Tag: ProteusDS

Why you need breathing space between glass floats on oceanographic moorings

When you’re in a rush, finding a place to park your car can be a relief. But relief can turn to dread when you eyeball the spot and start to think it might be a squeeze. Trying to park a car in a place that doesn’t quite have enough space is stressful. When it’s tight, it’s more likely to damage things, leaving a gash in a wall or another car.

You know you need to get the angle right, but without much space, you might be frustrated going backward and forward in little bits to adjust. And when you’re next to a pillar or wall, somehow, you have to squeeze yourself in and out awkwardly through a narrow gap in your door. A little extra breathing space makes all the difference.

Similarly, breathing space makes all the difference when it comes to groups of glass floats on oceanographic moorings. There’s a good reason you need more than a narrow gap between them: it’s more likely to damage things when it’s tight. But the damage we’re talking about is more severe than bumps or scrapes.

Parking a car in a tight spot is stressful!

Why is breathing space between glass floats important?

Each glass float creates an uplift force because they’re hollow. They’re often made with particularly thick walls that make them incredibly strong and useful for all ocean depth ranges. But the problem is that although they’re incredibly strong, they’re not invincible. Glass is also very brittle – when it breaks, it tends to shatter catastrophically all at once. So when a glass float fails at some water depth, under immense hydrostatic pressure, there is an instantaneous and catastrophic implosion – an implosion so violent it creates a shockwave.

Glass floats in protective hard hats in a bundle on a mooring line. Picture credit: James Potemra U. Hawaii SOEST

You want a buffer from the implosion shockwave

If other glass floats are too close by, the shockwave can be enough to trigger even more failures – an event referred to as sympathetic implosion. But what exactly do we mean by breathing space?

It means spacing things out

It’s common to see clusters of glass floats on moorings. Because glass floats are small, they’re often used in bundles to provide enough flotation to support a mooring in the water column. Typically, these bundles are made up of a few pairs of glass floats spaced out on a short length of chain – perhaps a total of four on a 4m chain. The connecting hardware required to string the lengths of chain together introduces even more spacing, too. This spacing helps spread out the impact from the shock wave when any single float might fail. Spacing is helpful, but there’s another way to guard against the effects of implosion.

Implosion of a single float means an instant loss in uplift.

Too much loss in net uplift can mean the mooring may collapse to the seabed. Fortunately, redundancy is a direct way to counteract this. With some redundancy, the mooring can remain upright and recovered even if some floats implode.

A destroyed hard hat wtih imploded glass float. Picture credit: Dan Kot WHOI

But how many more floats should you add? It depends on the level of risk involved and how important the data and equipment on the mooring are. Understanding design measures are practical, but it’s not all you can do. What about reducing the chances of implosion from happening?

But just how common is implosion before rated depth?

Modern glass float manufacturing techniques have steadily improved quality and reliability over the years. Glass floats are always pressure tested to prove some capacity of depth rating when manufactured. Through years of designing moorings, it may be rare to see any implosions before hitting the depth rating.

Yet there are some cases when failures can be more common, though the underlying causes are not always obvious. Nevertheless, glass floats are usually reused over many deployments, and the risk of implosion increases as they age. Fortunately, this is where there is more control over the risk of implosion.

It’s not a snowball! Remains of an imploded glass float after implosion. Picture credit: James Potemra U. Hawaii SOEST

What can you do to reduce the chances of implosion?

Inspection of each of the glass floats used before and after deployment is helpful. Cumulative damage can show up in the form of spalling that looks like small chips off the surface of the float. Glass dust will start to appear inside the float from the load cycling as it is deployed at working depth and recovered. Too much of this dust, or glass chips above a specific size, means it’s time to retire the float. In addition to inspection, glass floats have their own particular handling needs.

Because glass is brittle, it doesn’t have the same capacity to absorb bumps and scrapes while handling them. Bumping a glass float on a bulkhead might seem like a minor accident, but it can cause a microscopic flaw in the glass. But under the incredible hydrostatic pressures at working depths, these flaws can be enough to trigger an implosion. Yet this is easily addressed by specific training in properly handling glass floats and is readily available from manufacturers like Nautilus.

Are there any alternatives to glass floats?

Syntactic foam is one alternative. These solid floats aren’t brittle and don’t have the same kind of handling requirements as glass floats need. They can also be engineered to withstand the immense pressures at most water depths. But there’s a downside. The larger the depth rating, the denser the foam must be for increased strength. This makes the float heavier and less effective at creating lift for the same volume as glass floats at more significant depth ratings.

