. Instead, it's going to be partly used to defer the overall costs of the new cruiser that will replace the CG(x) class cruiser that was supposed to work in tandem with the Zumwalts. So after spending $9.6B on the Zumwalt and another $1.5B on the CG(x), the U.S. Navy ended up only building three ships at $4.4B each. Cool design, but it is suffering the F-35 project issues: the per-unit costs keep rising and rising, especially as clients keep cutting back the size of their orders and the technology gets more and more expensive to produce.
† On a related Star Trek note this is what always bothered me about people complaining about Captain John Harriman from Star Trek: Generations. A lot of people didn't think he was a great starship captain, and I sort of agree, but unlike much of Trek fandom I'm still unconvinced that Harriman would end up running the Enterprise on actual missions. I always just assumed that his job was to take starships out on their trial runs. After all, the skills to be a full-time deep-space captain has almost no correlation with the skills needed to take a ship on the shakedown cruise. This would, oddly enough, be a good job for Janeway. She's into the engineering thing (remember all those boring-as-shit technobabble scenes with her in Engineering during Star Trek: Voyager's first episodes), so she should be able to help out if the ship doesn't do too well on its shakedown cruise. If Harriman is just the "take the ship out on its first mini trip through the solar system" guy it explains why he's not ready to take the ship into an emergency situation. Photon torpedoes, tractor beams, and medical staff are the sort of things he never has to work with, so what would it matter that he's leaving spacedock without them? I know that there are all sorts of comic books and novels that make reference to Harriman the actual Captain of the ship, but I still never bought it. Also notice Harriman is the go-to-guy every time an author needs a Starfleet Captain to screw something up between the Kirk and Picard eras.