Oh Wall Street Journal A-Hed column, you had us at “a cross between a Stealth fighter and a Batmobile” (although frankly, we would have gone with the definite article before Batmobile). That’s how the paper’s intrepid Barry Newman describes one of two top-secret vessels that the United States Navy is looking for someone to take off its hands. In addition to the aforementioned Sea Shadow (pictured), a big black thing designed to “escape detection on the open sea,” there is a barge named after Howard Hughes.
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.
Since 2006, the Navy has been offering Sea Shadow and the Barge (which sounds like the name of a terrific sitcom!) for free in a package deal. So far, no takers. “A gift ship from the Navy comes with lots of strings attached to the rigging,” writes Kaplan. “A naval museum, the Historic Naval Ships Association warns, is ‘a bloodthirsty, paperwork ridden, permit-infested, money-sucking hole…’”