Just days after the U.S. Navy confirmed it had reached a deal with Bath Iron Works to build the next two DDG-1000s, the service sent further signals that the next-generation destroyer still is important for the surface ship fleet despite cuts to the program.

The Navy this week highlighted a recent trip by Adm. Gary Roughead — the current chief of naval operations (CNO) who cut the DDG-1000 buy by more than half to three ships — to observe live tests of the ship’s Integrated Power System (IPS) at the Land Based Test Site at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Div.’s Ship Systems Engineering Station.

The DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyer will be the first U.S. Navy surface combatant to use electric power for propulsion and ship services. An IPS generates the total ship electric power requirements, then distributes and converts it for all ship needs, including propulsion, combat systems and ship services. The first successful test of the IPS occurred May 11.

The IPS is a “unique design integrating the power system with [combat-related] systems to allow for automatic reconfiguration following damage to the power distribution system,” the Navy notes in a statement. The next test, scheduled for early 2012, will integrate and test portions of the DDG-1000 Engineering Control System software with the IPS to verify software and hardware compatibility.

The Zumwalt is more than half complete and scheduled for delivery in fiscal 2014 with an initial operating capability in fiscal 2016. The second ship, USS Michael Monsoor — DDG 1001 — is about 20% complete.

Roughead says the Navy opted to truncate the Zumwalt class to buy more DDG-51 destroyers for ballistic-missile defense (BMD), although analysts say the DDG-1000s can be modified with relative ease to fulfill the BMD mission.

While the official word from the Navy is that the service will stick with its new Zumwalt-class destroyer fleet plan, sources in the service as well as analysts familiar with Navy planning say a briefing is being put together to present an option for the incoming CNO — Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the current vice CNO — for buying more DDG-1000s.

Besides the IPS, the ship features other cutting-edge technology, including a deckhouse composed of composite materials.

The advancements in ship materials and systems are meant to — among other things — reduce staffing needs and cut down on the overall life-cycle costs for the Zumwalt. Proponents say once the Navy realizes the extent of those savings the service will opt to buy more DDG-1000s.

Detractors, though, continue to point out that the ship has yet to be assembled and tested.