Say goodbye to a temporary icon: SBX leaves tomorrow

(WSB photo from July)
The Missile Defense Agency just sent word that the SBX is leaving Harbor Island tomorrow, 3 months and 10 days after its late-night arrival drew crowds to West Seattle shores. We’re checking on an estimated time – meantime, here’s the announcement:

The Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX) will depart August 20th from Seattle, Washington where it has been undergoing scheduled maintenance and planned upgrades at Vigor Shipyards since May. The work has taken about three months to complete and was consistent with the normal work accomplished at Vigor for other government and commercial vessels.

The SBX is one of the sensors for our nation’s Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Its mission is to identify ballistic missile threats to our nation and to relay that information to the command and control center for missile defense.

A Naval Vessel Protection Zone, applicable to government vessels in transit and undergoing maintenance at Vigor Shipyards, will be applied to SBX as it departs. The US Coast Guard will be assisting with the NVPZ.

One month ago today, the seagoing radar dome drew crowds again as it left Vigor for a few hours so an oil-drilling ship could be moved in:

(July photo by Debra Herbst)
The SBX has been based in Alaska, though there’s no official word if it’s headed there next.

17 Replies to "Say goodbye to a temporary icon: SBX leaves tomorrow"

  • Noelle August 19, 2011 (1:49 pm)

    So Sad . . . I LOVE that thing! It is a Giant snow-ball of Happyness and just looks cool!

  • CMT August 19, 2011 (2:37 pm)

    Good-bye Radar Bubble – we will miss you!

  • sun*e August 19, 2011 (4:15 pm)

    Goodbye giant ping pong ball that glows in the dark…you will be missed. :-(

  • JoAnne August 19, 2011 (5:07 pm)

    Why are people on paddle boards out there without a survival suit? Maybe there is a rescue vessel nearby that is not shown in the picture?

    This is not California folks! Even an Olympic swimmer will lose the ability to move in less than 5 minutes or so in our cold northern waters.
    Please do not emulate this kind of behavior.

  • Thomas August 19, 2011 (6:37 pm)

    Bye rover!

  • 35this35mph August 19, 2011 (7:05 pm)

    I really love that second picture! It seems like a Northwest version of the Eewoks using their primitive technology to do battle wih the Battle Wakers and Death Star!!!

    Ummm, sorry was that out loud?

  • sun*e August 19, 2011 (11:33 pm)

    @35this35mph – I wish WSB had a “like” button. Yeah, that second pic is quite awesome…such a contrast between city life/technology and the primitive paddle board surfers.

    • WSB August 20, 2011 (12:58 am)

      Though we didn’t take that pic, it reminds me of my favorite video from the Seafair Parade of Ships, the paddleboarder watching the amphibious assault ship (“the one that looked like an aircraft carrier”) going by.

  • dave August 20, 2011 (12:13 am)


  • pibal August 20, 2011 (4:39 am)

    I have an idea! (Warning, warning… that’s always a dangerous sign!)

    When the SBX pulls out of Harbor Island, will someone please take a picture of that big white ball superimposed on top of the Space Needle?

    Now that would be a tee shot extraordinaire!

  • Paul August 20, 2011 (7:59 am)


    You’re being a little melodramatic. I have spent more than 5 minutes in Puget Sound in just a swimsuit and PFD and I didn’t stop moving.

    A wetsuit wouldn’t be a bad idea, but it is summer.

    • WSB August 20, 2011 (8:01 am)

      And today, it might get into the mid-80s.

  • let them swim August 20, 2011 (8:38 am)

    In the 60’s we went swimming all the time at Alki Bathhouse.
    There was a float 20-30 yards offsore from Bathhouse.
    A Lifeguard was even on duty.
    I know that for a fact because he was a best friend.
    We got cold but, swimming kept us moving and it was fun. On the surface the temp isn’t that bad.
    It’s not Alaska,(I’ve commercial fished out of
    Kodiak), and the temps up there are dangerous.
    We would stay in water for a heck of lot longer than five minutes. We’re in our sixies now and we didn’t freeze back in the “sixies” swim on!

  • g@alki August 20, 2011 (8:44 am)

    Who’s got the biggest ball of them all? We did. Bye Bye big ball.

    Joann, toughen up.

  • NotMe August 20, 2011 (8:54 am)

    Good… maybe now our sperm counts will go back up.

  • Immediately August 20, 2011 (12:01 pm)

    Farewell my big white boob



  • JoAnne August 20, 2011 (5:15 pm)

    Average temperature in Puget Sound is 12.8 deg C in summer and 7.2 deg C in winter, and that’s too cold for swimming for most people. The sound does not warm up much in spring and summer because of the freshets and snow melt. It is an estuary.

Sorry, comment time is over.