Well That’s It: The US Navy is Scrapping the Bay Area’s $200 Million Super Secret Stealth Ship – R.I.P. Sea Shadow

The United States Navy has given up on the idea of giving away to a good home the formerly spr sekrt stealth ship Sea Shadow. That means that this expensive piece of Bay Area military memorabilia will soon be cut up for scrap.

Oh well.

Good bye, IX-529.

But we’ll always have memories, like right here – check it out, from back in the day last year.

All the deets:

Remember back in the day, back when Bay Areans could espy the straight-outta-Redwood-City $200-million Sea Shadow stealth ship bobbing about in San Francisco Bay? Check this video from down Fun Diego way over at Telstar Logistics to see this baby in action.

Say it aloud: Super-Secret Sea Shadow Stealth Ship, Super-Secret Sea Shadow Stealth Ship, Super-Secret Sea Shadow Stealth Ship! This project was so secret that it didn’t make the Bay Area newspapers, excepting for 1999 when this boat was identified as an airplane three times by the San Francisco Examiner.*

This is what she looked like, coming out in the daytime when she was no longer so very supr sekrt:

Guess what, the U.S. Navy wants to give her away for free! The problem is that there are no takers as of yet, so the ex Sea Shadow just sits around in the mothballed Ghost Fleet of the East Bay. Check out these recent photos from Amy Heiden. Pretty boss, huh?

Now the first time the Navy tried to give away this historic boat, in 2006, they had all sorts of rules. Then they tried again in 2009 with more flexible rules. But the problem is that you can’t just take the Shadow, you also have to take the Hughes Mining Barge (HMB-1), a floating drydock boat that was developed as part of Project Jennifer. (That was the semi-successful, top-secret effort mounted by the Central Intelligence Agency to salvage the remains of the Soviet submarine K-129 from the ocean floor.)

Here’s a shot of  them together, ignore the two conventional warships in the background:

But wait, there’s more. Here’s how the Sea Shadow is laid out on the inside:

The bridge of Grant Imahara’s future evil lair. (Boy, talk about a glass cockpit, huh?)

And here’s how she looks from the outside:

You want. Why don’t you start up a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and take these things off of the Navy’s hands? Otherwise an important piece of Bay Area military history (and film history what with it inspiring the bad guys’ floating lair in Tomorrow Never Dies) is a gonna get scrapped.

Here’s what came next, after the Shadow got mothballed – it’s the all-aluminum Sea Fighter, as seen back in 2006:

via Telstar Logistics

The point being is that the aging Sea Shadow is the ur-ship, the JetFire of the stealth boat world. Won’t you save her?

O.K., first things first. Check out the owner’s manuals and start writing your business plan. (And, oh yes, while you’re at it, scrape up some cash. Lots and lots and lots o’ cash.)

Happy sailing!

The Navy’s announcement, after the jump.

*From 1999: “The combined Navy-Marine exercise included overflights of the Bay Area by the Sea Shadow, the Navy equivalent of the stealth bomber.” No, this thing can’t fly, it just floats. Veteran SF Chronicle writer Henry K. Lee got that right but others did not. Nevertheless, SFGate.com, San Francisco’s online newspaper, remains an invaluable resource.

JUN04-09:       Navy Re-Advertises Ex-Sea Shadow for Donation, Revises Requirements
By Naval Sea Systems Command Corporate Communications
WASHINGTON – The Navy this week re-advertised the availability of the ex-Sea Shadow and HMB 1 for donation, revising the original requirement to display both ex-Sea Shadow and the HMB 1 as a static museum/memorial.
As detailed in a June 2 Federal Register notice, potential donees can now either display the two vessels as currently configured as a single unit, or display only ex-Sea Shadow as a public museum and reactivate the HMB 1 for commercial use.
“We believe that this change in display requirements will make it easier for the Navy to donate the ex-Sea Shadow to an eligible community or non-profit organization,” said Glen Clark, deputy program manager for the Navy’s Inactive Ships Program.  “We look forward to receiving Letters of Intent from potential donees within 60 days, as requested by the Federal Register notice.  Navy ship donations promote public interest in the defense of the nation, commemorate naval history and heritage, and safeguard the preservation of historic vessels for future generations.”
Ex-Sea Shadow (IX 529) was built in 1985 to examine the application of stealth technology to naval vessels.  The vessel was developed at Lockheed Martin Redwood City, Calif., facility inside the Hughes Mining Barge (HMB 1), which functioned as a covered floating garage during construction and testing.
HMB 1 was originally developed as part of the CIA’s Project Jennifer, the top-secret effort mounted by Navy to salvage the remains of the Soviet submarine K-129 from the ocean floor.  Upon conclusion of Project Jennifer, HMB 1 was mothballed until 1982.  The Navy then towed HMB 1 to a Lockheed Martin facility in Redwood City, Calif., where it became a covered floating garage for the construction and sea trials of the Sea Shadow.
Ex-Sea Shadow and HMB 1 were removed from service in 2006.  Both vessels are currently located at the Maritime Administration’s National Defense Reserve Fleet in Suisun Bay, Calif.
Interested organizations should submit a letter of intent and executive summary by August 1, 2009. Eligible recipients include: 1) any State, Commonwealth, or possession of the United States or any municipal corporation or political subdivision thereof; 2) the District of Columbia; or 3) any organization incorporated as a non-profit entity. If more than one acceptable application is received, the Navy will award donation to the best qualified applicant based on a comparative evaluation.
The Navy has recently revised its ship donation application process to allow for three specific phases that asks applicants to submit documentation in three phases.  Phase One consists of a Letter of Intent and an Executive Summary submitted within 60 days of a Federal Register notice.  Phase Two consists of a Business/Financial and Environmental plan, and Phase Three consists of Towing, Mooring, Maintenance, and Curatorial/Museum plans.  For more information about the revised ship donation process, visit http://teamships.crane.navy.mil/Inactiveships/Donation.


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One Response to “Well That’s It: The US Navy is Scrapping the Bay Area’s $200 Million Super Secret Stealth Ship – R.I.P. Sea Shadow”

  1. roy chegwim says:

    don’t it see ti cut up for scrapp its amazing

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