WASHINGTON — The third and final Zumwalt-class destroyer conducted its builder’s trials this week, returning to General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works on Sept. 1 after five days at sea to prove out the ship’s hull.

Lyndon B. Johnson is the final DDG-1000 ship remaining before the Maine shipyard can return its full focus to the Arleigh Burke destroyer program that makes up the bulk of the U.S. Navy’s surface combatant fleet.

“The success of this trial moves us closer to delivering this ship and returning our focus to increasing the pace of DDG 51 construction,” Bath Iron Works President Dirk Lesko said in a news release.

The company has been building Arleigh Burke destroyers since the late 1980s and added the Zumwalt destroyers to the mix in 2011.

Since that time, the shipyard has experienced workforce challenges, including strikes as well as coronavirus-related issues. Lesko told local press last year the yard was a year or more behind schedule on some of its destroyers.

The Zumwalt destroyers, with their complex integrated power system unlike anything the Navy had built before, also ran into production delays, with the service previously expected to receive Lyndon B. Johnson in 2018.

The shipyard has developed a recovery plan to get back on schedule, as Lesko outlined to the Times Record.

“Over the past several months, members of the Joint Schedule Recovery Committee have been working together to identify our production challenges as a shipyard and find solutions to improve our ability to deliver ships on time,” Lesko wrote in a statement to the local paper. “Today, I am excited to announce that we are on track to achieve the three milestones we needed to meet in 2020 to begin schedule recovery across our backlog.”

Once Lyndon B. Johnson’s hull as well as mechanical and electrical systems are fully tested, it will go to Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems for a combat system integration and activation process before finally commissioning as a Navy warship.

In addition to Lyndon B. Johnson, Bath Iron Works is building Arleigh Burke-class destroyers Carl M. Levin, John Basilone, Harvey C. Barnum Jr., Patrick Gallagher, Louis H. Wilson Jr. and William Charette.

Megan Eckstein is the naval warfare reporter at Defense News. She has covered military news since 2009, with a focus on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs and budgets. She has reported from four geographic fleets and is happiest when she’s filing stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumna.

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