Navy Will Test Fuel-Efficient Airship For Marine Patrol

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A Skyship 600 will be tested by the U.S. Navy this summer off the coast of Florida to evaluate its performance as a surveillance aircraft. Working with the Coast Guard, the Navy will collect data about the utility and cost-effectiveness of airships in this role. The ship will carry a crew of three on patrols of up to eight hours to test both the systems and crew fatigue. The ship's cabin, with room for up to 12 passengers, has plenty of space for surveillance equipment, and vibration is minimal. It can fly for up to 52 hours without refueling, and consumes only about 10 to 12 gallons of fuel per hour. The airship's ability to deploy to an area of operation, lift a sizeable payload, provide a stable platform for sensors, and stay aloft for long periods is unique, according to the Coast Guard.

The airship is owned and operated by Airship Management Services and leased by the Navy. It requires a crew of 20, including two pilots, three engineers and 15 ground crew. While on the ground, the ship's systems are monitored by a watchman located at the airship at all times.