Titan of stealth: US Navy's largest-ever destroyer shows on radar as a tiny fishing boat
The USS Zumwalt is 610ft long, weighs 15,000 tons and cost $4.4 billion to build
The largest destroyer ever built for the US Navy cut an imposing figure as it drifted down the Kennebec River in Maine and toward the open ocean on Monday.
The USS Zumwalt, a 610-foot, 15,000-ton behemoth, will undergo sea trials before joining the US fleet some time next year.
Its pricetag of $4.4 billion is almost as astounding as its bulk, but Navy Captain James Kirk, the ship's skipper, said he was "fired up" for the Zumwalt to finally set off for the Atlantic Ocean.
"We are absolutely fired up to see Zumwalt get under way. For the crew and all those involved in designing, building, and readying this fantastic ship, this is a huge milestone," he said.
So advanced are the Zumwalt's stealth capabilities, that it registers on radar as a small vessel, about the size of a fishing boat.
It is about 100ft longer and 20ft wider than the navy's current class of destroyers, and boasts more advanced weaponry.
Its computer-guided missile system can hit targets up to 63 miles away, and it may eventually be equipped with a laser weapon or electromagnetic rail gun.
Technological improvements also mean Zumwalt can be operated with a crew less than half the size what would previously have been needed for such a massive ship.
Kelley Campana, an employee of Bath Iron Works, where the ship was built, told the Associated Press that she had goose bumps and tears in her eyes as she watched the launch.
"This is pretty exciting. It's a great day to be a shipbuilder and to be an American," she said. "It's the first in its class. There's never been anything like it. It looks like the future."
The ship is named for Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, a decorated Naval officer who died in 2000.
There are plans to build two more ships to complete what will be known as the Zumwalt class.