BATH, Maine – The largest and most expensive destroyer ever built for the U.S. Navy once headed to sea in a snowstorm during builder trials. Now, it's heading into the remnants of a tropical storm as it leaves Maine for good.
The skipper is watching the weather as the stealthy Zumwalt destroyer prepares to depart from Bath Iron Works on Wednesday en route to its commissioning in Baltimore, and then to its homeport in San Diego.
Capt. James Kirk said what's left of former Hurricane Hermine was creating some strong waves in the North Atlantic, but he said it wouldn't prevent the ship from departing from the Navy shipbuilder.
He said sailors enjoyed their time training while the ship was being built, but now it's time to get down to business.
"It's time for us to do our job at sea," he said.
The 610-foot destroyer may have some port visits en route to its formal commissioning ceremony next month.
The sleek warship looks like no other ship in the fleet.
It features an angular shape to minimize its radar signature, an unconventional wave-piercing hull, electric propulsion and a composite deckhouse that hides the radar and sensors. It boasts a powerful new gun system that fires rocket-powered shells up to 63 nautical miles.
There are inevitable lighthearted comparisons of the futuristic-looking ship to the Starship Enterprise and the skipper to the mythical Captain Kirk.
The real Kirk, who was named for his grandfather, is used to the Starfleet jokes.
"Certainly I have been ribbed every now and then with someone saying, `Yes, you're going where no man has gone before, on this class of ship,"' Kirk joked, referring to the line from the "Star Trek" TV series.