|We woke up a couple of weeks ago and this was in a slip just a 4 slips down from us.|
|The hatches on top were open and there was one other guy on the dock taking pics of it.|
|The helm is loaded with electronics and the hull seems bullet proof.|
|The scuttlebutt on the docks is the vessel is 76' in length.|
|This Aft Hatch opens, later I got a look inside, plenty of room in the aft compartment for a Zodiac and a Seal Team.|
We were on our way to Fort De Soto to meet some birding friends so we were up early and as we jumped of the boat to head to the Little truck that Can, this military looking vessel was just a few slips away. I snapped a few pics and the Admiral asked one of the Navy looking guys around what was it, he replied "Sealion",. He said they came from Virginia Beach where there is a large Nave Base. I asked another question and he said we could find more information by searching Google than he was allowed to tell us. So the following are a couple of excerpts from two different web pages:
"SEALION II is scheduled for delivery to the Navy by December 2005. The second SEALION, as was the first, is being fabricated by Oregon Iron Works Inc. (OIW) under a $6 million contract from the Carderock Division in Bethesda, Md. No additional SEALION boats are planned. The SEALION project is intended to refine the Navy’s knowledge of advanced hull forms to provide “superior sea keeping capabilities and improved comfort to crew and passengers,” said Warring. The pounding endured by special operations forces in other boats in rough water has proven hazardous to their health, according to Navy medical studies. Rough boat rides are blamed for injuries to the skeletal system, including teeth, as well as to internal organs, the studies found. The SEALION has an enclosed cockpit for the crew and passengers — such as SEALS — that provides a quiet, comfortable environment, and improves the ability of the passengers to perform their duties after a long transit.
SEALION II: 71-plus feet
Draft: classified; relatively shallow for a 71-foot-long craft
Speed: 40-plus knots; capable of transiting Sea State 5 at 30-plus knots
Propulsion: two MTU diesel engines driving two KaMeWa waterjets, providing 1,136 shaft horsepower per engine
Crew: SEALION I: three; SEALION II: two
Builder: Oregon Iron Works
The SEALION II is intended to demonstrate advanced capabilities for future combatant craft in a medium-range maritime platform for enhanced knowledge of seakeeping performance, functional modularity, integrated command and control, crew readiness, human system integration, construction techniques, maintenance and affordability. The craft is being operated by NSWG 4 as a clandestine insertion and extraction platform for special forces. SEALION II is a high-speed, low observable/low radar signature craft that can operate in the littorals. It can carry an unspecified number of SEALs and a modular mission payload. It has a state-of-the-art electronics suite."
The vessel stayed at our marina for a full week so we got to talk to the different crew several times, by the end of the week they were allowing families and their kids inside the vessel giving impromptu tours. I asked them why they were not at a military base like McDill Air force Base which is just around the corner from us. They said they did not have the electrical connections at their small marina that the vessel required. It seemed to take on a few different crew each day, go out in the morning and return near sundown. It had a large support crew with truck and big air-conditioned trailer. Everyone left at night but on most nights two guys stayed aboard.There were 11 guys who brought the vessel in but different numbers and different crew gong out each day. A few of the guys could have definitely been Navy Seals but most seemed to have other occupations, and a few did not appear military at all, more white collar types? Not sure what the mission was but it was easy to tell they all really enjoyed being part of this team. It was very stealth and it is listed as semi-submersible but it looked liked the whole thing could submerse. That flat gray paint made it hard to see even when it was just a short distance away. If you looked away for a minute it was difficult to find again.
Many from this community would come down to take a look at this unusual visitor to the Westshore Yacht Club Marina. I still wonder why on earth they chose this spot?