Ingalls is building the composite deckhouse and hangar for the DDG 1000 class at the company's Composite Center of Excellence in Gulfport. Made almost exclusively using cored composite construction processes, the deckhouse and hangar take full advantage of the properties of carbon fiber materials and balsa wood cores. When cured, the composite structure is as strong as steel but requires little maintenance and is very lightweight. These unique attributes reduce maintenance cost over the life span of the ship due to its corrosion resistance in the marine environment and allow for improved hull stability, more payload and increased ship speeds. The Gulfport facility also builds composite masts for the Navy's San Antonio (LPD 17) class of amphibious ships.
The deckhouse structure will be integrated to join the other eight of nine "ultra units" making up DDG 1000. This is a process that is similar to the integration process already used with the LPD masts. Steel base plates that are bolted to the composite structure will be welded to the steel hull of DDG 1000. Ingalls delivered the composite hangar and the aft peripheral vertical launch system units for DDG 1000 and has begun work on the composite components for DDG 1001.
"We are incredibly proud of this deckhouse and all the hard work that has gone into making it a reality for the Navy," said Jay Jenkins, site director for Gulfport. "We started this project in January of 2009 and fought our way through all the challenges with professionalism, dedication and commitment, but we do hard things right, and this is proof of that fact."
The DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer is the U.S. Navy's next-generation guided-missile destroyer, leading the way for a new generation of advanced, multi-mission surface combat ships. The ships will feature a low radar profile, an integrated power system and a total ship computing environment infrastructure. Armed with an array of weapons, the Zumwalt-class destroyers will provide offensive, distributed and precision fires in support of forces ashore.Ingalls' Composite Center of Excellence is a world-class composite manufacturing facility capable of building large-scale composite structures for the marine industry. Specializing in vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding for low-cost, large-scale component infusions, the Center of Excellence has more than 18,000 square feet of flat panel molds. It is also home to the world's largest numerically controlled five-axis saw capable of sawing, drilling and milling very large composite components to highly accurate tolerances. Located on 125 acres with access to water, rail and highway transportation links, it has more than 322,000 square feet of manufacturing space (5.6 football fields) with 253,000 square feet (4.5 football fields) that is environmentally controlled. It has the only U.S. Department of Labor Composite Apprentice Program and is a certified OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) STAR Site.