Tested by the US Navy from 2005 to 2008, the Sea Fighter FSF-1 is considered the most modern warship of the US. Sea Fighter is both a coastal patrol vessel and amphibious assault support, so independent operation is very simple for this ship.
Sea Fighter is known as an experimental littoral combat ship project, developed under the program title Littoral Surface Craft-Experimental. The first and only ship built to date has been designated as FSF-1 or X-Craft. The design of the ship was a British collaboration, which was ordered on February 15, 2003. Its keel was laid down on June 5, 2003 and was launched on February 10, 2005.
Basically the hull is designed to be a twin hull, constructed out of aluminum, which provides exceptional stability when operating on the sea, in all weather conditions. Sea Fighter can operate on rough seas, in both blue and littoral waters. The FSF-1 maintains a very different configuration when compared to other US Navy Littoral Combat Ships. The displacement of the ship is 1,600 tons, the length is 79.89m, the beam is 21.9m and the draft is 3.5m.
The superstructure is located at the bow of the ship, which is also the place where the flight control center is located. The two heliport occupies most of the deck area and can accommodate medium helicopters such as the US Navy Seahawk helicopter. In addition, it can provide full service for a number of small and medium-sized drones.
The bridge is quite small in the overall design of the ship, which is operated by a 3-man crew. The control stations are characterized by glass windows, convenient for patrolling coastal areas at high speed. The air traffic control tower can cover the entire aircraft deck, supporting the operations of helicopters onboard as well as other loading missions. The ship is completely controlled by wire, there is a computer system specifically designed to control its systems and for navigation. The lighting system is specially designed for flight decks, it uses low intensity blue light, which is especially effective when using night vision goggles. Helicopters can easily operate in night environments, even when Sea Fighter is at high speed.
As an amphibious ship, Sea Fighter is capable of launching small craft up to up to 11m in length from the stern. In addition it can accommodate service for assault craft and submersibles by means of a custom dual-purpose ramp that also enables roll-on roll-off operations for Humvee and other vehicles.
In terms of propulsion, the vessel is powered by a combined diesel or gas arrangement consisting of two MTU 595 diesel engines to operate in cruise mode. In addition, Sea Fighter is equipped with two LM2500 gas turbines, which provide high power for high speed operations. With the proper arrangement of the hull, plus the four-water jets, Sea Fighter can reach speeds of 50 knots and beyond, range can reach 4,400 nautical miles without refueling.
- Sea Harrier – The naval version of the famous Harrier Jump Jet
- ROKS Dokdo – The best amphibious assault ship in Asia
- Mistral L9013 – The giant amphibious assault ship of France
The water jets drawing water from the bottom stern of each hull and powering it through large water turbines. Each water jet has thrust vectoring and thrust reversers making it possible to move sideways while docking, or even travelling in astern. Thrust vectoring also makes it possible for Sea Fighter to make evasive maneuvers while travelling at high speed. This would prevent the craft from being forced to shore or into the path of enemy vessels. For the US Navy, Sea Fighter serves as an experimental project, so armed options are still being considered.
The hull’s capabilities will be explored to develop more similar types of vessels to patrol coastal waters in the United States. With its high range and speed, Sea Fighter is expected to pave the way for a new class of destroyers capable of moving fast enough to avoid or overcome most of the current generation of torpedoes. Such vessels will be able to cross the Atlantic without refueling. With a unique hull design and very low radar signature, detecting them will be difficult. Sea Fighter will be able to respond quickly to air targets or to attack surface ships and submarines, on the other hand, it can use its speed to avoid torpedoes and missile attacks.