Skip to comments.Scrap heap may be last stop for secret slice of Navy history
Posted on 04/29/2012 7:27:51 AM PDT by SmithL
A secret chapter in American naval research could soon reach an ignoble close when a rusty barge and its once-classified contents leave Suisun Bay for the scrap heap.
Slipping through the sea like a black mirage on catamaran legs, the 164-foot Sea Shadow looks like something Darth Vader might fly. It is the world's only ship built to be invisible, assembled secretly in Redwood City in 1985 by the U.S. Navy and contractor Lockheed Martin at an estimated cost of $50 million.
Sea Shadow's purpose was to test radar-cloaking technology and other naval engineering innovations. Many of its breakthroughs can be seen in present-day Navy warships.
Even at nearly 30 years old, Sea Shadow remains the most radical ship afloat.
"You take the propellers off it and that thing could really double as a spaceship in any science fiction movie," said Bruce Ecker, a San Pedro photographer who has documented the ship. "It looks secret. You want to go and rattle the doorknob on it just to see if you can get in."
Sea Shadow's rise and fall is a rare peek into the vast and complicated workings of the American military industrial machine. It is just one of many marvels hatched by the Pentagon to give the nation an edge in warcraft, then cast aside when the battlefield changed, the money ran out, or the admirals simply wanted to try out something else.
In this case, that quest for an edge produced a ship that really seized the imagination.
Yet Sea Shadow's days are numbered: In an auction set to close Friday, the Navy hopes to find a bidder who will buy the ship merely for its scrap value. This comes after the Navy spent six fruitless years trying to give the ship to a museum.
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No wonder the MERRIMACK (or VIRGINIA) never showed up on radar screens.
Looks a lot like one of the recent Bond villain ships. Don’t recall which one.
A real pity to see it go that way.
A long time ago I war-gamed a way to use the Sea-Shadow as a forward deployed Arsenal Ship. No radiating equipment just receivers and it used other vessels, Air Craft and Satellites for targeting. Of course it was all hypothetical, but still it was fun war-gaming it.
And for those who want to know it was a private naval based wargame using a combination of miniatures and computers for calculation of various factors.
I thought you might be interested in this bit of military history.
The SPECTRE archvillain was played by Kurt Jurgens, his headquarters was a black sea platform, his evil ship swallowed nuclear submarines and I can’t remember the title to save my life!
I recall Popular Science or some such had an artists rendition of this craft back in the day. It was right on the heels of the stealth F-117 and the like.
Here it is in action.
"I'd buy that foh a dorrah!"
That would be media mogul Elliot Carver's stealth ship in "Tomorrow Never Dies".
That looks a lot like the barge that they built the grapple for the Glomar Exploder for Project Azorian. At least they reused something?
That would be a heck of a houseboat on Lake Shasta.
Hard part would be getting it there.
No one would know until you’d done it.
Imagine all that surface area covered with solar panels.
Add a couple of carbon fiber retractable masts and some high tech sails couple with electric motors it could be quite an interesting vessel.
The ship to be on when the Sunburns are streaking in at Mach 3.
There’s an online photo tour here