Lockheed Sea Shadow (IX-529)


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Looking for pictures of Sea Shadow (especially hulls, screw propel;lers), pics in new color scheme and drawings for building my Revell kit at least. Thanx!
I had read that the plan for the Sea Shadow was a production version armed with Patriot missiles and an LPI radar to scout ahead of carrier battle groups and attack Soviet bombers before they could launch their cruise missles. Anyone heard of this proposal?

It's mentioned in Bill Sweetman's book Lockheed Stealth.
Yes, I also read that in superb book "Skunk Works" from Ben R. Rich & Leo Janos.
13 "The Ship that never was", page 298:
...We could arm it with 64 Patriot-type missiles and send it over 300 miles ahead of the carrier Task force as an invisible amphibious SAM missile site. We'd shoot down the Soviet Attack aircraft, before they got in missile range of the fleet. ...

But they forgot the unwritten Rule 15 of Kelly Johnson rules: "Don't deal with the US Navy!"
;) ;D
And may be something about photos, friends?
I can't find any photos worth posting. There are nice models (real and CGI) which show the below water catamaran hulls, but no photos of this.
A couple that may be of use?


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The Navy Has a Top-Secret Vessel It Wants to Put on Display Sea Shadow and Its Satellite-Proof Barge Need a Home; Plotting in Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- 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. 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.

"I'm fascinated by the possibilities," Frank Lennon said one morning recently. Mr. Lennon runs -- or ran -- a maritime museum here in Providence. He was standing in a sleet storm on a wharf below a power plant, surveying the 297-foot muck-encrusted hulk of a Soviet submarine that he owns. His only exhibit, it was open to the public until April 2007, when a northeaster hit Providence and the sub sank.

Army and Navy divers refloated it this past summer with the aid of chains and air tanks. Mr. Lennon can't help but imagine how his sub might look alongside the two covert Cold War castoffs from the Navy. "They would be terrific for our exhibit," he said, watching the sleet come down.

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.

Museum entrepreneurs like Mr. Lennon who don't have much money can only fantasize about Sea Shadow and its barge. After all, a pair of mysterious vessels that performed their heroics out of the public eye can't have much claim to fame. Glen Clark, the Navy's civilian ship-disposal chief, has received just one serious call about the two vessels, and it didn't lead to a written application.

The Navy's insistence on donating Sea Shadow and the barge as a twofer may also explain the lack of interest. Here is the Navy's vision for a museum display as Mr. Clark describes it:

"When you're driving down the road, you can't see the Sea Shadow. You have to pay for your ticket to go on board the Hughes Mining Barge, and then you see the Sea Shadow. That has the capability of preserving the aura of secrecy of the program."

Possibly. It might also cause drivers to drive right by the hulking rust-bucket without devoting a thought to stopping.

The Hughes Mining Barge actually has nothing to do with mining or with the late, reclusive Mr. Hughes. He merely let the Central Intelligence Agency use his name in 1974 to cover up its mission to raise a Soviet submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

The adventure was publicized as the expedition of another new vessel, the Hughes Glomar Explorer, to mine for minerals on the seabed. To grab a sub, the ship needed a giant claw. But because it was big and unwieldy, the claw couldn't be installed in the ship at dockside. That's where the "mining" barge came in.

The claw was assembled inside it. According to Curtis Crooke, retired president of Global Marine Development Inc., the company that did the work, the barge with the claw inside was then towed off the California coast and submersed. The Glomar Explorer was positioned over it, and the claw hoisted into its belly.

Then the Explorer went sub hunting (exactly how much of the sub it retrieved, if anything, has never been declassified) and the barge went into mothballs.

"That's all it was used for," says Mr. Crooke, "to put the claw inside the Explorer." Would the barge work as a museum? "It's just a big old dumb barge," he says. "Now, the Sea Shadow, that's a way-out spacey kind of thing. You could tell a story about that."

