The "Sea Fighter" prototype arrived in San Diego as reported here (Thanks, Worker for the email tip)
The high-speed Sea Fighter ---- known during design and construction as the "X-Craft" ---- is a boxy, twin-hulled aluminum vessel that drafts just 11 feet of water and is operated by a crew of 26 officers and sailors.Shhh! Those "sacred cows" might be listening...
While not intended to enter the Navy's operational fleet, the ship is designed as a test vessel to work out problems and learn lessons that can be applied to the Navy's next class of ship ---- the Littoral Combat Ship, or LCS ---- which is similar in design and concept.
The Sea Fighter's deck provides a platform for two helicopters, such as the Army's Black Hawk or the Navy's Sea Hawk. It also has a launch pad for an unmanned aerial vehicle and space below decks for launching and recovering the inflatable combat boats used by special operations forces such as the Navy's SEALs...Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, who also fought to fund the project, said the Sea Fighter combines the "speed of a PT boat," a small fast attack boat used in World War II, with the "fire power of a battleship."
He was echoed by Hunter, who said that while fully loaded with cruise missiles, the Sea Fighter could deliver "100 times more firepower than a battleship."
Hunter said sacred cows in both Congress and the Navy had to be slaughtered to develop the Sea Fighter.
Update: Stratgy Page on the Sea Fighter:
This ship was originally intended as an experimental ship, to test out a number of new technologies. But the sea trials were so successful, that pressure is building to put this class into mass production. That won’t be hard to do. Sea Fighter took only twenty months to build, and cost only $50 million. Ships like this are meant for a new force, the "brown water (coastal) navy." The “brown water sailors,” who are agitating for more emphasis on small ships, and operations in coastal waters, are no longer considered a fringe group. This is mainly because a larger brown water force would get the navy more involved with the war on terror. The navy has largely been left out of the war on terror, because of their emphasis on carriers and nuclear subs. Despite the usefulness of carrier aviation in Afghanistan, the navy hasn’t had a lot to do since September 11, 2001. The army is getting most of the work, and a growing proportion of the defense budget. With the cost of traditional warships skyrocketing, the LCS (3,000 ton, $250 million Littoral Combat Ship) and the LSC look a lot more attractive. New destroyers will cost $2.5 billion each. That gets you ten LCSs, or fifty LSCs. New carriers cost over $8 billion each, which could built a fleet of brown water ships.Yeah, baby!