Let’s look at examples of spacing

The CSIRO EAC mooring and SOFS moorings both have large groups of glass floats to support the mooring, particularly near the acoustic release assembly. Both use multiple groups of glass floats on short sections of chain, with varying levels of spacing. There are examples of a range of four to six floats spaced evenly on 4m chain section.

It’s time to summarize

Glass floats are commonly used, especially in applications reaching the deepest places in the ocean. They are cost-effective and extremely strong. But they are also brittle and can spectacularly fail when they implode at depth. An implosion shockwave can lead to a cascading failure through sympathetic implosion when used in clusters on a mooring. But you can minimize the problem by inspecting them before and after use, handling them properly, and using redundancy. Just don’t forget some space between them, too. A little breathing room makes everything easier – just you wish you had some when you’re stuck in a tight parking spot!

Next step

Check out some of the sample mooring layout files in ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer to see more detailed examples of glass float spacing. The CSIRO EAC and SOFS moorings have many glass floats near the acoustic release assembly. Download ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer and the sample files here.

Thanks to Nautilus GmbH

Thanks to Steffen Pausch at Nautilus GmbH for the helpful discussion and information on their Vitrovex glass flotation systems.

Why tiny active stabilizers have a large effect on ship roll motions

What do an elephant and a manatee have in common? It might sound like the start of a good joke, but it is pure biology. The answer is they have muscular hydrostats on their faces. The elephant’s trunk and manatee’s highly prehensile snout are both examples of this fantastic mechanical structure. Both animals can use them for gripping and holding things. A muscular hydrostat has no bones to speak of but can make incredibly complex shapes and motion – and even exert tremendous forces. But how do they do this without any bones?

The key is in small groups of muscles. These groups of muscles are clustered and oriented in specific ways, and they each react against each other. When they get their timing right – by contracting and relaxing in harmony – they change the shape of the hydrostat and create this wide range of motion and force. Tiny components work together to have a large effect.

It takes a particular set of circumstances for something tiny to have a large effect. But there are examples everywhere, and the world of ship motion is no exception. Many ships can have dangerously large roll motions in certain ocean conditions. But ship designers have several ways to deal with this problem. One way is with active roll stabilizers. These tend to be extremely tiny devices, especially compared to the size of a ship itself. But when these small components work together and get their timing right, they can have a large effect – and bring roll motions down to much safer levels.

What do these two have in common? The elephant’s trunk and manatee’s snout are both highly prehensile structures. Without any bones, tiny groups of muscles work together to have a large effect on motion and forces.

What are active stabilizers?

Active stabilizers typically look like tiny wings on the hull below the waterline. Often, most hull appendages are fixed on the hull and don’t move around. But in this case, these are referred to as active because they have an actuator that can quickly change their pitch angle.

Active stabilizers reduce uncomfortable or dangerous ship motions

The most severe ship motions and accelerations are often caused or exacerbated by roll. This is because many hull forms are long and slender, without a lot of capability of damping or slowing down this motion. Often, fixed hull features like bilge keels can add some drag to increase damping.

But depending on the requirements of the use of the vessel, it may not be enough. Severe roll motion can lead to large accelerations that cause sea sickness and injuries. Equipment on the ship or the ship hull itself can be damaged, too. So how exactly do active stabilizers work?

Active stabilizers have a foil profile just like airplane wings

Active stabilizers look like tiny wings for a reason: they use the same principles of lift to do their job. Fortunately, because water is so dense compared to air, the lift forces generated are significant, so the stabilizers’ size doesn’t need to be massive to be effective.

The water flowing over the foil generates a powerful lift force. Because the foils jut outward from the hull below the waterline, these lift forces create a sizable torque that can directly affect the ship’s motion in roll. So the real trick with active stabilizers is not about how much force they make but the timing of the pitch angle.

The pitch angle of the foil is critical. The pitch angle of the foil means that the “lift” force on the foil can be directed upwards toward the sea surface or downward toward the seabed. It’s this timing that the active stabilizer needs to get right to make sure the lift force is always creating an anti-roll torque that resists and damps out roll motion on the ship.

You rarely see stabilizers as they are usually under the waterline. These active stabilizers clearly stand out on this 70m yacht while in drydock. Picture credit: Vumedia Group courtesy of Quantum Marine Stabilizers

Timing the anti-roll torque is what’s key to these small stabilizers being so effective

They are substantially better when you compare them to fixed hull appendages like fixed foils or bilge keels that can’t change how their forces are applied. An active stabilizer produces the right amount of stabilizing torque at the right instant in time to keep roll motions under control. Active stabilizers can do a lot, but what kind of alternatives are there?

