At 80, shipyard skipper to step back after Zumwalt trials

BATH, Maine (AP) — The Navy's newest destroyer has benefited from an old salt. Eighty-year-old Captain Earl Walker extended his contract at Bath Iron Works to ensure he'd pilot the $4.5 billion Zumwalt through three sea trials. Guiding the first-in-class ship down the Kennebec River was one of...

BATH, Maine (AP) — The Navy's newest destroyer has benefited from an old salt.

Eighty-year-old Captain Earl Walker extended his contract at Bath Iron Works to ensure he'd pilot the $4.5 billion Zumwalt through three sea trials.

Guiding the first-in-class ship down the Kennebec River was one of the biggest challenges.

The river's tricky currents and twisting turns leave little margin for error. Walker said the 610-foot Zumwalt cleared the river bottom with less than 2 feet to spare. The Zumwalt is the Navy's biggest destroyer and weighs in at 15,000 tons.

Those days are probably over for Walker. His contract ends in July before the Zumwalt leaves Bath for its final home. He said he'd like to keep on working but "time catches up with you."

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