Quick, to the hydrofoil! Experimental Navy ship for sale

Jack Murphy
December 02, 2019 - 11:54 am
USS High Point

National Archives


The USS High Point is now listed for sale by broker Hal Palmer where it is currently docked in Astoria, Oregon. The High Point was the Navy's first experimental hydrofoil which was built back in 1962.

Navy History and Heritage Command offers this description of the High Point and its capabilities: "High Point is the first of a series of hydrofoil craft designed to evaluate the performance of this kind of propulsion in the modern Navy. She has three submerged foils containing propulsion nacelles and propellers and is also capable of riding on her hull like a more conventional ship. On her foils, High Point is capable of very high-speed operation and can add mobility and flexibility to America's antisubmarine forces. The craft carried out tests in Puget Sound during 1963 through 1967."

At the time, there was some thought that the high rates of speed achieved by hydrofoils could be used for hunting enemy submarines which were attaining increasingly greater speeds. There were problems with this theory though. While elevated on its foils, the High Point's sonar systems did not work very well so it would have to quickly jet from one location to another, drop down into the water on its hull, listen for the enemy subs, and if nothing was found, head out to the next location to listen some more.

With a top speed of 50 knots, the High Point did participate in some Naval exercises on the West Coast but was transferred over to the Coast Guard to test its feasibility as a coastal patrol ship in 1975. By the '80s the ship was sold off to private ownership. Today, the ship is reported to need significant work before it will be seaworthy and again gliding atop the waves on its three foils. 

Worthy of a James Bond film, the USS High Point represents a incredibly unique piece of US Navy history that could now be a restoration piece in a wealthy individual's private collection.

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Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.