The Stealth Ship was an almost undetectable ship used by media tycoon Elliot Carver in his attempt to provoke a war between Britain and China in 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies. The ship was destroyed by Bond and the British Navy in the climax of the film.
Built before the film takes place, the stealth ship was constructed from stealth materials stolen from a Chinese military base by Carver's Chinese co-conspiritor, General Chang.
After sending the British frigate HMS Devonshire off-course into Chinese-held waters in the South China Sea, the stealth ship, commanded by Mr. Stamper, sinks the frigate with a sea drill and steals one of its cruise missiles. Afterwards, Stamper's men shoot down a Chinese J-7 fighter jet sent to investigate the British presence, and kill the Devonshire's survivors with Chinese weaponry.
Later in the film, Bond and his Chinese counterpart, Wai Lin, find Carver's stealth ship in Ha Long Bay and board it to prevent him firing the stolen British cruise missile at Beijing. During the battle, Wai Lin is captured. Bond captures one of Carver's associates, Gupta, to use as his own hostage, but the media tycoon kills Gupta, claiming he has "outlived his contract". Bond detonates an explosive, damaging the ship's hull and making it visible to radar, and vulnerable to a subsequent Royal Navy attack. While Wai Lin disables the engines, Bond goes after the missile. He kills Carver with his own sea drill. As Bond attempts to destroy the warhead, Stamper appears and fights him. Bond traps Stamper in the missile firing mechanism and dives to save Wai Lin as the missile explodes, destroying the ship and killing Stamper.
The idea behind stealth ships is to make them virtually invisible to enemy radar, particularly radar beams originating near the horizon, as would be expected from distant patrol aircraft or other ships with radar seekers. This is achieved by using carbon fibre and reinforced plastic materials in the surface construction, and having an inward-sloping hull design that avoids vertical surfaces and right angles, to prevent radar beams being reflected back to the emitter.
The design of the ship was partly based on the Sea Shadow (IX-529) - an experimental stealth ship built by Lockheed for the United States Navy. Like the Sea Shadow, Carver's stealth ship uses the Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull, or SWATH, design. This is basically a catamaran-type shape that gives the ship a high proportion of deck area, making it large without being heavy and enabling it to handle in rough seas. A pair of hulls supporting the upper hull sit below the waterline, reducing the accompanying waves. Consequently, most of the ship's floatation runs beneath the waves, like a submarine.
Behind the scenes
It was director Roger Spottiswoode who suggested to Tomorrow Never Dies screenwriter Brice Feirstein that the showdown between Elliot Carver and James Bond should occur on a stealth ship. Feirstein instantly thought the ship was a perfect fit for a Bond film and worked it into the script.
The exterior shots of Carver's ship were created using a large scale miniature model based on the design of the Seacat cross channel ferries. The catamaran-style model was built by John Richardson.
- "The stealth boat was 30 feet long, and weighed about three and a half tons. We shot it in the tank in Rosarita, Mexico that was built for Titanic (1997), the James Cameron film. It was a difficult model to shoot because [the scene] took place at night, and having a black stealth ship on the black sea against the black sky at night, lighting it so that the audience can see it, and making it look real at the same time is not something I'd like to do too often."
- ― John Richardson, special effects designer
- The James Bond Car Collection Magazine, Issue 62
Bentley 4½ Litre - Bentley 3½ Litre - Bentley Mark VI - Bentley Mark II Continental - Bentley Mulsanne Turbo - Aston Martin DB5 - Aston Martin DB Mark III - Aston Martin DBS - Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante - Aston Martin V12 Vanquish - Aston Martin DBS V12 - Lotus Esprit S1 - Lotus Turbo Esprit - BMW Z3 - BMW 750iL - BMW Z8 - BMW 520i -
Lockheed JetStar - Bell Rocket Belt - Avro Vulcan - Kawasaki KV-107 - Little Nellie - Car Plane - Bell 206 JetRanger - Handley Page Jetstream - Cessna A185F - Acrostar Jet - Hot Air Balloon - Beechcraft Model 18 - Zorin's Blimp - British Aerospace Harrier T10 -
Bird One - Moonraker (Space Shuttle)
Disco Volante - Atlantis - Liparus - Wetbike - Wet Nellie - Glastron Boat - Gondola - Alligator Boat - Iceberg Boat - Stealth Ship - Q Boat