Capt. James Kirk understands the universal challenges of command.
He also understands why people play name games with him.
That’s because he’s not the commander of the Starship Enterprise, the pride of the 23rd century Federation fleet.
He’s the skipper of the 21st century Zumwalt, which will be the largest destroyer in the U.S. naval fleet — scheduled to be the first of three of its kind.
Though the Zumwalt won’t have a molecular transporter and other space-age gadgetry found on the Enterprise, it will feature remarkable gizmos of its own.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and journalists last week toured the ship, now under construction at the Bath (Maine) Iron Works. The Associated Press later reported that the Zumwalt, due to be christened in the spring, “will feature a composite deckhouse with hidden radar and sensors and an angular shape that minimizes its radar signature.”
And: “It’s the first U.S. surface warship to use electric propulsion, and its power plant is capable of producing enough electricity to light up a small city and to power future weapons like the electromagnetic rail gun.”
No, that electromagnetic rail gun isn’t the same as the phaser sidearm carried by Capt. James Kirk (played to the emotionally charged hilt by William Shatner) and his comrades of the fictional future.
And no, the real Capt. James Kirk doesn’t mind being teased about his commanding name, telling the AP: “If it’s a helpful moniker that brings attention to help us to do what we need to do to get the ship into the fleet and into combat operations, then that’s fine.”
But the 1990 Naval Academy graduate does stress that he’s Capt. James A. Kirk, while the Enterprise boss is James T. Kirk.
The real Capt. Kirk also rightly emphasizes that while his ship’s “wonderful technology” is a grand asset, “it still requires the sailors who are going to bring her to life.”
So as Capt. Kirk and his crew wait to boldly go seaward on a ship where no man (or woman) has gone seaward before, let America’s enemies beware that the 610-foot-long Zumwalt will pack a powerful, high-tech punch.
And let America’s taxpayers hope the Zumwalt is worth its high-stakes cost of more than $3.5 billion.