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Naval Ship Design

Naval Ship Design

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Published by: ThinkDefence on Nov 15, 2010
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Naval ships generate “signatures” that are detectable by ever-increasing sophistication of
(opposed) hostile sensor and weapon systems. A ship’s vulnerability and survivability
depends heavily on its being able to operate undetectable by such systems against its

Operational stealth can be considered a measure of the ability of a naval ship to operate
undetected against threats in mission areas. It is important for a ship to be able to embark
on an assigned mission with a degree of stealth that provides a low level of vulnerability
to detection and classification. A major element of a naval ship’s stealth is its signature

ISSC committee V.5: Naval Ship Design


characteristics. It has been the nature of naval ship design to require progressive
signature improvement to maintain an acceptable level of stealth.

Signatures can be acoustic (propagation by mechanical vibration of physical properties),
electromagnetic (propagation by periodic variations in electro and magnetic fields), or
other observable entities that result from ship-design or ship-system components.
Signatures can be passive (such as acoustic target strength, static electric and magnetic
fields, etc.) and active (such as radiated acoustic noise, low frequency electromagnetics,
etc.). Both can be reduced by incorporation of specific countermeasures (such as
shaping, novel materials, shielding, configuration, etc.).

In the design of new naval ships, increasing attention is being paid to signature reduction.
Some of the more common design concepts employed are: shaping (flat hull sides
inclined outwards and flat superstructure and mast surfaces arranged as truncated
pyramids); use of composite structures on the topside enabling the integration of
absorbing and reflecting materials; composite hull forms that allow the insulation of
internal components from the water; new steel double-hull designs that allow for flooded
compartments which can act as thermal and acoustic barriers; concealed installation of
weapons, sensors, cranes, etc,; external doors and hatches with conductive coaming; use
of flush-mounted, cavity-backed antennas; special design for air intakes/outlets,
windows, etc.; and more electric power architecture allowing the replacement of drive
shafts and reduction gears with electric drives.

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