By Maria Zacharias, Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs
WASHINGTON -- In the ongoing effort to bring new technologies to the fleet more rapidly, military and industry have a valuable asset available in Sea Shadow (IX 529).
A futuristic-looking vessel with a shape reminiscent of Darth Vaders helmet, Sea Shadow is a test platform for researching advanced technologies in propulsion, automation, sea-keeping and reduced signatures. Sea Shadow provides government and industry an opportunity to test new technologies at sea before committing to using them in new ship designs.
Once veiled in secrecy, the vessel has since come out in the open as a tool for testing and evaluating new technologies in a realistic at-sea environment.
Developed in the 1980s under a combined program by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Navy and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Company, Sea Shadow incorporates a Small Water Plane Area Twin Hull (SWATH) design, in which the vessels angled sides extend below the waterline to torpedo-shaped hulls that provide exceptional stability in heavy weather.
The canards and stabilizers used to steer the craft are an example of a new idea that was developed and proven on Sea Shadow and then incorporated into the SWATH T-AGOS 19 and 23 ship classes. Seakeeping and structural loads data collected on Sea Shadow was also used to assist in validating the design tools used in developing these other SWATHs.
Sea Shadow currently offers a means to support risk reduction for future surface ship platforms, such as DD(X), by testing advanced technologies that support areas, such as reduced manning and ship survivability.
Sea Shadow can be used to test new technologies in a realistic environment and at a larger scale than can be achieved in indoor facilities, says Program Manager Paul Chatterton. And using Sea Shadow means not having to impinge on operational forces for testing needs.
As Navy shipbuilding programs continue to move in the direction of modular construction, spiral development, and more compressed lead times, Sea Shadow should continue to demonstrate its value to government and industry decision makers.