Active stabilizers aren’t the only solution

There are other tools that ship designers can use to control ship motions, like slosh tanks or U-tube tanks. There are other active devices, too, like gyroscopic stabilizers. Certainly, controlling roll is essential for rounded monohull ships. But certain hull types are much more inherently stable – like multi-hull catamarans, for instance.

How do you find the right size of active stabilizer?

Just because they are small, it doesn’t mean sizing the system is a no-brainer. It is always a good idea to verify the performance of a specific foil and control system. One way to verify this relatively quickly is using a seakeeping analysis tool. In ShipMo3D, there are features for the numerical evaluation of active stabilizers. This is one way to show ship motion in the worst-case scenario but also in a typical sea state with and without active stabilizers.

When do active stabilizers fall flat?

There are a few disadvantages to active stabilizers. Because they work based on hydrodynamic lift, they always need some relative flow in the water, so usually, the ship has to have some forward speed. On top of this, the faster the ship moves, the more effective the active stabilizers work, but the inverse is true, too – the slower the forward speed, the less effective they are.

Active stabilizers may be a slam dunk depending on the specific needs and requirements of the ship design. Still, it may also be a good idea to check out other options like U-tube tanks or gyroscopic stabilizers.

Example time

We can illustrate the effect of active stabilizers on the Generic Frigate using ShipMo3D. Once the Generic Frigate ship model is set up and time-consuming radiation and diffraction calculations are completed, the active stabilizers can be added and adjusted as needed to see the impact on RAO and ship motion. A pair of active stabilizers at midships with a basic roll velocity control reduces the peak roll RAO substantially. The peak RAO in roll is reduced by almost 30%.

The Generic Frigate with active stabilizers. They’re so tiny I added an arrow so you wouldn’t miss them!

The impact on roll RAO of the Generic Frigate with and without active stabilizers. The ship condition is 10 knots forward speed in beam regular waves.

You can see how to set up these active stabilizes using the Stabilizer Generic Frigate project in this video tutorial from our YouTube channel. The Stabilizer parameters are based on the same parameters as in the ShipMo3D validation report.


Active stabilizers are small but effective roll control devices – one among many at the disposal of ship designers. While they are effective, they are not always a slam dunk and require careful consideration and sizing for the ship type.

If you are feeling left out because you don’t have a muscular hydrostat on your face like an elephant or a manatee, don’t worry. It turns out you already have one in your mouth – your tongue!

Next step

Read more on the active stabilizer scenario with the Generic Frigate in the ShipMo3D validation report here.


Read more on the prehensile manatee snout (with pictures!) here.

How antiroll tanks work to passively reduce ship roll

The Hippopotamus has four legs for walking on land, yet it is closely related to whales and dolphins. This shows particularly when it comes to sleep: Hippos can do so underwater. But they don’t have gills like fish – so how do they pull this off without drowning? It turns out they have a built-in reflex that helps them out. A Hippo will automatically gently rise, breathe, and submerge again without waking up. It is all done entirely passively.

When a system works passively, you don’t have to intervene, control, or monitor things closely. It frees you up to do something else (even if it’s sleep!). When it comes to controlling ship motion, a few systems work entirely passively. One example is antiroll tanks. So what are antiroll tanks, and how do they work?

Hippos can sleep underwater but don’t need a snorkel. A reflex lets them passively float to the surface and catch a breath of air without waking up.

What are antiroll tanks?

Antiroll tanks are large chambers partially filled with water on a ship. Typically, these structures take up space across the entire beam of the vessel. Channels may connect more than one chamber to facilitate air and water flow between the chambers. These tanks need to be significant to contain enough water mass that it can influence the motion of the entire ship.

Antiroll tanks can minimize the effects of roll motion on the ship

When designed properly, antiroll tanks can significantly reduce roll motion and acceleration. Reducing these severe motions and accelerations can substantially improve the vessel’s safe operation in unfavourable weather. It makes it easy to do work on the ship in all conditions, and minimizes sea sickness and the potential for damage to equipment, too.

The nature of these tanks is truly all about dynamics.

The significant mass of water in the antiroll tank can shift from one side of the ship to the other. But it takes a certain amount of time to move. As the ship rolls, this out-of-phase motion of water shifting from one side of the ship to the other creates resistance to roll motion.

