Of all the thousands of stories I have written, one of the most surprising to me in terms of its widespread interest was one about the selling-off of Lockheed's innovative quad-hull littoral combat ship testbed vessel Sea Slice. That post prompted throngs of emails inquiring about the ship and a ton of social media action, as well as reposts from other outlets. People seemed to be fascinated with the bizarrely shaped ship and its unique capabilities and were genuinely interested in not seeing it split apart by the scrapper's torch. I did a follow-up when it was successfully sold to a wind turbine support company in Europe and I remember corresponding with them about their plans for Sea Slice over the months that followed. Now it appears that those plans not only fell through, but the ship has met just as depressing an end to its life as what was originally feared when it was put up for sale in 2015.
The largely aluminum Sea Slice cost $15M to build and was a major outgrowth of SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) design concept. Starting in the late 1990s, the ship worked to demonstrate a diverse variety of experimental capabilities, weapon systems, and tactics in the waters around Southern California. You can read all about Sea Slice's legacy in this past article of mine.
When it was put up for sale for pennies on the dollar, it was hoped that a user would purchase it that could make use of its unique abilities, which included an expansive open-deck area that was made possible by its very wide beam, and high-speed and highly stable seakeeping. It turned out that this is exactly what happened. I wrote the following in January of 2016:
The once military technology-demonstrator ship was shipped last October from San Diego to Rotterdam aboard the SAL Heavy Lift Vessel Frauke. Apparently, the voyage took 30 days. Shortly after arriving in Rotterdam, Sea Slice was towed via tug to Esbjerg, Denmark, where she was delivered to her new owners, Advanced Offshore Solutions. The firm provides logistical support and expertise to the burgeoning offshore wind energy industry in Europe.
After receiving a refit she will begin work in the renewable-energy sector as an offshore windfarm tender and exploration craft. Her unique design allows for highly stable operations at speeds up to 30 knots, even while in high sea states (Sea State 5). Her large, wide deck area also makes the ship highly flexible for carrying various out-sized payloads.
“The Sea Slice is a special case in point to demonstrate how our customers can profit from our network and expertise. Bringing the right parties together from the outset and minimizing our time and cost expenditure is all part of our job and we are getting better and better at it.“
Fast forward to today and this promising future for Sea Slice appears to have failed to launch. The ship was subsequently transferred into the hands of Smedegaarden A/S, a Danish maritime logistics firm based out of Esbjerg, Denmark. This was Sea Slice's last port of call before being scrapped by the company.
Smedegaarden A/S wrote the following in a post on their website:
The American navy vessel "Sea-SLICE" & Baywatch Celebrity, build 1996 by Lockhead Martin, has now ended its days in Esbjerg - Denmark for recycling.
Smedegaarden A/S purchased the Vessel from a Danish Operator, who originally planned the vessel to be used as Service ship to the Wind Sector, and the once so proud and beutifull vessel is now empty for machinery, electronics and waste materials etc before the recycling of the hull can commence.
The vessel has participated in Baywatch Hawaii Episode 10, which can be seen at youtube by clicking HERE
The vessel contained, amongst other reuseable equipment, 2 x MTU main engines producing 3500 hp each.
The vessel were build of corrosion resistant Aluminum material.
You can see Sea Slice intact at their facility in the satellite image taken a year ago posted below. A can see where her pilothouse ended up here.
At least it's nice to see the shipbreaker make note of the uniqueness of the vessel they are charged with dismantling and its historic significance. Regardless, it looks like Sea Slice and all of its potential is finally gone for good.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com