The Glomar Explorer was refitted as a drill ship. The barge -- thanks to its satellite-proof roof -- got a second secret job for the Navy and its contractor, Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. In the early 1980s, Sea Shadow was assembled inside it. At a cost later put at $195 million, it aimed to attain the same invisibility at sea that it had in the federal budget.

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.

The Navy's Mr. Clark says, "We're looking at that option." In December, Sea Shadow got a one-year reprieve from the junk yard. And in Providence, Mr. Lennon got one more year to dream.

Retreating from the sleet, he was in the Sealand Diner eating breakfast with Ed Sciaba. Mr. Lennon is 66 years old and an ex-Green Beret. Mr. Sciaba, 54, is a scrap dealer ready to tow Mr. Lennon's sunken Soviet sub to his yard.

Mr. Sciaba knew nothing of Sea Shadow or the CIA's sub-raising venture. As Mr. Lennon recounted the details, he got excited.

"Hell of an idea," he said. "That's a museum I'd go to."

"You could tell the story of the Cold War," said Mr. Lennon.

Mr. Sciaba banged his coffee mug on the table. "Let's go get 'em and tow 'em back here!" he said. Mr. Lennon turned his gaze to the storm outside, and Mr. Sciaba picked up the check.

Write to Barry Newman at barry.newman@wsj.com

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A1
Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008 or visit
I live in the Providence area about 2 miles from the submarine mentioned above and well I admire these guys for dreaming big dreams so far their ambitions have been larger than their ability to pull off getting the museum off the ground. They have been trying since the mid 90's to acquire the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (which is moored in Newport, RI) but they have just never been able to get their financing and organization together enough to really get going. It is a difficult proposition in our area as we have two major Naval Museums operating within a 40 miles radius (The USS Massachusetts museum is 20 minutes away in Fall River, Ma. and the USN's own Submarine musuem featuring the USS Nautilus in 40 minutes south in Groton, Ct.). When the Russian Juliett class submarine that they had opened as an attraction sank they did not have funds to salvage it, it was fortunate for them that the USN and the US ARMY stepped in and raised the Sub as a salvage diver training exercise. However the effects of being on the bottom for over a year mean that the vessel will be scrapped.
quite a rare pic of Sea Shadow hull details in a dry dock from Revell kit box


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Revell kit quite correct in terms of geometry

That picture of the underwater hull is very interesting. No antifouling paint, only sacrificial anodes for cathodic protection.

I suspect you have seen these:

Sea Shadows paint scheme was either changed several times, or was sufficiently reflective to adopt the ambient colour (as modern naval paint schemes do).

It was repainted once ca.1999
Sea Shadow
Power Plant Diesel electric
Available Design Details SWATH (Small Water Plane Area Twin Hull)
Length, 164 feet;
Beam, 68 feet;
Draft, 14.5 feet;
Displacement, 560 tons;
Crew, 10
Purpose Technology demonstration platform
Status Reactivated in 1999 as a DD-21 technology test platform
Start Date Early 1980s
Terminal Date Placed in dry dock in 1994, reactivated 1999

Sea Shadow focused on evaluating stealth technology on surface vessels. It also
served as a platform for the integration and evaluation of other new technologies,
including ship control systems, structures, automation for reduced manning, sea keeping,
and signature control.7 The focus on stealth technology made Sea Shadow a highly
classified program managed by DARPA, the Navy, and Lockheed Martin Missiles and
Space Company.

