Navy Plans to Scrap First Experimental Stealth Ship

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Published June 18, 2011

| FoxNews.com

Remember the Sea Shadow -- the James Bond-style, super-stealthy ship that the Navy decided to get rid of after two decades of experimentation? The plan was to salvage the ship by getting someone to buy it and put it on display, but after spending five years searching and over $100,000 in maintenance since the search began, the Navy has given up hope of finding any museum willing to take it.

Navy spokesman Chris Johnson told FoxNews.com the ship's fate is all but sealed: To the junk heap it will go.

"The next disposition is dismantling and recycling," he said.

Johnson said that from 2006 until this year, the Navy made the Sea Shadow available for donation. "While several letters of interest were received, only one organization submitted an application, which was determined to be non-viable,” he said.

The ship is perhaps best known as the inspiration for the stealth ship in the 1997 James Bond film, "Tomorrow Never Dies." Johnson said he couldn't give a time frame for its actual demise, but he said the decision is based on the lack of interest from any viable taker. “A ship that pristine is too expensive,” Johnson said.

The Sea Shadow, made in secrecy, stored in secrecy and constructed for secrecy, once cost the United States Navy $195 million to build and operate. 

Completed in 1985 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Lockheed Martin, it was the Navy’s first experimental stealth ship. The Sea Shadow is 160 feet long and 70 fee wide, has a maximum speed of 14 knots and has the ability to operate in Sea State 5 conditions, or winds from 17 to 21 knots. But it was never intended for missions, just for testing.

“The craft was built to examine application of stealth technology on naval missiles,” Johnson said.

The exact condition of the vessel is unclear.The Sea Shadow now berths inside the rusting hulk of the Hughes Mining Barge, a fully submersible dry dock at the Navy's Mole Pier in San Diego, Calif. The dry dock -- something else the Navy is also trying to give away -- keeps the ship safely hidden from spy satellites and from public view.

A Lockheed Martin spokesman told FoxNews.com that the company hasn’t had anything to do with the ship for “at least four to five years," meaning that there has been no upkeep or maintenance completed since then.

At just 26 years old, the ship could be saved by a last-minute taker, Johnson said, but more likely, a ship-dismantling company will come and sell the metal on the open market, and then it could be reused for just about anything.

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