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Sea Fighter Finds a New Home

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070403-14
Release Date: 4/3/2007 7:17:00 PM

By Dan Broadstreet, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama Center Public Affairs

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (NNS) -- The FSF-1 Sea Fighter, a high-speed naval craft designed by the Office of Naval Research, sailed into port at the Naval Support Activity-Panama City (NSA-PC) on March 29.

Made available primarily for research, development, testing and evaluation for developmental technologies, Sea Fighter will be considered as another tenant command of NSA-PC, according to its officer in charge, Capt. R.E. Lee Bond.

“Panama City is known to be a community where Navy activities are well regarded and embraced,” Bond said. “For those reasons, as well as the actual technical project connection to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City (NSWC PC), this just felt like the right place to be.”

According to Bond, the ship made the long transit from its former homeport of San Diego to strike up permanent residency pier-side at NSA-PC to conduct several types of experimental projects. Planned experiments include: assessments associated with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mission module concept, material assessment of the effects of temperature and environment on aluminum fatigue properties, and the use of the ship to demonstrate autonomous underwater vehicle operations.

“The ship is basically built with a plug and play modular concept where any capability we want to bring on board and deploy comes in CONEX boxes, literally as mission modules,” Bond said, adding that the ship would frequently be dedicated to NSWC PC’s Mine Warfare mission modules.

Bond made it clear, however, that the ship would be made available for several different types of missions and experimental projects, some deployed almost simultaneously.

“There is a lot of room for more than one thing simultaneously,” Bond said. “We can put modules in here that contain everything from specialized mission-related equipment to general ship-support spares, to modules for additional crew berthing.”

NSWC PC Sea Fighter representative David Hardesty added that it was the ship’s versatility that made it so invaluable as a research and development vessel.

“The Sea Fighter has several invaluable characteristics that make it a unique platform. For example, it has the flight deck that enables us to conduct airborne missions via the MH-60S helicopter; it has the mission bays that can house up to 12 mission modules; and, it has a launch and recovery ramp located at the aft end of the ship that enables the launching of manned/unmanned underwater and surface vehicles while at sea,” Hardesty said, adding that the ramp also converted to enable land-based vehicles to drive on and off the ship as well.

Bond compared the ship’s architecture to today’s computer technology.

“These days when you speak of modern computer architecture, you speak in terms of plug and play, as long as you are conforming to interface standards. This whole ship is built on that concept. So, any capability you bring with your mission module, we plug it in and we’re ready to play,” he concluded.

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