When the antiroll tanks are designed well, there is both a beneficial static and dynamic effect. The static effect is from the weight of water on one side of the ship, which creates a counter-balancing roll moment that reduces roll motion. The dynamic effect is inertial: when the ship is accelerating in roll in one direction, the mass of water in the tanks is accelerating the other way, absorbing energy and resisting greater roll accelerations.

When do you use antiroll tanks?

It is not always obvious whether you should use antiroll tanks specifically or not. They are one of several options that a ship designer can consider to help improve the performance of a ship. There are always trade-offs in any design process. After all, these tanks use up a large volume on the vessel, so there is less space for cargo or other equipment. So the ship’s performance may be better, but it comes at a cost. There are additional costs as well, as these systems can create large forces within the ship and affect the structural design.

But despite these trade-offs, the safety and performance increase may be worth it. Often, they are well worth considering as an option for narrow ships with a relatively smooth and rounded hull that otherwise little roll damping. One common type of antiroll tank is the U-tube tank.

U-tube antiroll tanks typically have two significant chambers at either side of the ship

A sizable channel connects them at the bottom of the tanks to allow water to flow from one side to the other. An additional connection at the top also provides air pressure balance between the tanks. Without this air connection, the expansion and compression of air create pressures that resist the water flow and can prevent the tanks from working as expected.

These are the most simple antiroll tank design. U-tube tanks can be cost-effective as they are the most straightforward design. However, their antiroll capability depends on the tanks’ size and spacing, which means there is little room for any adjustment once installed. These may work best on ships that keep a relatively consistent displacement through their operation – such as military, coast guard, and pleasure craft. But there are other types of antiroll tanks, too.

The RV Investigator has a U-tube tank to control roll motions in heavy seas. Picture credit: Mike Watson

A free surface tank is like one large container

Unlike a U-tube tank, a free surface tank is like one large tank. It might sound simple, but often there can be a bit of complexity. Often, there are baffles throughout the chamber to help adjust how much time it takes for water to slosh from one end of the tank to the other. This may be important to ensure the tank works as intended but also to help decrease the chance of sizeable internal slamming loads from the sloshing water. The dynamic response can also be adjusted based on the water level in the tank. This makes it more useful for ship designs that may have a broader range of displacement throughout their operational life. But this comes at a cost – more support and control systems are needed to add, remove, and measure the tank’s water level.

How can you properly size an antiroll tank?

Sizing an antiroll tank is not always obvious. Experience with existing vessels is always helpful, but not all designs are identical. Each new ship design comes with specific requirements. One possibility to size an antiroll tank is with seakeeping analysis software. Many seakeeping analysis software tools can compute ship motions in a seaway with and without antiroll tanks. This gives a way to establish the required size of the tank that will have a meaningful impact on ship motion. ShipMo3D is an example of seakeeping analysis software with antiroll tank capabilities like U-tube and slosh tanks.

Let’s look at an example

We can add a U-tube tank to the Generic Frigate model in ShipMo3D to see the effect on motion response. A U-tube tank configuration can be seen in the ShipMo3D validation report in section 10 available on the ShipMo3D website here. Once the U-tube tank is configured in ShipMo3D, it’s a relatively rapid calculation to evaluate the resulting effect on ship motion.

Representative picture of a U-tube tank set up in the Generic Frigate in ShipMo3D

When the right dimensions are set up for the U-tube tank, the resulting impact on ship motion can be dramatic. The plot shows the change in peak roll response for the Generic Frigate with and without the U-tube tank. There’s almost a 50% reduction in roll motion at the roll natural period.

The impact on roll RAO of the Generic Frigate with and without a U-tube tank. Ship condition is 10 knots forward speed in beam regular waves.

You can see how to set up this U-tube tank with the Generic Frigate in this video tutorial from our YouTube channel. The U-tube tank is based on the same parameters as in the ShipMo3D validation report.

It’s time to summarize

Roll motion in heavy seas can often hobble a ship. The result can be Interrupted work, seasickness, and even damaged equipment. Antiroll tanks are one option for ship designers to control roll motion and increase the ship’s safety and performance. The movement of water across the tanks creates resistive weight and inertia that reduces the overall roll of the ship. But they come at a cost – they take up valuable space on the ship and have their structural design requirements, too. Ship designers must carefully evaluate antiroll tanks to ensure they work as expected at sea. Fortunately, many seakeeping analysis programs, such as ShipMo3D, have these capabilities, making evaluating and designing antiroll tanks cost-effective. Well-designed systems that work passively allow you to sleep easily – just like a Hippo who can rest easily under water!

