Design, Development and Commissioning of the Boldrewood Towing Tank – A Decade of Endeavour

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B Malas
L Creasey
D Buckland
S R Turnock


The process of design, build and eventual commissioning of the towing tank on the Boldrewood Innovation Campus is described. The design brief required a facility that would have a capability to test models at a commercial scale but that would be effective as teaching environment for the next generation of Naval Architects as well as providing a flexible space for future fundamental research. Each of these provided their own challenges but the eventual solution of a 138 m long, 3.5 m deep, 6 m wide facility has more than met the initial aspirations. Equipped with 12 independent 0.5 m wavemaking flaps at the West end, a passive beach at the East end, a deployable side beach along the South wall for post run wave absorption and a monocoque Aluminium alloy carriage, the Boldrewood towing tank has now been successfully operating for more than a year. The carriage position and speed are controlled by a twin winch arrangement using a laser positioning system and low embodied energy composite cables. The carriage can reach a maximum speed of 10 m/s with controllable acceleration rates and can have up to four constant speed phases per run. Initial commissioning results and comparisons with benchmark data for the KCS hull confirm the accuracy and repeatability of the facility. In particular, the position and speed of the carriage are known to a high level of precision. To date research and consultancy work has spanned the performance of high speed vessels, uncrewed underwater and surface vessels, wave energy and tidal current systems, floating platforms for wind turbines, performance sport work for sailing, kayaking, rowing and swimming, open water propeller tests as well as conventional displacement vessel testing for self-propulsion and resistance. All ship science and maritime engineering students use the facility as part of their taught modules in every year of their programme as well as for individual, MSc and group projects as appropriate. It has also made a strong impact on the many thousands of visitors a year to the campus for science and engineering open days.

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