Admiral’s Barge

Admiral's BargeThat image to the right is not the Admiral's Barge. It's the Sea-Based X-band Radar or SBX. But had it not been for Rear Admiral Dixon Smith and his "Barge", I would have been able to get this close up view. The SBX is one of those vessels you see out of the corner of your eye as you drive on H-1 past Pearl Harbor. It's distinctive appearance cannot escape the golf ball comparisons. You'd have to have a pretty big club to whack that puppy, but I digress. Seeing the SBX does make you think: 1. What is it? and 2. How does it float? The simple answer to 1. is it's a big floating radar. The SBX, part of the DOD's Missile Defense Agency , has a mission is to patrol the Pacific and monitor rouge countries like North Korea. I started to see SBX float into Pearl Harbor a couple years ago ever since North Korea got more active with their ballistic missile tests with claims of having the capabilities to send one all the way to Hawaii. Which brings me to question number 2. The radar system is build on a Russian designed platform originally used for oil rigs. In this photo you can see the huge floats that the main structure stands on. The SBX supports a crew of about 80 personnel. That flat platform you see extending from the main deck is the helicopter landing area. I wondered how people access this vessel once out at sea and that platform was pointed out to me. Admiral's BargeNow getting back to the Admiral's Barge, I (and a few other guests) got invited by Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs to join Rear Adm. Dixon Smith and his wife Kiki on an afternoon cruise around Pearl Harbor and Ford Island. Besides my wife and I, guests includes Henry Kapono and his wife, Mark Platte (Hawaii News Now) and his wife and Agnes Tauyan (Navy Region Hawaii, Public Affairs) and her husband. The main destination was the Arizona Memorial which I had visited once before decades ago. It was quite a humbling experience to stand in the Memorial atop the sunken USS Arizona where more than a thousand men gave their lives. We cruised up along side the USS Missouri and docked a the Arizona Memorial to spend a few moments to honor those fallen soldiers. The time there was special since the last tour group had already exited leaving the entire Memorial to the 10 of us. The cruise continued around Ford Island, along the NOAA docking, then past Hospital Way on the Hickam AFB side of Pearl Harbor and finally back to Merry Point in the Southeast Loch.  I overheard in conversation, it looks like the NOAA offices, currently spread around O`ahu will consolidate on Ford Island sometime in the near future. Sounds like a good thing since their big ships are located there. The bustle of maritime activity in Pearl Harbor never ceases to amaze.

6 thoughts on “Admiral’s Barge”

  1. The Admirals tour that you went on is actually open to anyone with a Military ID card (Active, Retired, Guard, etc). Your cruise was special in that you were actually with the Admiral but the boat moored to the right of his is for touring also. Many military personnel are just unaware of this tour.

  2. I always see that giant white ball around Pearl Harbor and wonder what the heck it is. Then one day I saw it moving pretty fast and realized it’s mobile.
    For those who haven’t seen it in person, it’s HUGE! Watching it move is pretty amazing.

  3. You mean that ain’t an upcoming Nike promo featuring Michelle Wie teeing off on this gigantic golfball?

    And yep, NOAA’s new facility is in the making.

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