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J Bell
J Lavroff
M R Davis


The ride control systems of high-speed vessels frequently use active stern tabs for both motion control and maintenance of correct trim at various speeds and sea conditions. This paper investigates the effect of water depth on the lift force provided by stern mounted trim tabs, of the type fitted to INCAT high speed wave-piercer catamaran vehicle ferries and similar vessels. This investigation was carried out at model scale with the use of a test apparatus in a flume tank in the University of Tasmania hydraulics laboratory. The lift force magnitude and location were measured over a range of tab angles and flow depths. This was used to calculate the lift coefficient of the tab and asses the performance of the tab over the range of flow depths. It was found that the lift force increased and the force location progressed further forward of the hinge as flow depth decreased. The lift curve slope of the stern tab increased by a factor of over 3 relative to the deep water value when the water depth below the hull was approximately equal to the tab chord. The deep water lift curve slope appears to be approached only when the water depth exceeded 4 or more tab chord lengths. The centre of pressure of the lift force was more than two chord lengths ahead of the tab hinge, showing that most of the lift produced by the tab was under the hull rather than on the surface of the tab itself.

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