USS Zumwalt high tech stealth destroyer
The US Navy's largest ever destroyer, an all-electric warship full of hi-tech features, is ready for testing on the open seaScetoaux, Wikimedia Commons

A next-generation stealth warship that is the largest destroyer ever designed for the US Navy is finally ready to go out to sea for testing from where it was built in Bath, Maine, featuring a host of state-of-the-art features.

The USS Zumwalt cost $4.3bn (£2.87bn) and took over four years to build. It is the US Navy's very first all-electric warship, measuring 600ft in length and weighing 15,000 tonnes. It comes with futuristic technologies including electric propulsion, radar and sonar, as well as powerful missiles and guns.

Its odd futuristic design is meant to make it stealthier so it reduces its radar signature to be less detectable to enemies, with the design making it 50 times harder to spot than other destroyers and causing it to look more like a regular fishing vessel than a huge warship.

The USS Zumwalt is unique in that it has advanced automation for many of its functions in order to enable the warship to function with only half the crew than current destroyers require.

It is also unusual in its focus on improved energy efficiency being environmentally friendly – the destroyer harvests hydrogen and carbon dioxide from ocean water and converts it into fuel in its very own 78-megawatt power plant on-board the ship.

The US Navy is planning to equip the USS Zumwalt with the latest in hi-tech military equipment, including a drone-targeting laser and an electromagnetic rail gun projectile launcher that fires projectiles at speeds of over Mach 7 – seven and a half times the speed of sound with a range of 125 miles.

The USS Zumwalt is one of three destroyers in its class that the US Navy plans to build and it is large enough to carry several helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

Matthew Leonard, spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command office in Washington, DC, told the Portland Press Herald the sea trials will be used to demonstrate the ship's hull, mechanical and electrical systems during what he described as a "multiday underway period", which will enable the Navy to identify issues and mitigate risks to the new warship before it goes into service.