Stealth Ship Ahoy!

Mar 4, 2009 at 4:00 am

Because I'm so full of good ideas lately on ways to improve St. Louis, here's another one: How about we dock a top-secret vessel on our riverbank and bill it as a tourist attraction?

As the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, February 24, the Navy has been trying to give away the ship and has yet to find a taker.

Yes, that's right. The Navy wants to give away the Sea Shadow — a stealth ship developed in the early 1980s that eludes radar and sonar. The ship's experimental use ended in 2006, and it was placed on the Navy's register.

The boat measures 160 feet long by 70 feet wide, making it more or less the size of the USS Inaugural — the old World War II minesweeper that was moored on the St. Louis riverfront until being washed away in the flood of 1993. (If you want to read a bizarre story, check out our feature "The Strange, Strange Tale of the USS Inaugural," published March 7, 2007.)

The only catch with the Sea Shadow is that the Navy also wants the group that claims the vessel to take with it a monstrous rust-bucket known as the Hughes Mining Barge. The coolest feature about the otherwise unsightly Hughes barge is that it has a huge door in its stern that opens to swallow the Sea Shadow — keeping it out of view of spy satellites and British agents, code name 007.