May 4, 2012
Caveat emptor for propeller-heads: This Lockheed Martin ship is not of the winged variety. And the U.S. government has been trying to get rid of it for years.
In the 1980s, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. Navy, and Lockheed Martin outfitted a twin-hull surface ship with the latest in marine and stealth technology. Sea Shadow had originally been built in the Hughes Mining Barge; it was designed, along with Hughes’ Glomar Explorer, to retrieve the Soviet ballistic missile submarine, K-129, which sank in 1968.
After a partially successful retrieval, the barge was towed to Lockheed Martin’s Redwood City site in California, where the re-outfitting commenced in 1982. After night tests off the Santa Cruz Islands in the late 1980s, the $50 million ship went public in 1993. Testing continued through 1999, with the barge and ship docked in San Diego; in 2006, both went into Navy storage. The radical design of Sea Shadow — its angular shape, like the panels on Lockheed’s F-117 stealth fighter, rendered it nearly invisible to radar — inspired a lookalike in the 1997 James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies.
The General Services Administration auction site is taking bids on Sea Shadow through 5:00 Central Time on May 4 (the bid as of late Friday morning was $299,085). You won’t be able to use it for transportation, however. According to the GSA, “The ex-Sea Shadow shall be disposed of by completely dismantling and scrapping within the U.S.A. Dismantling is defined as reducing the property such as it has no value except for its basic material content.”