The saga of the Sea-based X-Band radar SBX continues. When last we heard from our favorite floating missile defense system on December 22nd, it was leaving from Hawaiian waters to its deployment point of Adak island in Alaska.
(Missile Defense Agency)
The Investigative Unit has learned that by December 27th, the SBX was pulling back into the naval base at Pearl Harbor for repairs.
As we reported in our first blog post about the SBX program (see below), the supply ship Dove is considered a worrisome point of failure by an independent assessment team of former Navy admirals and engineers. The thinking is: the Dove breaks down or doesn't work properly, and the SBX radar's only source of supplies and fuel is gone.
According to sources within the Missile Defense Agency, the assessment team's concerns may be well founded. The SBX changed course and headed back to Pearl because there was water in its massive diesel tanks. But it wasn't salt water that contaminated the diesel as the SBX took in fuel from the Dove out at sea. It was fresh water…fresh water that likely originated from somewhere on the Dove itself. No word on how the fresh water may have been transferred over during the fueling process.
According to the Missile Defense Agency, the SBX is back at sea and on its way again to Adak, the fuel problem presumably worked out.
A SECRET MISSION? In other SBX news, the Department of Defense recently sent a letter of appreciation to a handful of crew and staff members of the SBX program. The funny thing is, the DOD didn't say in the commendation exactly what it was they did so well. You can see a mention of it here at the Seafarers International Union site.
"…The SBX was tasked to perform a classified special mission that was mandated by and in support of the Secretary of Defense…their professionalism and dedication were evident throughout this critical event." The critical event apparently lasted from June 14 to July 5, 2006. So what was it that the SBX and her crew did so commendably?
A spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency said,"SBX was standing by for data collection during (North Korean) launches in July, but since the ICBM-class missile failed so soon after launch and at such a low altitude there was obviously no data collection."
Volleyball on the Lido Deck anyone?