What glides across the water at speeds up to 60 miles per hour yet escapes detection by radar? A radical new boat — appropriately named the Ghost — that's being designed under top-secret conditions. While even the most slippery of hull designs are slowed down by waves and currents, the Ghost's hull reduces friction 900 times better than ordinary boats, making this new boat astonishingly fast on the water. Here, a brief guide to this development:
How does the Ghost work?
The Ghost's secret is something called "supercavitation," which occurs when an object moving rapidly through water surrounds itself with a low-pressure area, allowing the object to move even faster. At very high speeds, that low-pressure area becomes a thin layer of air, which lets the Ghost slip through the water much faster and more efficiently than other boats. "We're reducing hull friction, which hasn't changed much since the Vikings," says developer Greg Sancoff, as quoted by SeacoastOnline. "It's like breaking the sound barrier." The boat's radical design also allows it to elude detection by radar since radar waves bounce harmlessly off its surface, instead of back toward the sender.
Who designed the Ghost?
The boat was developed by Juliet Marine Services of Portsmouth, N.H., in an old ship captain's house from 1725. The building is now ringed by surveillance cameras and other security equipment, in keeping with the secretive nature of the project, which has aroused interest from the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the defense industry.
What will the Ghost be used for?
In addition to international shipping (which currently consumes a great deal of fossil fuels), the highly efficient boat has immense potential in law enforcement and military operations where speed and secrecy are critical. The Ghost could, for instance, help defeat drug runners and evade modern-day pirates.
When will the Ghost be available?
Not for some time; the boat that Juliet Marine Services just unveiled is a prototype. The company is designing a larger, 150-foot vessel through a partnership with an unnamed international defense company. Budget concerns, however, may slow the Ghost's development: "This is a tough budget time to be introducing any technology," says naval analyst Eric Wertheim.