Saturday, November 04, 2006

Mysterious "Spider Boat"

These pictures were taken in the Port of Ilwaco on the Washington State coast. The crew wore civilian clothes but guarded the boat closely and would not answer any questions. It was suggested it may be something Boeing is working on. The pontoons appear to be made of very thick rubber and may be fuel cells. Note that each of the steel spider-like legs are jointed in three places. Perhaps the boat can be lowered in calm seas and raised when it is rough. The boat had no name or number...

A friend who lives there said it arrived out of the fog the night before.

Rivrdog's new yacht?

The crew would not say who they were or where they were from, and were not allowed to discuss the craft. Notice how the rear of the cabin can be lowered into the water but has a very small prop .

One man stayed on the float at all times ... none wore uniforms.

Looking a bit like the bridge of a spacecraft, the mystery vessel's cockpit hangs about 15 feet above the water.

Then on October 6, in San Francisco Bay:

Today's photo of the day is of Marina Bay's newest tenant. A number of readers alerted us to the arrival of this unique craft on Tuesday, so we did some research - or at least tried to. Precious little is publicly available about this craft, but we were able to dig up a few facts: It was designed by prolific Bay Area yacht designer Jim Antrim from Ugo Conti's original concept; it's 100 feet long and 50 feet wide; it's powered by twin diesel engines; the inflatable hulls were built by Arcata's Wing Inflatables; the craft was assembled in Anacortes, WA (where it was spotted several times during apparent sea trials); and it's capable of crossing oceans with "as much, if not more, stability than a normal catamaran," according to Jim Antrim.

As we were snapping this shot a fellow gawker noted, "It looks like a windshield wiper." In reality, it's one of four gigantic shock absorbers.

It's all very hush-hush, but a press conference is forthcoming in the next few weeks that will hopefully answer the most pressing question: "What's it for?" We'll let you know as soon as we find out, built.

Followup: Several places on the web seem to have just about the same information on this interesting craft, but some big questions remain unanswered, such as who owns it, and what do they plan to use it for?. I found one picture that shows the "Aft Cabin" section being a separate unit that can be used as a launch. The picture also shows the craft in motion and by the amount of water thrown up astern, it looks like it's a jetboat, rather than conventional propellers. Although the legs are attached to the hulls with large leaf springs, I don't see any damping, or shock absorbers. I wonder why not?
This post is from an email from MaryS. Original source is not known......


At Sunday, November 05, 2006 8:18:00 AM, Blogger Rivrdog said...

It's all private money building it from what I've been able to gather. That rules out the usual shadow force behind strange small craft - Israel.

Notice that the boat is built very spartan in the cabin - not at all a luxury yacht.

The design appears to have two functions: to get the control cabin high aloft, and with great stability.

That considered, it appears to be a long-distance craft designed and built for observing.

My guess is the new owner is Greenpeace.

The other possibility is that it is an ocean-crosser designed to take some sort of ocean-crossing record. Since it's essentially an inflatable catamaran, it won't take any powered speed records, so that leaves only some sort of endurance records, maybe most miles for fewest stops, or something like that.

I still think it's a Greenpeace boat.

BTW, it's a stupid design. The diesels are in the aft protion of the inflatable sponsons, which are set so wide apart that if you suffer an engine failure, the boat is incapable of proceeding on the other engine, except in circles. That's not a seaworthy design (since there appear NOT to be any other form of propulsion available), and I have to wonder if they got a seaworthiness certificate for the new boat.

If they didn't, it can't be sold, except to a private buyer who can't carry passengers.

At Sunday, November 05, 2006 8:45:00 AM, Blogger Fodder said...

I agree with RiverDog on propulsion. Unless it's got a deisel-electric hybrid to power both shafts in the pontoons an engine failure would be catastrophic. I suppose cross power via hydraulic could fit in those supports but electric would be simpler and lighter.

It looks stable but not fast.

Interesting though, thanks for sharing.

At Sunday, November 05, 2006 1:36:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Completely said...

Aren't there regulations regarding registering and numbering vessels in U.S. Waters, particularly when it's 100' long?

I wonder if it's something for an upcoming James Bond movie.....

...... Mr. C.

At Sunday, November 05, 2006 1:44:00 PM, Blogger The Conservative UAW Guy said...

It is kind of cool.

At Monday, November 06, 2006 6:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This 100ft long catamaran looks like something out of the War of the Worlds.
Its engine pods are hinged to the back of the hulls to keep the propulsion system submerged even if the stern of one or both hulls lift out of the water when crossing waves.

The 50 feet wide craft is powered by twin diesel engines and her inflatable hulls were built by Arcata's Wing Inflatables at Anacortes, north of Seattle in the US where she has undergone sea trials.

Invented by US designer Jim Antrim, from a concept created by Ugo Conti of Marina Advanced Research, the craft's flexible hulls are coupled to a "cabin" between and above the hulls, thereby allowing the hulls to independently follow the surface of the water.

from a google of the words "spider boat"


At Monday, November 06, 2006 6:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

google "antrim catamaran"

At Tuesday, November 07, 2006 1:02:00 PM, Anonymous faeringer said...

My guess is it is for ferrying a "bi-modal" European type canal boat across open water, say, around the British Isle or from the Thames to the Seine, say maybe it is a Bond prop...

Or given, its present location, it may be for bi-modal operation in the inland waterways of the Pacific Northwest.

My first mental image was of an aquatic Thunderbird 2!

At Tuesday, November 07, 2006 3:21:00 PM, Blogger bjbarron said...

Engineering aside, I think it looks kind of dumb. My first thought was that the cabin looked like cross between a 30s flying boat and the cupola on a blimp.

At any speed, with a head wind, it looks unstable.

At Wednesday, November 08, 2006 9:22:00 AM, Anonymous faeringer said...

" I don't see any damping, or shock absorbers. I wonder why not?"

The leaf springs absorb the shock (and spread the load). I should think that the water should be adequate for damping, afterall,
shock absorbers commonly employ fuilds for damping.

At Thursday, November 09, 2006 12:36:00 PM, Blogger DirtCrashr said...

WaterWorld II maybe? Another Costner epic?

At Monday, November 13, 2006 7:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

more pictures are here:

At Thursday, November 16, 2006 6:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Designed to sneak close to shore so as to allow short-range nuclear devices to be delivered using sub-sonic missiles.

Under the radar--- all the way.

Can thou sayeth North Korea?

Using this craft and without official USA government attachment... plausible deniability is the goal.

At Tuesday, April 03, 2007 12:48:00 AM, Anonymous ozboatie said...

CAn it sail??


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