First Taker Of Ghost: The US Government Or Other Countries?
Is this stealth attack vessel too high-tech and innovative for the Pentagon?
A vessel with the chiseled angles of a Nighthawk stealth aircraft called “Ghost” has a 38-foot main hull designed to travel above the water’s surface. It is propped up by two narrow, 12-foot struts, razor-sharp at the front to allow them to cut through ocean debris.
A 62-foot long tube containing a gas turbine engine is attached to each strut. Upward and downward movements of the struts are allowed by the hinges. When the boat is parked or traveling through shallow waters, they can be extended to the side. At speeds of 8 knots or higher, the struts can rotate downward to lift the hull into the air to get rid of the jarring impact of waves.
The two 2,000 horsepower engines provide power to the 4 propellers positioned at the tubes’ fronts, pulling the craft and creating a gas bubble around each tube through air funneling down through the struts. The effect is called supercavitation, which means the vessel can make a bubble and fly through it.
Ghost Offers A Smooth Ride
Unlike other types of boats, the Ghost offers a smooth ride. Owned by a self-made millionaire Gregory Sancoff, who initially ventured into medical technology companies, the Ghost was built entirely on his design and specs. Sancoff registered his 18-staff startup, Juliet Marine Systems with an initial investment of $15 million for the project.
Ghost: Sea-based Attack Helicopter
According to Sancoff, Ghost could serve as an attack helicopter of the sea which can be used for:
- conducting coastal defense
- anti-terrorism missions
- protecting naval vessel from swarm attacks
Multi-Purpose Functions Of Ghost
The non-magnetic Ghost used aluminum and stainless steel requiring tons of 18-8 stainless steel standard washers for the thousands of bolts and rivets that put them together. The boat is difficult to target using sonar because it was designed with no radar signature at all. This makes Ghost suitable for:
- getting into denied-access ocean areas and able to last for 30 days without the need to refuel
- listening to cell phone conversations
- monitoring what’s going on
- launching operations
- leaving a place without anyone noticing it was there
Ghost: The US Navy Has Nothing Like It
Sancoff says all of these capabilities are not available in any of the present vessels of the government. Even the US Navy doesn’t have anything that can compare to the functionalities of Ghost.
Targeting The US Defense Department To Sign On
And the Ghost is ready for launching tests on speed and stability and subsequently building new and more refined models to add to the fleet. Sancoff is hopeful that the Defense Department will see the value of the vessel enough to sign a $10 million contract for one Ghost. Some of the top government officials including the vice chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michelle Howard, have recently toured the vessel. Admiral Howard led the rescue on the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking.
Unusual Technology May Make It A Hard Sell
While hopeful, Sancoff also understands that it won’t be an easy sell especially because Ghost is from a small startup company and that the technology it offers is very unusual and one-of-a-kind. Unless they get to see the vessel itself with all its functionalities and capabilities, they wouldn’t know or understand what the company is doing.
From Medical Devices To Weaponry
The vessel is Sancoff’s first attempt to build a weapons platform where he brought his principle that he isn’t going to work on something that someone else can do. Sancoff is bent on working on the hardest problem. Otherwise he wouldn’t waste his time. And Ghost clearly showed that.
Prior to setting up Juliet Marine Systems, Sancoff had his focus on medical devices, inventing products including:
- a computerized IV pump
- a tool that allows surgeons to suture needleless
Need For An Improved Small Craft
His father, a decorated Army sergeant served in the World War II under General George Patton, After his death, Sancoff contemplated on shifting his focus to weaponry. It was reinforced when he saw 17 sailors on board a billion-dollar ship killed by suicide bombers on a cheap little boat with $500 worth of explosives, back in 2000. That was immediately followed by a Navy report about an exercise where a Navy attacked a battle group with small, high-speed boats, at the end of which the US lost over 20,000 servicemen. Sancoff knew at that time what the Navy badly needed – an improved small craft. Hence, in 2007 Juliet Marine Systems was born and Sancoff started building the vessel he later on called Ghost, but not without extreme challenges.
Sancoff said they had been forbidden by the US Patent and Trademark Office and the Office of Naval Research to talk with anyone including potential investors about the technology it filed for a patent through a secrecy order. Following that order, work and trials on Ghost were done only at night; propellers covered with blankets; boat moved in the dark; and no pictures were allowed to be taken. The secrecy order was lifted two years later without any explanation just like when the order was served. And Sancoff continued with the work on Ghost.
Other Countries Are Interested In Ghost Technology
Will the US government take the Ghost? Sancoff has no clear picture of that yet, knowing how the military procurement procedures are. What he knows however is that 7 US allies including Israel, Korea and Qatar have expressed interest in the vessel. And Sancoff understood that – other countries adopt new technology much more openly and quicker and the US.
Sancoff said it might take years for the government to realize the need for a vessel like Ghost as it did with the Wright Brothers’ airplane, which he said got a contract from France before the US government signed on. It could be the same for Ghost.
Do you think the US Navy will go for Ghost?