BATH — As the Zumwalt (DDG 1000) goes out for sea trials next week, local residents may try to get a glimpse of the 15,760-ton vessel as it leaves Bath Iron Works.

Brian Murray, park manager at Popham Beach State Park, said people have often flocked to the beach to watch ship movements in the past.

“People come out and watch the launches go out,” Murray said on Wednesday. “There’s a pretty good crowd, and … it’s usually at Fort Popham. Sometimes they take pictures.”

Barry Craig, facilities director at Maine Maritime Museum, also said BIW-built ships have been seen going down the Kennebec River from Washington Street, and that people have gathered at the museum to watch these vessels go by in previous years.

“There’s only one way for that ship to go, and they have to come by the museum,” Craig said.

He also noted that The Plant Memorial Home, the South End boat launch and the Town Landing on Commercial Street would be good spots to catch sight of the destroyer as it goes off for trials.

Nathan Lipfert, senior curator at the museum, said the museum has also hosted events in the past to celebrate sail aways — when a ship is officially delivered to the Navy.

He also shed some light as to why there may be more interest in these vessels than there have been in the past.

“It takes longer to build these incredibly complicated vessels that are being built today,” Lipfert said. “Years ago, it was happening all the time. It was happening every 17 days or so.

“I wonder if it has something to do with being at war, and also the launching process and the ceremony itself hasn’t recently been as well publicized … so people are expressing their interest,” he added. “There have been vessels built here in the past 30 years that have been damaged at war and fought in war, which was not really the case when I was a kid in the 1960s.”

The DDG 1000 is the first of three Zumwalt-class ships to be built at the Bath shipyard. The sea trials will demonstrate many of the ship’s major hull, mechanical and electrical systems next week, according to Matthew Leonard, public affairs specialist of the Navy Sea Systems Command.

The ship has also undergone a “fast cruise” earlier in October and November to prepare for next week’s sea trials.

After the trials, the vessel will return to the shipyard before it leaves for its home port in San Diego, where the ship’s mission systems will be installed.

filed under: