The United States Navy and the United States Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, also known as DARPA, Â has decided to auction one of its most well-known and stealthy boats. The $195 million dollar ship, the Sea Shadow, went on the auction block with the government asking for bids at approximately $50,000 with only $10,000 as a down payment.
The boat garnered attention after movie producers revealed they used the Sea Shadow as inspiration for a boat in the James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies." Â The General Services Administration, or GSA, said that the auction for the ship will end Thursday evening. The highest bid for the ship is only $100,000, reported the Inquistr. Â
The Sea Shadow became a project of the Navy during the Cold War when the United States sought to gain an advantage against the Soviet Union. The Pentagon gave billions of dollars into research for stealth technology and the ability to hide powerful weapons from the radar of the enemy.
Assembled in secret in Redwood City, Calif. in 1985 by the Navy and contractor Lockheed Martin, the purpose of the 164-foot vessel was to test radar-cloaking technology and other naval warfare innovations. The Sea Shadow's influence can still be seen today as part of modern warships, reported the Sacramento Bee.
But at nearly 30-years-old, the Sea Shadow is one of the most interesting ships to date.
"You take the propellers off it and that thing could really double as a spaceship in any science fiction movie," said Bruce Ecker, a San Pedro photographer who has documented the ship, reported the Sacramento Bee.. "It looks secret. You want to go and rattle the doorknob on it just to see if you can get in."
However, don't expect the government to simply turn over a stealth ship. They plan to tear it down before shipping it off to the new owner.
"The ex-Sea Shadow shall be disposed of by completely dismantling and scrapping within the U.S.A.," said the GSA regarding the ship on their website. "Dismantling is defined as reducing the property such as it has no value except for its basic material content."
Unfortunately, turning the ship into a pile of scrap metal comes after the Navy sent six years to try to have it featured at museum.
"While several letters of interest were received ... our only disposition option is dismantling and recycling," said Navy spokesman Christopher Johnson, reported the Sacramento Bee.
The Sea Shadow was first built in sections by various contractors, who were unaware of what the final project would look like, Sacramento Bee. The ship's design certainly deviates from the traditional maritime battle cruisers. It is has an angular shape with vertical sides. The interior has enough bunks for 12 people, but the shape can scatter various radar signals.
"We operated with impunity," said S.K. Gupta, a retired Lockheed engineer who was the Sea Shadow test director. "We could take anybody down at night."
According to the Sacramento Bee, Gupta described a night exercise where the Sea Shadow was able to sneak up on an aircraft carrier. They fired three flares at the carrier and went undetected.
"They could barely see where the flares came from, but by the time we had closed the hatch, we disappeared again," he said.
In 1994, the Sea Shadow program was ended. However, it would periodically be reactivated for additional tests and missions.
However, before it was decommissioned, photographer Bruce Ecker spent several days on board the ship, photographing its every corner. His photos can be viewed here.
The ship had garnished positive attention during its commission and its influence will be long lasting according to Rich Pekelney, a board member of the Historic Naval Ships Association
"From the public's perspective, Sea Shadow is just this incredibly exotic-looking shape," said Pekelney. "But the more I dug into it, the more I came to realize we really got a lot out of that program, even from what I can tell as an outsider."
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