The Navy learned its lesson concerning the use of aluminum in the construction of ships after some disastrous fires. Of course, they then promptly forgot the lesson and built the LCS out of aluminum. Now, along comes the DDG-1000 Zumwalt and the lesson may or may not have been relearned. Instead of aluminum or steel, the DDG-1000 superstructure is being built of a balsa wood core composite. Yep, wood! And glue!
The following information was taken from an article posted at compositesworld.com. (1)
The wood composite material was selected to meet fire-retardance/fire containment requirements, reduce radar and IR signature and weight, and control construction costs. Apparently, balsa burns more slowly than foam and better insulates the opposite sandwich skin from heat. The 2-3 inch wood core is sandwiched between layers of carbon fiber and vinyl ester with a stainless steel mesh integrated into the external skin, providing electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding and a lightning ground in the otherwise nonconductive panels. The wood composite panels are being applied to the upper four levels of the superstructure (the lower three are steel) and the hangar. Similar materials were used to build the prominent pyramidal mast enclosures on the LPD-17 class.
|DDG-1000 Superstructure - Wood and Glue!|
Whether it turns out to be a success or bust, the DDG-1000 is going to be a very interesting ship to watch over the next several years.
(1) http://www.compositesworld.com/articles/ddg-1000-zumwalt-stealth-warship, DDG-1000 Zumwalt: Stealth warship - U.S. Navy navigates radar transparency, cost and weight challenges with composite superstructure design, Michael R. LeGault,
1/18/2010, Source: Composites Technology