A once-classified Navy stealth ship called Sea Shadow has been sold to an Alameda shipyard for scrapping.
The $2.5 million bid from Bay Ship & Yacht Co. won the federal government auction that concluded in mid-June. The firm was interested not so much in the space-age stealth ship but the barge that houses it, which will be converted into a drydock.
"We don't think we're going to make money on Sea Shadow at all," said Alan Cameron, the firm's general manager. "In fact, it would have been wonderful if we could have just floated it out of there and given it to somebody."
Sea Shadow was built in 1985 by Lockheed Martin in Redwood City, under contract with the U.S. Navy, for a price of $50 million. The goal was to test whether radar-evading technology proven in fighter aircraft could also be applied to ships.
The experiment was a success. Sea Shadow proved in exercises that it could sneak up on aircraft carriers undetected. Elements of its angular design made their way into numerous active naval vessels. But Sea Shadow herself was never reproduced and ended up in the Navy's mothball fleet near Benicia.
After trying unsuccessfully to give Sea Shadow away to a museum, the Navy decided earlier this year to sell it for its scrap value alone. It was offered with a unique submersible barge, known as HMB-1, which was originally built for a CIA mission in 1974 to retrieve a sunken Russian submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean and later became Sea Shadow's garage.
The auction requires Sea Shadow to be destroyed, but the barge can be repurposed. That is what Bay Ship & Yacht intends to do, Cameron said. The barge will provide a unique enclosed space to meet some of the environmental requirements associated with its primary business of servicing midsize ships.
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