Shelia Bordelon is a SpaceX fairing recovery vessel. Designed as an ultra-light subsea exploration ship, SpaceX contracted the Shelia Bordelon in March 2021 for the fairing recovery program, intending to use the 50 ton crane to lift fairing halves from the water after they land under parafoil control, following a Falcon 9 launch.
Owner: Bordelon Marine, LLC
Operator: Bordelon Marine, LLC
Year Built: 2015
Joined SpaceX Fleet: 2021
Throughout 2020, SpaceX was not always attempting to catch the fairing half and instead opting to go straight for wet recovery, a process where the fairing is allowed to gracefully land on the ocean surface and is then lifted onto the recovery ship. This method often proved more reliable and less high-risk than catch attempts – which occasionally ended with significant damage to fairings and the catcher ships.
Fairing catcher ships Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief were decommissioned and retired from SpaceX operations in April 2021 when SpaceX abandoned the catching program. Initially, Dragon recovery ships GO Searcher and GO Navigator were reassigned to fairing wet recovery but ultimately had to return to their primary Dragon role to support conflicting crew launches. SpaceX then contracted Shelia Bordelon for fairing operations for a suspected interim period.
Shelia Bordelon successfully recovered two fairing halves for the first time during the Starlink V1 L22 mission on March 24th, 2021.