Next step

This particular U-tube tank configuration is detailed in the ShipMo3D validation report. Read more about verifications of functionality like the U-tube tank and comparisons of ship motion predictions to tank scale and full scale ship motion data here.


Join the interactive Oceanographic Mooring Design Seminar at the Buoy Workshop September 19, 2022

When designing moorings, it’s easy to get lost in the details of all the parts you need

Purpose-built software is needed to make it easy to find parts, arrange them, and adjust them into a design. ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer is a free purpose-built software tool for oceanographic mooring design. But learning any new software takes time.

Quickly learn the ins and outs of ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer in a training session during the Buoy Workshop. We’ll cover the design process and create basic mooring designs with the software. Use the interactive training session to ask questions on software use and collaborate with others in the oceanographic mooring sector.

The Design Process is not always a straight shot. The Mooring Design Seminar covers these points, but stays focused on Detailed Design with ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer.

Attend the training session virtually or face to face

In partnership with MTS and the Buoy Workshop, a room at the Cape Fear Community College will be used for the training session. Just like the Buoy Workshop has virtual or face-to-face attendance, the training is delivered virtually, so you can meet with the group or through a weblink from any location.

Details on the Mooring Design Seminar session:

who: DSA Ocean CTO Ryan Nicoll will host the Mooring Design Seminar via Zoom


when:  Monday, September 19, from 14:00-16:00 Eastern Time


where: via Zoom and also via meeting room at the Cape Fear Community College, Wilmington, NC. Zoom link and meeting room details on the meeting room are provided after you register for the Buoy Workshop.


what will be covered: an overview of the design process and how to assemble simple mooring designs with ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer


how much does it cost: It is included with your Buoy Workshop registration


what you need to attend: You’ll need a Windows PC laptop that can run Zoom and the freely available ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer. Download Designer from this direct link:

Read more on ProteusDS Oceanographic here:

Register for the Buoy Workshop to join the interactive Mooring Design Seminar with ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer

Read more and register for the Buoy Workshop here:


Why the sensitivity of ship roll damping makes naval architects sweat

Dolphins might act like they have x-ray vision. But it’s not their eyes that help them see through the ground. Their fine-tuned sonar capabilities have made them a valuable part of maritime security and the protection of coasts and harbours for decades. They’re used to living and working in all ranges of conditions, including murky water and acoustically noisy environments – where there are many other animals and lots of marine traffic. Trained Dolphins can easily find intruders or even mines in places and conditions where our own sonar technology completely falls flat. In fact, Dolphins can differentiate between entirely distinct types of metal, like brass, aluminum, and steel, buried almost a meter under the seabed because their natural sonar is so sensitive.

But a high level of sensitivity can be both a blessing and a curse. It can be a curse because seemingly minor changes can cause a completely different response. When it comes to ship motions, roll is extremely sensitive. Small changes in the ship design can result in significant changes in motion characteristics. In this article, we’re going to talk about why naval architects sweat the details to really understand just what will happen to a ship in roll. So why are ship roll motion so sensitive?

Dolphins have sonar so sensitive it can differentiate different metals buried in the soil.

Not all ships have sensitive roll

Barges and multi-hull ships like catamarans and trimarans don’t tend to have sensitive roll. The kind of ships we are talking about are smooth monohull systems. The key is that there is a single primary hull that is relatively slender in terms of length to beam ratio. Often, monohull ships are quite smooth with a round form, which is one crucial reason roll motion is so sensitive. The rounded shape means there is very little damping resistance when it rolls.

What do you mean by resistance?

By resistance, I mean either ocean wave radiation or viscous damping. Barges are large and flat – almost like floating paddles – and their particular shape is ideal for generating waves when rolling. These radiated ocean waves absorb massive energy, making an enormous amount of resistance that slows down barge motion in roll. A multi-hull vessel like a catamaran also does an excellent job of radiating waves when rolling. This is because of the way the flotation hulls are offset from the centerline. But a rounded monohull makes almost no waves when it rolls and, as a result, relies heavily on viscous drag for resistance.

But viscous drag damping doesn’t work very well in oscillation

Even if the ship roll velocities are high, because of the back-and-forth motion, drag loads tend to be weak. Because of the low resistance, even relatively mild ocean wave conditions can lead to significant roll motions and accelerations. This can limit ship operations or, worse, cause injuries. Equipment, cargo, or the ship itself can be damaged, too.

The result is that naval architects spend a lot of time and energy thinking about ship roll

A lot of time and energy goes into the design details of the shape of the hull and appendages that help amplify viscous drag resistance. Features like bilge keels are often added specifically to create viscous resistance to help reduce roll motion. Other technologies can help, including passive and active systems like antiroll tanks and stabilizers, but simple appendages are the most straightforward place to start. But with hull appendages, it’s vital to understand the viscous drag effects reasonably well because of how they can substantially impact roll motion performance. So how is viscous roll damping evaluated?

Slender monohull ships like the Uchuck III can have very round and smooth hulls which can make controlling roll motion a design priority


Hull appendages like rudders and skegs can help with roll damping, but they can only do so much

One way to evaluate roll motion is from physical scale model testing

But this approach is by far the most costly and time-consuming. A scale model of a ship in a wave basin will verify the ship’s expected roll response based on the design details used. But because of the costs involved, it’s not an economically viable approach to iterate on the design of the hull and appendages – it serves more as a confirmation of the expected roll performance. Yet there are alternative numerical methods that work well in evaluating roll.

Roll damping can be computed with Computational Fluid Dynamics tools

These software tools resolve the physics and details of the water flow interacting with the hull and appendages. While they provide a great deal of useful information and are helpful for a degree of design iteration, it can be a computationally costly and time-consuming approach. A tight project timeline won’t leave room for investigating many different loading conditions or design iterations on hull and appendage configurations. But there is more than one numerical approach to resolve ship motion.

Some numerical models use empirical relationships to resolve the viscous forces

Empirical equations describing viscous roll resistance are helpful but have more significant uncertainty than the other approaches. Yet ship designers can use them across various conditions and appendage configurations. They are also very computationally efficient and can help screen out different designs quickly. Dynamic analysis tools like ShipMo3D are designed to set up typical hull design, including appendages and resolve ship motion in a broad range of sea and ship conditions much faster than CFD tools.


The RV Investigator hull is also very smooth, but has multiple tricks to help with stability in roll like bilge keels and an antiroll U-tube tank. Picture credit: Mike Watson

It’s example time

So how much difference can something like bilge keels make to damp roll motion on a smooth bottomed monohull vessel? Here is a comparison of ship roll response of the Generic Frigate computed by ShipMo3D with and without bilge keels.

The ShipMo3D Generic Frigate model with bilge keels on the left and without on the right

A roll decay comparison starting the vessels at 10 degrees shows a significant difference. While bilge keels don’t eliminate roll oscillations entirely, they are substantially better than nothing at reducing roll motion. But this is only the roll decay response. What happens to the ship motion response across a range of wave frequencies? The RAO can give some insight.

In a roll decay test computed by ShipMo3D, bilge keels are significantly better than nothing at reducing roll motions

The RAO gives a broad spectrum idea of how the ship will respond, including at resonance. Often, for slender monohull ships, one of the worst-case loading conditions is in a beam sea. The roll RAO of the Generic Frigate with and without bilge keels in a beam sea condition is illustrated below. The RAO shows that maximum roll motion is reduced by a factor of two! There is also much lower roll motion in the region around the peak as well. This implies that the bilge keels help significantly control roll motion, especially around the natural frequency in roll.

The bilge keels have a substantial effect at reducing the roll RAO peak by a factor of two. This implies significantly lower accelerations and motions especially around the natural roll frequency.

It’s time to summarize

We covered a few details on ship roll response, and now it’s time to review. Roll response is something to get right because the stakes are high – large roll motions can make the ship inoperable, cause injuries, or even damage. Not all ships have sensitive roll response, and usually, it’s an essential issue for monohull vessels. The slender form of the vessel with a rounded bottom means there is little resistance in roll.

These vessels don’t radiate ocean waves very well compared to other vessel forms like barges or multi-hulls like catamarans and trimarans. So monohulls rely almost totally on viscous damping to control roll motions. Viscous forces are weak in the back-and-forth oscillatory motion in roll. So ship designers and naval architects spend a lot of time characterizing the viscous roll effects however they can. Like dolphins measuring different materials through seabed soil and mud layers, ship designers will use whatever tools they can to measure ship roll response.

Next step

Bilge keels are one way to help control roll motion, but there are other systems that help. Anti-roll tanks are another example that can make a big difference on roll activity. Read more on what anti-roll tanks are, how they work, and how to evaluate them in the next article here.