On its way to West Seattle (temporarily): Sea-Based X-Band Radar

Thanks to our friend Rebecca from Ravenna Blog, who watches the Coast Guard Local Notice to Mariners more closely than we do, for first word on this. What’s in the U.S. military photo above is the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, and it’s on its way to West Seattle’s Vigor (formerly Todd) Shipyards for $27 million in maintenance work also involving Boeing. It’ll be here for about three months, and is expected to arrive in the next week or so. The Sea-Based X-Band Radar belongs to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency; a news release described it as “one of the sensors for our nation’s missile-defense system … to identify ballistic-missile threats to our nation and relay that information to the communications, command and control center for missile defense.” It’s 240 feet wide, 390 feet long, and 280 feet high from the keel to the top of the radar dome. If you are a boater, note that there’s a “vessel protection zone” planned while it’s here – including a 100-yard keep-away zone. We’re told the media will be allowed in for a closer look while it’s here.

31 Replies to "On its way to West Seattle (temporarily): Sea-Based X-Band Radar"

  • RobertSeattle May 4, 2011 (1:14 pm)

    Lovely, I get to look at the world’s largest golf ball out my bedroom window.

  • Lulu May 4, 2011 (1:26 pm)

    This thing is huge. I’m pretty sure this is the same one I saw when I was in Hawaii back in December. It caused quite a stir there… lots of speculation as to its purpose.

    • WSB May 4, 2011 (1:30 pm)

      The Coast Guard will be charged with enforcing the 100-yard zone so we probably can expect to see more of them too, beyond accompanying ferries and doing training in the Zodiacs off Don Armeni … TR

  • Maggie \ May 4, 2011 (1:40 pm)

    I saw one very similar a couple weekends ago in Astoria, OR! The SS Pacific Tracker: http://twitpic.com/4oypy1 http://bit.ly/fHfLPf

  • Alki Resident May 4, 2011 (1:49 pm)

    Wow,that is so cool.Cant wait to see it.

  • dsa May 4, 2011 (3:06 pm)

    27 million in maintenance in three months, really?

  • Rebecca May 4, 2011 (3:22 pm)

    You’re welcome! It’s hard to see West Seattle news from way over here, but sometimes I manage.

  • bridge to somewhere May 4, 2011 (4:36 pm)

    it’s big, but it looks a little bigger in that photo because it’s on a transport ship. the actual radar sits lower in the water, as in this photo: http://www.mda.mil/global/images/system/sbx/img_2845.jpg
    i don’t know if its transport ship will be staying or not; if not, it’ll be about half as tall as it appears in the photo at the top of this article.

  • DP May 4, 2011 (4:58 pm)

    Looks like a stealth oil drilling rig to me.

  • Cheryl May 4, 2011 (5:35 pm)

    Whoa! That is huge!

  • PJB May 4, 2011 (6:44 pm)


  • Silverseattle May 4, 2011 (7:17 pm)

    When is it suppose to arrive in West Seattle

    • WSB May 4, 2011 (7:22 pm)

      Sometime next week.

  • I. Ponder May 4, 2011 (7:24 pm)

    That’s from the movie CONTACT. It’s a space/time thingy.

  • DTK May 4, 2011 (7:31 pm)

    Must… make… tin-foil… hat…

  • Lou May 4, 2011 (8:32 pm)

    I’m more excited about the ship…that thing actually sinks itself to offload the cargo – very cool to watch. I’ve only seen it on TV (NGC I think), hopefully we can see it action here.

    • WSB May 4, 2011 (9:02 pm)

      Lou – I should offer a caveat, I don’t know if there are other vessels that carry the radar – this image was the first military-and-therefore-available-to-use one that I found online (I have another one received by request from local military sources later and will save that for the next preview) … Everybody who has a view of the water, let us know the second you see this thing appear on the horizon, not sure how much advance notice we’ll get, likely will be early next week – TR

  • bridge to somewhere May 4, 2011 (10:15 pm)

    By the way, has anyone else seen that Matson cargo ship (the “Kauai”) at Harbor Island that has been under repair for several months and looks kind of like it is sinking? the first time I saw it’s aft low in the water I could have sworn it was sinking.

    • WSB May 4, 2011 (10:54 pm)

      BTS – I have received numerous questions about that. It’s not sinking. I have to call a guy at Matson to get the story on what it’s problem is. The same ship spent several months at Pier 66 overwintering last year, and also on Port prop the year before that.

  • bridge to somewhere May 5, 2011 (3:19 am)

    Ok, thanks WSB!

  • Manuel W. May 5, 2011 (8:08 am)

    BTS – Last I heard that ship’s bridge received heavy damage during a storm, and it was awaiting repairs. Not sure what the holdup is, that was YEARS ago. Looking forward to Tracy’s findings.

  • mpento May 5, 2011 (9:27 am)

    Damn it I’ll need to line the inside of my place with aluminium foil. Why do they need to bring it in for repairs? Ha! just coming in for closer range. Rumor has it there was concern that behavior modification was not working indicated by all the speeders in West Seattle. So now they are bringing in the big guns! Some effects of x-band exposure are thinking that politicans are interested in the common good, spending more money than you have is good for the economy and the system isn’t great but it works OK

  • bridge to somewhere May 5, 2011 (10:41 am)

    Thanks for the info Manuel!

  • Brandon May 5, 2011 (11:25 am)

    I grabbed a picture of it at its home away from home in Pearl Harbor earlier this year. It’s supposed to be stationed out of Adak Alaska but apparently spends most of its time undergoing repairs and upgrades to the hardware. It is HUGE when seen in person and will cast a mighty shadow if it sits over at Todd. Will be cool to see for sure.

  • Carrie May 5, 2011 (11:26 am)

    Will the radar be active while it’s getting maintenance? I don’t want that kind of radiation.

  • Yardvark May 5, 2011 (1:50 pm)

    27 million just to keep it afloat and working?Wow. That’s not too reliable. I was
    mad when my car cost me $600. This thing must be an antique. Can’t we just use google maps to see when missiles are coming?

    It’s really cool and all, but there’s gotta be a more efficient method.

  • Sonoma May 6, 2011 (1:56 am)

    Ha! Maybe they can raise some of the $27 million with product placement on the big white “golf ball.” Titleist, are you listening?

  • dbsea May 6, 2011 (4:25 pm)

    So cool, I won’t even need my microwave anymore.
    Just stand out front with my frozen / cold whatever and presto!

    • WSB May 6, 2011 (4:29 pm)

      FYI, I am told it will NOT be operating while here. That factoid will be in an update I am in the process of writing right now, up shortly. – TR

  • DAZ May 11, 2011 (12:05 pm)

    Thanks to those investigating that Matson ship on Harbor Island. Every day I keep thinking…”when the hell is it leaving?”

    • WSB May 11, 2011 (12:29 pm)

      I have one unofficial answer and it’s not very glamorous, I still want to talk to the Matson guy. Maybe this pm. I finally got something of a photo of it while riding in the back seat of a police car westbound on the bridge yesterday. More on THAT later too. – TR

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