Item No.: Dragon 7029

modern sea power series

The Arleigh Burke class is among the largest destroyers built in the United States. Only the Spruance and Kidd classes of destroyers were longer (563 ft), but, the Burke class destroyers are more heavily armed than previous guided-missile destroyers. The mission of the Burke class is significantly different from the Spruance class. The larger Ticonderoga class ships were constructed on Spruance class hullforms, but are designated as cruisers due to their radically different mission and weapons systems.

The Arleigh Burke's designers incorporated lessons learned from the Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruisers. The Ticonderoga class cruisers were supposedly becoming too expensive to continue building and too difficult to upgrade. Visually, the angled rather than traditional vertical surfaces and the tripod mainmast of the Arleigh Burke design are part of '' steahlt '' technologie which improve the ship's ability to evade and/or destroy anti-ship cruise missiles.

With the Arleigh Burke class, the US Navy also returned to traditional all-steel construction. Combining a steel hull with an aluminum superstructure had been an innovation to reduce topweight, but the lighter metal proved vulnerable to cracking. Aluminum is also less fire-resistant than steel. A 1975 fire aboard USS Belknap gutted her aluminum superstructure. Later battle damage to Royal Navy ships during the Falklands War supported the decision to employ a steel superstructure.

A Collective Protection System makes the Arleigh Burke class the first U.S. warships designed with an air-filtration system against nuclear, biological and chemical warfare.

So vital has the Aegis Ballistic Missle Defense System (BMD) role of the class become that all ships of the class are being updated.

In 1980 the US Navy initiated design studies with seven contractors. By 1983 the number of competitors had been reduced to three; Bath Iron Works, todd Shipyards and Ingalls Shipbuilding. On 3 April 1985 Bath Iron Works received a US$321.9 million contract to build the first of class, USS Arleigh Burke. Gibbs & Cox was awarded the contract to be the lead ship design agent. The total cost of the first ship was put at US$1.1 billion, the other US$778 million being for the ship's weapons systems. She was laid down by the Bath Iron Works at Bath, Maine, on 6 December 1988, and launched on 16 September 1989 by Mrs. Arleigh Burke. The Admiral himself was present at her commissioning ceremony on 4 July 1991, held on the waterfront in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. 

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