Update: Sea-Based X-Band Radar will be in Puget Sound tomorrow

We first told you last week (Wednesday report here, Friday report here) what should be quite a sight, both as it approaches West Seattle and as it spends the next three months at Vigor Shipyard (ex-Todd) on Harbor Island for work: The 280-foot-high Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX), which belongs to the Missile Defense Agency and is usually based in Alaska. We just got word from Pamela Rogers in MDA Public Affairs that it will “enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca later today and begin its transit of Puget Sound to arrive at Vigor Shipyards Seattle (formerly Todd Pacific Shipyards) in Seattle, Washington, late Tuesday night.”

The update adds, “The first view of the SBX for some residents in the Pacific Northwest will likely be when the vessel is just off shore before entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca tonight. It should be visible from Port Angeles Tuesday morning. The vessel can be seen from various points as it makes its way through Puget Sound to Elliott Bay and to Vigor Shipyards Seattle, arriving late Tuesday night.” The MDA reiterates that the radar will NOT operate while it’s here.

2:38 AM TUESDAY: You can follow the SBX’s progress via marinetraffic.com – as of this writing it has just passed Neah Bay on the northwestern tip of our state’s coast, and moved into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

18 Replies to "Update: Sea-Based X-Band Radar will be in Puget Sound tomorrow"

  • defenestrator May 9, 2011 (1:12 pm)

    Why am I reminded of the old TV show, “The Prisoner”?

  • Cheryl May 9, 2011 (4:15 pm)

    I just cannot get over the size of this thing. It’s shocking. And fascinating. Really looking forward to seeing it arrive in Elliot Bay.

  • WesCAddle May 9, 2011 (4:40 pm)

    If we knew the name of the ship that’s transporting it, it can be followed here:


  • MargL May 9, 2011 (5:27 pm)

    Wes – I’ve been watching that site the past couple days hoping to see something but also wondered if the Military would put such a tempting target on publicly accessible radar…

  • JayDee May 9, 2011 (5:36 pm)

    The AIS site does show many ships, but more sensitive naval subs and carriers are not typically shown on these maps. If Navy ships are shown, the “destination” field is blank.

    I checked for the whereabouts of the “Blue Marlin” carrier vessel in the file photo, and unfortunately, it is off Curacao…

  • Pete May 9, 2011 (7:26 pm)

    And to think that the good folks of Everett refused to let them dock the SBX on their shores. That is one of the locations that was investigated before it was placed in Adak, AL

  • k2 May 10, 2011 (8:17 am)

    thankfully they’re not turning that thing on!
    Do we know where it will live when they do turn it on? I’ll stay FAR away from it.

    • WSB May 10, 2011 (8:42 am)

      It is based in Alaska.

  • Yardvark May 10, 2011 (8:49 am)

    It’s so cool…yet so completely useless and inefficient. The SBX cost $900 million to build and, though it’s designed to be sea-based, it has spent about a third of its life, a full year and a half, just being repaired at port for millions more. (No wonder we cut education.) Nonetheless, it’ll be neat to see both the radar and the ship it comes in on. Big toys!

  • Nick May 10, 2011 (9:13 am)

    Looks like the government plans on blowing something up..

  • bs May 10, 2011 (11:24 am)

    By my calcs, it should arrive in Elliot Bay between 8:30pm and 9:00pm tonight!

  • fred May 10, 2011 (11:56 am)

    Currently approaching Dungeness Spit in the Straits

    Or search marinetraffic.com for ‘SBX 1’

    Star Wars

  • David Brown May 10, 2011 (3:53 pm)

    Visible on the port townsend tower cam right now: http://www.cityofpt.us/webcam/OutsideCam.asp

  • Bill May 10, 2011 (4:02 pm)

    4:00 pm here on Duwamish Head, and it is not in sight. I hope I do not miss seeing this rig come in.

  • seewhatsealionsstart May 10, 2011 (6:14 pm)

    6:15@ Golden Gardens/Shilshole and see it up off of Pt No Pt nearing Eglon across from Edmonds. Probably be close to a couple of hours before it’s near downtown.

  • Russ May 10, 2011 (6:38 pm)

    Believe I can see the radar dome now — a dot on horizon from my vantage at Alki Point.

  • seewhatsealionsstart May 10, 2011 (8:24 pm)

    I am at a friends house in north Greenwood, it just passed North beach and is nearing Golden Gardens. Might be a little dark by the time it hits WS, but it’s well lit and impressive.

  • Gary May 10, 2011 (9:37 pm)

    We can see it right now about off West Point (Magnolia). (Better with a spotting scope.) Blue flashing lights off either side, tugs, lots of lights on the deck giving an eerie soft glow to the dome in the gathering night sky.

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