Navy’s stealth vessel intrigues almost as much as pollen

April 23, 2021

We live in a waterfront community, so it’s no surprise that last week’s column about Norfolk, its aircraft carriers and the experimental Navy vessel we encountered during our boat travels between Charleston and Annapolis generated quite a bit of interest.

The photograph of the dry-docked aircraft carrier caught Lewes Councilman Andrew Williams’ eye.

“The aircraft carrier in the article is the USS Harry S. Truman,” he wrote. “My brother Brett is on the USS John C. Stennis. He’s the air operations officer onboard. It’s about to head into refueling and complex overhaul for the next four years.”

Andrew said Brett graduated from Cape Henlopen High School in 1999 and from Duke's Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 2003. “Eighteen years in the Navy and now a commander, Brett earned his wing on the USS Truman.”

Several readers sent me information on the space-age looking catamaran described in the column. The vessel is actually a pentamaran, meaning it has five tubed hulls. It is known officially as an M80 Stiletto and is designed for stealth operations involving Navy special ops sailors known as SEALs.

What follows is information about the Stiletto included in an article on the internet encyclopedia site Wikipedia:

The M80 Stiletto is a U.S. Navy vessel designed for combat in shallow coastal waters. The 88-foot Stiletto's unusual shape and patented M-hull provides a stable yet fast platform for mounting electronic surveillance equipment or weapons, or for conducting special operations. The hull design does not require foils or lifting devices to achieve a smooth ride at high speeds in rough conditions. Its shallow draft means the M80 Stiletto can operate in littoral and riverine environments and potentially allows for beach landings.

“The M80 Stiletto is equipped with four Caterpillar 1652 horsepower engines yielding a top speed in excess of 60 knots and a range of 500 nautical miles when fully loaded.

Historically, ships have evolved to become narrower and deeper to achieve speed and stability. Instead, the M Hull uses its width to gain stability. Its five slim hulls create virtually no bow wave, thus obviating the ‘hull speed’ limitation of displacement craft. The Stiletto's ‘double-M hull’ enables the craft to achieve a remarkably steady ride in rough seas at high speed, which makes the ride more comfortable and safer for military passengers.”

Pollen season upon us

In Dr. Seuss’s popular children's book titled “Bartholomew and the Oobleck,” the author describes a strange green, sticky substance that fell from the sky. Royal magicians conjured up the oobleck on the orders of an impatient and bored king dissatisfied with the rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog and mist brought forth by nature from the sky’s clouds. He wanted something new and different, more exciting. His wish came true, but the king came to regret his request. You’ll have to read the book to find out why.

But that green oobleck puts me in mind of the pollen falling heavily now from loblollies and other pines in forests across the Delmarva Peninsula. When a thunderstorm passed across the region Wednesday afternoon, it blew clouds of pollen out of the pines, creating spin art-like designs on puddles and waterways large and small, coating cars and houses with thick, uniform layers of green dust, keeping screened porches shut up for at least a few more weeks.

The Wednesday storm that ripped across the peninsula stripped much of the loblolly pollen, but the candles of other pines still hold plenty more of the powdery, sticky stuff for us to enjoy a while longer.

Old King Derwin of the Kingdom of Didd can keep his oobleck. We have plenty to take care of with our own version.


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter