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paper presented at

OCEAN 2015 - MTS/IEEE, Genova (IT), May 28-21

The Second Generattion of Autonomous Surfface Vessels

Optimized P
Performance for AUVs Assistance at Sea
Stefano Brizzolara
Innoovative Ship Design lab. & MIT Sea Grant
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA, USA

Abstract The next generation of Autoonomous Surface

Vessels (ASV) will be optimized for optimum peerformance at sea.
The design of an innovative unconventional SWATH-ASV
family, patented by the author and under furtheer investigation at
the MIT innovative Ship design lab is descrribed in its main
features. The new unconventional design of thee hull is the key to
performance. The
superior resistance, powering and seakeeping p
achievement of these excellent results is a direcct consequence of
the extensive use of new computational fluiid dynamic tools
integrated into full parametric geometry optim
mization methods.
The main modeling capabilities of these numerrical methods are
presented. As a result, the new ASV-SWATH iis able to demand
20% to 40% less propulsion power th
han conventional
catamarans at high speeds and it is subject to ssignificantly lower
motions in waves: 50% less heave and 60% pitcch in a wide range
of incoming wave frequencies. The new ASV
V platform is the
ideal, yet missing, element to realize a tru
ue persistent and
portable network of AUVs at sea. The characteristics of onboard
systems for AUV launching/recovering and wiireless recharging
are finally discussed and their feasibility assesssed in the light of
the seakeeping predictions performed both for the AUV and the
ASV in the same sea state.
Keywords: Autonomous Surface Vessels, ASV

MIT Sea Grant is working towards the goal of realizing
persistent cooperative network of Autonom
mous Underwater
Vehicles (AUVs) to monitor large sea stretchees. Such a system
of vehicles can open important new perspeectives in ocean
sensing for both scientific/civilian (oceannography, water
quality, oil and gas exploration) and for other m
military purposes
(among others security/surveillance taskss). Despite the
increased operational efficiency achieved throuugh the enhanced
autonomy control and better underwater communication
systems, AUVs still require substantial suppoort from manned
ships on the surface. In fact, due to their limiteed endurance and
range, AUVs need regular recharging and neeed to be launched
in the operational theater from the sea surface.

Figure 1 - Underwater cooperative nettwork of AUVs served by the

innovative patented ASV-SWATH design

Underwater recharging stationss, as those developed by

majors AUVs producers (e.g. Batttelle/Bluefin) are a viable
alternative when the operationaal theatre is fixed and
sufficiently close to a land-based power source.
he solution to this critical
MIT-iShip lab believes that th
technological gap, preventing effecctive realization of a fullyautonomous persistent network, may
y rely on the introduction of
specialized autonomous surface veh
hicles (ASV) designed and
optimized for the purpose.
We refer to this new ASV designs as the second generation.
The ASV industry and the end
d users, among which the
Navies, are currently considering thee adaptation and integration
of AUVs launching and recovering systems onto conventional
crafts, not conceived nor built for the specific purpose. This
current class of ASVs is what we deefine first generation.
Looking into the future, MIT-iiShip lab is optimizing the
design of an new ASV family, based
d on an innovative patented
design concept [1] which we consider to be the parent family
of the second generation ASVs.

Figure 2 - General arrangement of the ASV-SWATH (US patent 8763546 B2). Main systems are schematically represented.

This new family of vessels is characterized by superior

seakeeping characteristics and lower propulsion powering
requirements that have been obtained through proper
hydrodynamic optimization of the hull form. The hull features
an unconventional Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull
(SWATH) with a particular shape able to minimize wavemaking resistance (and hence drag) at design speed with
respect to conventional hull designs. The other design features
of the new ASV are functional to the concept of a collaborative
network of AUVs for persistent sea monitoring; in fact, the
new vessel is designed around the necessary systems to assist
(recharging, downloading data and reprogramming), deploy
and recover medium size AUVs directly in their field of
operation (Figure 1). These kind of operations require a very
stable platform in waves.

mutual unsteady hydrodynamic interference effects, as in this

case of the underwater vehicle placed inside the two
underwater hulls of the ASV-SWATH vessel. Using this
approach, the accurate motions of the new ASV are predicted
in different regular waves and compared to the motions of the
underwater vehicle in shallow submerged below the free
surface, ready to be picked up into the surface craft. Results
obtained permitted to describe interesting non-linear effects
caused by the interactions between the two vehicles, in terms
of radiated and diffracted waves and shed vortexes and by nonlinear hydrodynamic forces induced by the incident wave field
on the underwater vehicle. The results of time domain
simulations in regular waves are used to derive useful
guidelines for the design of the L&R system, introduced and
discussed in the last section.

