U.S. Navy Advancing Technology Aboard "Sea Fighter"


Senior Member
Oct 5, 2009
U.S. Navy Advancing Technology Aboard "Sea Fighter"

One of the U.S. Navy's most unique ships is docked at Naval Support Activity Panama City. The "Sea Fighter" ship is being used to help develop some of today's ever-changing technology for the military.

051209-N-7676W-013 Pacific Ocean (Dec. 9, 2005) � An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, assigned to assigned to Naval Rotary Wing Two One (HX-21), prepares to land aboard Sea Fighter (FSF-1) during flight deck certification off the coast of San Diego, Calif. Funded by the Office of Naval Research, Sea Fighter is a high-speed aluminum catamaran that will test a variety of technologies, which will allow the Navy to operate more effectively in littoral or near-shore waters.

This doesn't look like your typical ship, much less a typical U.S. Navy vessel.

But "Sea Fighter" is an extremely important part of the U.S. fleet. It carries some of the most up-to-date technology used to train our men and women in uniform.

The massive ship is a 280 foot long, 980 ton catamaran built by the Office of Naval Research. It's currently assigned to the Naval Support Warfare Center's Panama City division for research, development, testing, and evaluation of different technologies. Some of the technology is secret.

"It's designed to carry mission modules which are 20 foot by 8 foot containers. That mission packages are built on to. Designed to do specific things like fly remote helicopters, run remote controlled vehicles, and run communication systems," Steve Shoner, Sea Fighter's Project Manager for the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City said.

Brad Hopkins is the captain of FSF-1 Sea Fighter.

"This was one of the first ships certified in the U.S. Navy as paperless," Hopkins said.

In the bridge, the extus system runs the ship.

"We have a complete integrated auto pilot system which if you turn it over. The actual extus unit can drive the ship. So in essence the ship can drive itself," Hopkins said.

When the computer's not steering the ship, the captain can control its movements using this joy stick. He can also control the ship's engines by one touch of this button.

In medium seas, the ship can travel at 50 plus knots.

If you're wondering how much it takes to run this big ship, it's about 78-thousand horsepower.

"For the gear heads our there, we have two diesel engines, rated at 6-thousand horsepower a piece. And two LM 2500 gas turbines which are the same ones that are used on F-15 Strike Eagles capable of producing 33-thousand horse power a piece," Hopkins said.

The ship produces its own power using these generators. Each generator can produce 345 kilowatts of power, enough to power an entire neighborhood.

"Sea Fighter" also carries an 11-foot RHIB boat and uses this launch and recovery ramp for special missions. It can even accommodate helicopter landings on its deck.

The ship is built with plug and play technology capable of deploying for different missions in just one hour.

On a routine mission, the ship carries 17 people, but can carry up to 42 people if necessary.

It's outfitted with a number of sleeping quarters and a fully galley.

"The Navy is now moving into higher speed vessels. So we need a test platform for high speed sensors that's going into the new ships. So this is the test platform for what's going on future ships like littoral combat ships, some of the new combatants that are coming out. We are a place for people to come test their systems," Shoner said.

Captain Hopkins says each crew member is proud to work on board the "Sea Fighter". Hopkins says it's definitely a unique job that the majority of people don't get to do.

"What we're doing is ensuring that the technology that's being developed is ready for the war fighter when they need it," Hopkins added.

Sea Fighter can also be deployed to disaster areas, such as Haiti, to provide essential resources to those on the ground.

The ship came to Panama City from San Diego in 2007.


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