Samuel Smith’s research could help both military and civilian vessels. (ABC News: Carla Howarth)
The Australian Maritime College (AMC) in Tasmania is looking into how to make military submarines and ships even more stealthy.
Researcher Samuel Smith’s investigations into how vessels can stay quiet even in turbulent conditions could aid both military and civilian vessels.
He uses a cavitation tunnel, which helps scientists understand how water flows around an object and causes cavitation — the formation of bubbles.
“So this is looking at the certain flow conditions that rudders and propellers encounter when operating and that causes them to vibrate and generate noise,” he said.
“This is actually going to help the design of propellers and rudders on ships to make them a lot quieter and a bit more efficient.”
The PhD candidate, who is in the final year of a three-year project, said the results had already been promising.
“We’re finding particular frequencies that they get excited at, which can help in the design stages in industry where they can actually use it to quieten the vessel quite significantly,” he said.
Noise reduction makes cruise ships more comfortable, says Samuel Smith. (ABC News: Carla Howarth)
Mr Smith said the potential benefits of a quieter ship were not just tactical — they could make life more comfortable for passengers on cruise ships or research vessels.
“It’s a lot quieter and more pleasant to be on board,” he said.
Military edge, cruise-ship comfort
Professor Paul Brandner, research leader at the AMC’s Cavitation Research Laboratory, said the research was paramount from a defence perspective.
“For military vessels, this is a critical factor in the design of these ships,” he said.
“It is also for other types of ships, such as cruise ships or research vessels where we’re interested in the ship being quiet.”
Professor Brandner said the team’s project was unique.
“We think it’s the first time this measurement’s ever been made in this set-up, and we’re already getting interesting results that will be of great use to navy,” he said.
“Much of the work we do is concerned with performance of naval vessels, whether they be ships or submarines, and they’re all affected by the turbulence that forms around the ship or submarine.”
Associate Professor Jonathan Binns, director of the AMC Research Training Centre for Naval Design and Manufacturing, said the researchers were working in collaboration with the Australian Submarine Corporation.
“They’re looking at how they can actually use this data in the design elements of their future submarines,” he said.
The research is helping the subs of the future, says Ass Prof Jonathan Binns (ABC News: Carla Howarth)