The U.S. Navy’s next-generation destroyer — the DDG-1000 USS Zumwalt — took a major step closer to becoming a proper ship this month when the composite deckhouse was mated to the hull.

The Navy touts the vessel as the technological future for the service. It features not only the unique deckhouse but also a new destroyer design and propulsion system.

Tailored for sustained operations in the littorals and land attack, the multimission destroyer will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces, and operate as an integral part of joint and combined expeditionary forces, according to the Navy.

Fabricated by Huntington Ingalls Industries in Gulfport, Miss., the 1,000-ton deckhouse was transported to Bath, Maine for integration with the ship’s hull, which is under construction at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works.

The deckhouse is built from steel and composite materials and measures 155 ft. long and more than 60 ft. high, housing the ship’s bridge, radars, antennas and intake and exhaust systems.

“This is a major milestone for the program as this ship construction progresses,” says Capt. Jim Downey, DDG-1000 class program manager at Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “The successful integration of the deckhouse and hull is a testament to the tremendous design and planning efforts that were instrumental to this program.”

With the successful lift and integration of the deckhouse, nine of nine ship “ultra units” are now on land level at BIW.

“The industry/government team meticulously planned the 100-ft. static lift of the deckhouse and translation of the 610-ft. hull into position under the deckhouse,” Downey says. “The deckhouse was then lowered into position and the resulting ship moved back into the construction position on the land level facility.”

Construction on DDG-1000 began in February 2009 and is currently 80% complete, with ship launch and christening planned for 2013. The ship is scheduled for delivery in 2014 with an initial operating capability in 2016.

Zumwalt will displace about 15,000 tons, and will have a crew of 130 officers and sailors plus an air detachment.

Progress on the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class guided missile destroyers continues to go very well, the Navy says, with all three ships now under construction. Construction on the second ship of the class, DDG-1001 Michael Monsoor, began in 2010 with delivery planned in 2016. DDG-1002, the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson, is slated for delivery to the Navy in 2018.