The Navy built one prototype of a class of small, inexpensive ships backed by Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski in 2001 and which I wrote about Friday. Last Monday, NASA used it to retrieve an experimental space capsule heat shield off the coast of North Carolina following a rocket launch from Wallops Island, Va.
The prototype 88-foot “Streetfighter,” dubbed the “Stiletto” when it first went into service in 2006, has been somewhat an orphan since then. The Navy continued to build large expensive ships rather than hundreds of small craft espoused by Cebrowski, who said in 2005 that the future of naval warfare belonged to “the small, the fast and the many . . . and we should get with it.”
The sole Stiletto is operated by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Carderock, Va., out of Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. Besides the NASA missions it has been deployed on a couple of counternarcotics operations in the Caribbean.
I think the Navy wishes the Stiletto would go away. It cost $6 million, and no Admiral wants to hoist his flag on a ship whose cost amounts to a rounding error.