CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Sea-Based X-Band Radar platform, shown off Honolulu Harbor, left Thursday for Alaska, where it is designed to be integrated into the military's Ballistic Missile Defense System.
Radar leaves Pearl Harbor for second time
Oahu lost a giant landmark when the Missile Defense Agency's powerful floating radar sailed out of Pearl Harbor for its new home port in Alaska -- its second attempt to leave the islands in about one month.
The radar initially left Hawaii in late March but had to turn around four days later when sea water leaked through the ballast piping on its floating platform.
Missile Defense Agency spokeswoman Pam Rogers said yesterday that repairs to the piping have been completed, enabling the radar's vessel to attempt a second departure for an expected arrival in Alaska later this spring. The ship left Pearl Harbor Thursday morning.
The Sea-Based X-Band Radar first arrived in the islands in January en route to its new port in Adak, Alaska, from Texas where it was built. The giant radar dome dominated the skyline around Pearl Harbor, with residents growing to instantly recognize the King Kong-size golf ball-like shape from miles away.
The radar rises some 28 stories from its keel to the top of the radar dome.
Advanced enough to identify baseball-size objects thousands of miles away, the apparatus is part of a missile defense network the U.S. military is currently rolling out in the Pacific Rim.
It is designed to help the missile defense system identify incoming missile targets for interceptor missiles the U.S. military has buried in California and Alaska silos.
Engineers could have repaired the radar platform at sea after it last left Pearl Harbor, but the Missile Defense Agency decided to bring the vessel back to port because it was still close enough to Hawaii.
The damages to the ballast piping affected the radar's ability to partially submerge and re-emerge from the water. The Missile Defense Agency has said the financial cost of the damage would be minimal.
The $815 million radar is mounted on a self-propelled, converted oil rig platform and is designed to travel by sea to any location where the military needs to track missiles.