The John P. Devaney, and her sister ship, the Alfred E. Ronaldson, were experimental "surface effect ship" designs, a design related to hovercrafts. The vessels had a pair of catamaran hulls. A rubber skirt between the two hulls could be inflated by powerful fans, and this enabled her to travel at over 30 knots (56 km/h). The vessels' fibreclass hulls were shipped from Europe. They came equipped with a high-tech sensor suite.
The vessels were expensive, costing $3.5 million each. But after they were commissioned in June 1992 they only had an operational service span of five months, being withdrawn in November 1992 as their maintenance was too complicated.
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