On February 5th, the U.S. Navy christened a new experimental ship, the Sea Fighter. The 1,000 ton catamaran is 262 feet long, 72 feet wide and can operate in as little as 12 feet of water. The ship is meant to test concepts and technologies planned for use in the larger Littoral Combat Ship. But Sea Fighter might prove useful enough to be the model for a new class of coastal combat ships. For that reason, the U.S. Coast Guard is participating in the test effort, and may use a version of Sea Fighter for their regular operations. The Sea Fighter has a crew of 26 (16 navy, ten coast guard), and room below and on the deck for twelve cargo containers. These containers can are called "mission modules" and hold weapons, electronics or robotic air, surface or undersea vehicles for jobs like mine clearing, anti-submarine warfare or delivering commandoes. The vessel is very fast, with a top speed of 100 kilometers an hour. Even in rough seas (with up to seven foot waves), the ship can do about 70 kilometers an hour. This is partly the result of using a T shaped hydrofoil. The deck is broad enough to handle two helicopters. There is a dock in the rear for launching boats. The ship can stay for sea about eight days at time (cruising at 36 kilometers an hour, it can travel 7,200 kilometers using its diesel engines). The ship is also powered by two LM-2500 gas turbine engines (generating 33,600 horsepower each) for high speed operations.
The ship took twenty months to build, cost about $50 million and will operate out of San Diego, where it will test its novel design, and all sorts of new equipment.