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The Secret US Military 'Ghost' Ship is For Sale

By: Scott Way

Juliet Marine Systems 'Ghost' ship
The Juliet Marine Systems 'Ghost'

One of the most unusual ships in naval history is for sale. The Juliet Marine Systems Ghost, a military experiment in tactical aquatics and extreme coolness, has been on the list of 'secret military programs' citizens have sheepishly coveted for years. Her playful game of cat and mouse with the public eye was fun for both sides until it eventually became the "old Faithful" of naval public relations alongside other 'secret' programs like the B2 Stealth Bomber and the Seawolf class submarine.

Sadly, her stealth is no longer needed for military purposes (for reasons we'll discuss shortly), and so she's ready to go public. The Ghost is currently for sale by Berthon Brokerage at a bargain price of $2 million US, a sizeable discount from the estimated $6 million build price and $12 million sale price quoted by the US military during its heyday.

The vessel itself is an engineering marvel. Despite being commissioned in 2007 the design is so forward-thinking the Navy still hasn't caught up yet (or so they’d have us believe...). The Ghost employs a SWATH design, which stands for Small-Waterplane-Area Twin Hull, and utilizes two pontoons to ferry 16 passengers and 3-5 crew 12 feet above the water. Its unique suspension system stabilizes the crew compartment independently of the pontoons, and two hybrid turbine engines at the front of each pontoon produce minimal drag and a top speed of 30 knots. The coolest part, of course, is her sleekness. Its canted sides and flat panels offer "tactical maneuverability" and a "low radar signature," which is military jargon for "perfect for fishing" and "free parking."

As an interesting side note, the true story of the dissolution of the Ghost program, at least in military contexts, is pure madness. In a nutshell, the US government elected not to proceed with the Ghost, but they didn’t want anyone else to have her either. After Juliet Marine Systems became entangled with the US Navy to develop the ship, the shenanigans that followed make the DMV look efficient by comparison. There were threats of lawsuits over patent rights, shutdown orders from shadowy government higher-ups, and strong-arm contract negotiations until the Ghost went from a civilian passion project to a government ‘secret.’ The saga is so full of government theatrics that US Navy Rear Admiral and Juliet Marine Systems advisor Jay Cohen summed it up by saying: “this is either incompetence at its height or it’s a Machiavellian plot." Juliet Marine systems founder Gregory Sancoff was less subtle: "I had secrecy orders slapped on my company. They took it anyway. They went and they grabbed my four patents, put secrecy orders on them, and they didn’t call me." Here's hoping for a Netflix documentary.

With the government in-fighting finally complete, the Ghost is ready to live out its days sneaking past marina attendants to avoid paying docking fees. From the brokerage's own description: "Use your imagination; this could be an exotic ferry, an oilrig supply boat, a super cool party boat or a security boat for a private home/island or perhaps for piracy prevention patrols! A go-fast, no matter what the sea conditions are – or where you are – vessel."

If you're in the market, the Ghost is currently moored in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and comes with a tandem trailer. If you're thinking about a road trip to pick up one of the government's best unkept secrets, consider paying in cash and staying off the main roads.

We've previously covered the Ghost and its big brother the Sea Shadow in 8 Designs That Changed Boating (For Better or Wose). Check out the brokerage video for the Ghost below:

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