Development Chronology
The idea for a stealthy naval surface vessel occurred to Ben Rich in 1978, when he
was Director of the Lockheed Skunk Works. The project photographer working on the
model for the first stealth aircraft complained about defects in a recently purchased
Polaroid camera. Rich wrote that the photographer told him:
I’ve been taking instant view shorts of the stealth model, and I’m getting
very fuzzy pictures. I think I’ve got a defective lens,” he remarked. I
[Rich] slapped my head, knowing we had accidentally stumbled onto an
exciting development. “Time out! There isn’t a damn thing wrong with
your new camera,” I insisted. “Polaroid uses a sound echo device like
sonar to focus, and you are getting fuzzy pictures because our stealthy
coatings and shaping on that model are interfering with the sound echo.8
The Skunk Works immediately began investigating stealthy submarines
undetectable to sonar. They purchased a small model submarine, put faceted fairings on
it, and tested it in a sonic chamber. These changes reduced the sonar return from the
model sub by three orders of magnitude, a result that Rich termed “as rare an occurrence
as an astronomer discovering a new constellation.” 9 Lockheed designed a stealthy sub
with the traditional cigar-shaped hull “shielded by an outer wall of flat, angular surfaces
that would bounce sonar signals away and also muffle the engine sounds and the internal
noises of crewmen inside the vessel.” After running acoustical tests Rich took the results
to the Navy submarine R&D office, where they were rejected.
Lockheed’s involvement in Navy stealth might have stopped there had it not been
for a company engineer just back from a Pearl Harbor business trip who mentioned to
Rich that he had seen a catamaran-type ship that the Navy had built experimentally. This
prototype SWATH (Small Water Area Twin Hull) ship was proving to be amazingly
stable in heavy seas and was considerably faster than a conventional ship. Rich felt that a
catamaran SWATH ship held real promise as a model for a stealthy surface ship, so he
presented the idea Dr. William Perry, the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and
Engineering. Rich suggested they could test several stealth-related technologies on the
ship. Dr. Perry agreed and arranged for DARPA to issue a study contract.10 This small
contract was aimed at developing a workable model catamaran and testing it against
Soviet X-band radar. Rich wrote, “Shape was the key to defeating Soviet radar. Coatings
accounted for only 10 percent effectiveness in deflecting radar. The rest was quietness of
a vessel’s engines and minimizing its wake.”11 The Lockheed team developed a model
with a pair of underwater pontoon-type hulls that propelled the ship with twin screws. It
had good stability in rolling seas and produced very little wake.
The subsequent prototype resembled the F-117A stealth fighter (see Chapter I)
with a series of severe flat planes at 45-degree angles. “Diesel-electric propulsion would
power the ship’s counter-rotating propellers. Careful shaping of the pontoons and the
propellers cut down sharply on noise and wake.” In addition to stealth design structure,
Sea Shadow had an “A-frame” design to reduce the surface area of the ship coming in
contact with the water in an effort to reduce the ship’s signature. The SWATH
configuration incorporated two submerged pontoons that supported the upper structures
while increasing ship stability. It also minimized the ship signature through the sloped
design of the hull.

The Sea Shadow concept was focused on the Soviet Blue Water threat—
specifically the Soviet long-range fighter-bombers that were threatening the US Navy
with new look-down, shoot-down radar-guided missiles. The Navy’s Aegis missile
frigate was being procured with the objective of destroying incoming cruise missiles.
Lockheed argued that its ship would cost only $200 million (compared with the billion
dollar Aegis frigate), would be armed with Patriot-type missiles that could attack the
cruise missile carrying bombers, and would be invisible to the Soviet radars. The ship
“could be sent out hundreds of miles ahead of the carrier task force to shoot down the
Soviet attack aircraft before they got within missile range of the fleet.”13
On reviewing the test data, Dr. Perry ordered the Navy to fund R&D of a stealth
ship. Perry was adamant about proceeding although the Navy was highly resistant. In a
meeting with the Chief of Naval Operations he responded to the Navy’s reluctance:
“Admiral, we are going to build this ship; the only question is whether the Navy is going
to be part of it.”14 Perry tried to soften the blow by stating that the funding would not
come out of other Navy ships.
The Sea Shadow was constructed in modules in several shipyards and then
assembled inside a huge submergible barge. It was made of very strong welded steel,
displaced 560 tons, and was 70 feet wide. The ship had a four-man crew—commander,
helmsman, navigator, and engineer.15 These figures went up over time and subsequent
tests carried up to 24 people—still far less than on normal Navy craft.16
A number of impediments to development were reported. Many of these appear
to have been bureaucratic. In his book, Rich is scathing in his evaluation of both Navy
resistance to new concepts as well as the approach of Lockheed’s own shipbuilders. In
recent interviews, Ugo Coty, the chief Skunk Works designer of the Navy stealth concept,
reported that he had shared many of Rich’s concerns about the development project.
Coty said that a major problem is that the Navy “never builds experimental ships.”17
Instead, the Service builds the first ship of a class of ships—and may not build the rest of
the class. Thus the people Rich had called “bureaucrats and paper pushers” in his book,
were simply a typical part of a standard shipbuilding program, and to them the demand
for paint lockers (on a ship that would not be regularly chipped and painted) made perfect
Once constructed, the Sea Shadow was towed to Long Beach to begin its tests off
Santa Cruz Island. All tests were at night against the most advanced Navy hunter planes.
Rich reports that tests were extremely successful:
One typical night of testing, the Navy sub-hunter airplanes made fiftyseven
passes at us and detected the ship only twice—both times at a mileand-
a-half distance, so that we would have shot them down easily long
before they spotted us. Several times, we actually provided the exact
location to the pilots and they still could not pick us up on their radar.18
The tests continued over 2 years. All reports indicate that the Sea Shadow
performed well.19 Nevertheless, although individual technologies were applied to Navy
ships, the ship itself was never introduced into the fleet. Rich’s view was that the
admirals who ran the surface fleet were against it. He wrote that they told him the design
was too radical. They told him, “If the shape is so revolutionary and secret, how could
we ever use it without hundreds of sailors seeing it? It’s just too far out.” He noted,
“Although the Navy did apply our technology to lower the radar cross section of their
new class of destroyers, we were drydocked before we had really got launched.”20
When Dr. Perry left office, the next administration’s OSD Comptroller reduced
funding for the DD-51 in the following year’s budget request, which the Navy interpreted
as redirecting funds to pay for Sea Shadow. In response, Chief of Naval Operations
Admiral Hayward cut the program out of the budget. Coty went to Hayward and asked
why and was told it was because the Navy Program Manager was asking for too much
money. The PM had submitted a request for missile development to arm the new ships
and everything to go with them. In Hayward’s view these requirements had come “before
the ship had even been shown to be stealthy.”21 Coty said that after a fast reeducation of
the new Administration, money was restored. But stealth supporters such as Rich and
Coty believed the Navy brass largely disapproved of the development.
Sea Shadow was deactivated from 1987 until 1993, when it was reactivated for
additional equipment testing. In 1993 and 1994, it was openly tested, serving as a
platform for testing several concepts including combat systems developed by Lockheed
under contract with DARPA. Two Combat System prototypes, the Automated Combat
Identification System (ACIDS) and the Tactical Action Advisor (TAA), were tested. The
ACIDS was a decision aid to automatically identify air and surface tracks based on sensor
and intelligence information as defined by the tactical operators. The TAA system was a
decision aid to support a Tactical Action Officer or Warfare Commander. The testing and
demonstration of both the ACIDS and TAA prototypes were a part of the DARPA-funded
High Performance Distributed Experiment (HiPer-D) program, and the versions of the
ACIDS and TAA prototypes that were tested used software technology funded by
DARPA for civilian and defense applications.22 The testing was again reported to be
According to Lockheed representatives, the tests also proved out the use of
commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology in the systems and were the basis for using
COTS in the Aegis system. As a result, each of the developed Aegis employed more
COTS in its computer hardware and software, and the Aegis 71 is now fully COTS.23
The Sea Shadow was once again placed in lay-up status in 1994. Although it did
not enter the fleet, its design did contribute to follow-on programs like the Arsenal Ship
and the DD-21 as well as other ships. The ship was reactivated in 1999 in anticipation of
using it to test new technologies being developed for the DD-21.24 Specifically, the Navy
said that the Sea Shadow would help support risk reduction efforts for the DD-21 and
other future ships and facilitate the testing of automation systems and information
technologies that are key to reducing manning and increasing ship survivability.25 Tests
have focused on design concepts for the destroyer. The Sea Shadow continues to be used
to test DARPA concepts, including a platform for DARPA’s High-Performance
Distributed Computing experiment.26

Sea Shadow Technology and Acquisition Innovations
Following are some of the processes/technologies tested on Sea Shadow:
• Command and Control
o Improved ship control
o Automated ship control
o The Communicator
• Materials and Structures
o Structural design for reduced signature angled surfaces, rounded edges, and
a single, lightweight mast
o Advanced structures
o Twin hull construction employing a unique hull design with two thin struts
to support the deck structure and two submerged, submarine-like pontoons
known as the Small Water Plane Area Twin Hull (SWATH)
• Propulsion
o Jet, counter-rotating engines (jet not installed, used diesel instead, but
proved stealth principal of the counter-rotating engines)
• Sustainment
o Automation for reduced manning
• Weapons
o Automated Combat Identification System (ACIDS)
o Tactical Action Advisor (TAA)
Several key technologies related to sea-based stealth were developed and
demonstrated, as was SWATH technology; new communication, command and control
approaches; and automation for reduced manning. From all evidence, the stealth
component worked very well. This was apparent in the early 1980s, but only slowly
penetrated the Navy leadership. Reduced manning was also fully demonstrated.
However, such reductions continued to be opposed by many among the uniformed Navy
leadership who worried about the ability to respond to battle damage with much reduced

Overall Sea Shadow has proven to be a very valuable test vessel. DARPA played
a significant role in its funding and development. The Program demonstrated many of the
problems that are likely to occur when DARPA works with the Services to introduce
novel technologies that might have significant impact on the Services’ force structure and
operations. The stealthy Sea Shadow immediately came into competition with other
Service priorities (Aegis). It had no powerful Navy advocate. It ran up against an
acquisition process that made it difficult to succeed (e.g., Was it the lead ship of a new
class rather than a demonstrator?). And, with Dr. Perry gone, it had no powerful advocate
anywhere in the DoD. It sank into the background. Still, it is possible to track
technologies developed here to the ill-fated Arsenal Ship, the current DD-21 and today’s

Dear Gregory, a Bay Area photographer called Amy Heiden got access to Suisun Bay and has a couple of shots (apparently from inside HMB-1, and of under the waterline) here:


(same on Flickr: View: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aheiden/4311966645/

I stumbled across them a couple of months ago so had to go 're-find' them. I did think there were more on display at the time... so perhaps she has more privately?

Also an apparently basic blueprint?, from:

Maybe this chap was with her?:

View: http://www.flickr.com/photos/soundguy20000/4498425129/in/set-72157623028390209/

View: http://www.flickr.com/photos/soundguy20000/4492335136/in/set-72157623028390209/


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Pictures of the Sea Shadow:


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More pictures of the Sea Shadow:


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And a few more...


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I have some photos around here somewhere from that visit.

Externals only though.

Very interesting, might you be willing to tell us more about the visit or share them?
mr_london_247 said:
Very interesting, might you be willing to tell us more about the visit or share them?
would be great, yes
I had thought a possible use of "Sea Shadow"s might be as a mobile ICBM carrier for the MX.
Wait, did they ask all the South American "pharmaceutical" distributors if they needed a seagoing stealth vessel? :)
You're telling me there are no eccentric millionaires or billionaires who would save this thing, even just for showing off next to their yacht? What a waste.
I guess Navy museum at Tushino would like to have both, but seems some problems could arise:)
Deino said:
What a sad end ... :'( :eek: :-[

It breaks my heart to see this... :'(

Couldn't they preserve such a unique piece of technological achievement, perhaps turning it into a floating museum or something?
It's like seeing the Lun ekranoplane slowly rotting away... It should be listed by the Unesco as part of mankind's common heritage and preserved!
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