Looking for a new home: Free stealth ship and Mother ship

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Looking for a new home: Free stealth ship and Mother ship

Anybody want some top-secret seagoing vessels? The Navy has a pair it doesn't need anymore. It has been trying to give them away since 2006, and they're headed for the scrap yard if somebody doesn't speak up soon.

One is called Sea Shadow. It's big, black and looks like a cross between a Stealth fighter and a Batmobile. It was made to escape detection on the open sea.

Inside the Sea Shadow
The other is known as the Hughes (as in Howard Hughes) Mining Barge. It looks like a floating field house, with an arching roof and a door that is 76 feet wide and 72 feet high. Sea Shadow berths inside the barge, which keeps it safely hidden from spy satellites.

The barge, by the way, is the only fully submersible dry dock ever built, making it very handy -- as it was 35 years ago -- for trying to raise a sunken nuclear-armed Soviet submarine.

But a gift ship from the Navy comes with lots of strings attached to the rigging. A naval museum, the Historic Naval Ships Association warns, is "a bloodthirsty, paperwork ridden, permit-infested, money-sucking hole..." Because the Navy won't pay for anything -- neither rust scraping nor curating -- to keep museums afloat, survival depends on big crowds. That's why many of the 48 ships it has given away over 60 years were vessels known for performing heroically in famous battles.

Sea Shadow, 160 feet long and 70 feet wide, was the Navy's first experimental stealth ship. Its special coatings, sharp angles and other confidential doohickeys allowed it to baffle radar and sonar. Viewed bow-on, it looks like a squat letter "A" standing on two submerged pontoons for exceptional stability on rough seas.

From the start, Sea Shadow moved at night, towed from its California dock inside its barge and launched onto the open sea to sail on its own in darkness.

S.K. Gupta, now a vice president at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, was in the crew. He recalls watching a glass of Coke on the bridge barely ripple in 12-foot waves. In war games with the Navy off San Diego, he says, "We operated during the night with impunity. We could disappear and sneak up on whomever we wanted. Nobody thought we could do it. A ship is usually hard to hide."

The Navy brought Sea Shadow out of the shadows for daylight tests in 1993, setting off a flash of publicity. It hit the cover of Popular Mechanics. Revell made a plastic model. A mad media mogul used a Sea Shadow look-alike to foment war between Britain and China in a 1997 James Bond movie "Tomorrow Never Dies."

In 2006, its experimental life at an end, Sea Shadow and the barge it was boxed in were struck from the Navy's register and tied up in Suisun Bay, near San Francisco. The technologies it developed have sired a generation of land-attack destroyers and ocean-surveillance ships. "Sea Shadow is the mother of all stealth ships in the world," says Mr. Gupta. It ought to be displayed out in the open on dry land, he thinks, its invisibility visible to all.

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By netchicken: posted on 25-2-2009

No thanks, I already have one and can't give it away either. LOL
By mg.mikael: posted on 14-3-2009

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