by Brandon Mercer

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Yachts are supposed to be white, so when a dark, angular, $33 million stealth ship pulls up at a local marina next to a bunch of fiberglass pleasure boats that haven’t changed basic designs in 50 years, heads turn, cameraphones are raised, and questions are asked.  Answers, however, are not given.

This week, what is believed to be the “Galeocerdo” was anchored off Sausalito.  The Cayman Islands flagged super yacht is described by Super Yacht Times  as a 118-foot, 17,000+ horsepower, 70 mile per hour jetboat tested in the Ferrari wind tunnel and built to do unbelievable things on the water by boat builder WallyPower for the Kondakji family, according to several blogs.

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It’s the only one built yet in a class called the Wally 118, and the builder calls it the most distinctive and fastest motor yacht in the world.   If you didn’t know any better, you might think it’s the villain’s vessel in James Bond’s “Tomorrow Never Dies.”

While it’s hard to find out much more about this ship, what anyone watching the water will tell you is more and more innovative ships like this are going to start pulling up next to white chunky Grand Banks cabin cruisers.

Part of it is military design, with builders expecting spinoff sales to private customers.

Juliet Marine Systems GHOST ship is being tested for the military, but the company proudly announces commercial models will be available, built to your specs.  At this market level, it better be built to users specs!

Juliet Marine won’t say exactly how fast it goes, just “extremely fast,” and if looks are any indication of speed potential, we’re inclined to take them on their word.

The designs have a few things in common:  Angular hulls, which both deflect radar for the military, and deflect waves for a smooth ride.

Some of these vessels–unfortunately, not the Galeocerdo–are even more advanced, riding ABOVE the water, instead of pushing their way through it.  The GHOST ship, and many other military concept ships are designed to rise up out of the water.

The GHOST uses two long, slender tubes under the water (think torpedoes) to power the ship and provide buoyancy, while the hull itself raises well out of the water.

Another design, the M80 Stiletto being tested now rides up on a cushion of air, lifting it out of the water, without using any complex structures under the surface.  

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Older designs have been in use since the 1970s, using hydrofoils to fly above the water, on small wings under the water that raise the hull. 

All these forms dramatically reduce drag on the boat, increasing speed and efficiency.

Sound familiar?GMR_AC34SepD23_6377

The Bay Area is getting used to things like this.  The America’s Cup showed the world the power of a hydrofoil.  While we witnessed nautical history firsthand with the futuristic sailing vessels, we just haven’t seen the powerboat versions yet.  Get ready, more will be coming in the next decade.

Another advantage to these besides the speed of “flying” above the water is their stability.  As the waves don’t pound the hull, the ships don’t bounce around, creating an incredibly stable ride for wealthy, seasickness-prone landlubbers, or for firing weapons at the enemy.

Other radar-invisible ships of far larger size are being seen around the world. Here’s a “Stealth Ship” in San Diego Harbor captured on Twitter, but again, this ship is traditional in that it has no hydrofoils to lift it out of the seas. 

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