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This work focuses on characterising vessel wave wake (wash) using wavelet analysis when a vessel is operating in the sub-critical and critical zone. Such characterisation complements other wash characteristics: Froude depth number, bow wave angle, solitons and decay coefficient. The examination of experimental results indicates that differences in characteristics with respect to water depth, Froude depth number, vessel displacement, hull form and soliton generation can be identified through wavelet analysis. The results demonstrate “proof of concept” that wavelet analysis is a powerful tool for characterising vessel wash and captures the effects of key operational and vessel changes.