The next section presents the main hydrodynamic

performance of the new family of ASVs, showing the strategy
followed to achieve superior seakeeping and powering
characteristics in comparison with those of conventional
catamaran designs. These are the main advantages that
distinguish the second generation ASV from the first.


In general, the excellent hydrodynamic characteristics are

obtained from the smart integration of advanced numerical
hydrodynamic simulation methods into the design procedure of
the ship hull, through parametric optimization methods. New
steady and unsteady CFD (computational fluid dynamic)
solvers have been developed for the purpose at the MIT iShip
lab. Seakeeping predictions are based on the fully non-linear
solution of the Navier-Stokes equations with free surface,
hence they fully consider the viscous effects. effectively
overcoming usual simplifications made in linear seakeeping
codes based on potential flow and linearized free surface
Non-linear viscous effects play an essential role in the exact
prediction of motions in waves of the unconventional SWATH
vessel and cannot be neglected for the assessment of AUVs
launching and recovery operations at sea. Time domain
seakeeping simulations described in the section III.B allow for
the simultaneous solution of multiple rigid bodies and their

The concept design of the new, patented vehicle is based on

a particular type of hull which belongs to the Small Waterplane
Twin Hull (SWATH) family.
As opposed to conventional SWATHs, the present hull has
a particular shape [1], which can significantly reduce the wave
resistance at the design speed. Research and design studies on
SWATH ships are relatively limited among the community of
naval architects and larger efforts have been conducted initially
in the US [2] and Japan [3] with some noticeable exceptions in
Europe [4]. The advantage of SWATH hulls versus
conventional catamarans or monohulls is the very good
seakeeping quality in a sea state. This is what made them
particularly attractive for application onto specialized vessels
that need to operate with low motions in waves, such as
passenger vessels [5], oceanographic and research vessels [6],
or military vessels [7]. Their larger diffusion, though, has
always been prevented by the inherent higher design
complexity (very sensible to load changes and difficult
underwater arrangement of the propulsion system) on one hand
and by the higher resistance characteristics on the other hand.
The higher drag is basically due to the higher wetted area
(higher friction drag) and non-optimal hull shape to minimize
the wave-making drag component.


The ASV-SWATH has a particular hull form designed by

optimization with CFD methods to achieve the minimum drag
ber range FnL=0.60.8) and
at cruise speed (in the Froude numb
to ensure the lowest motions amplitu
udes in a sea state. The first
characteristic is desirable to maxim
mize the range for a given
fuel capacity, while the second is necessary
to perform AUV
deployment and recharging in realisttic sea states.

Figure 3 - Front view of the ASV-SWATH.

Fig. 3 shows a 3D-view of the general arrrangement of the

small-size1 ASV-SWATH. In its smaller desiggn size, the hull is
about 6m long, and it is suitable to carry andd assist small size
AUV, the vessel full load displacement is abbout 4.2t; design
speed of this version is about 12 knots. The ppropulsion system
is diesel-electric, with two gen-sets of 25kWe each in the main
body (brown boxes in Figure 2). They are ssized to ensure a
sufficient reserve of energy to cover a range off about 150 miles
(at 12 knots) and recharge a few AUVs in a ssingle sortie. Two
fast and compact permanent magnet frequuency controlled
electric motors in the lower hull connnected through
epicycloidal gears (red cylinders) to the twin sllow turning fixed
pitch propellers. Four battery packs are fitted in the lower part
of the struts to lower the vertical center of ggravity. Fuel and
compensation ballast tanks are fitted in the ccentral portion of
the lower hulls (red and yellow colored pportions), leaving
space in the fore part of the vessel for smalller compensation
tanks and for other underwater sensors.
The upper structure (main body) is subbdivided in three
sections by two watertight bulkheads. The cenntral section hosts
the L&R and recharging system for AUVs: inn the example of
Fig. 3, a 2m long vehicle is presented insside the docking
section, in its pulled-in position. Two pairs of stabilizer fins are
fitted on each underwater hull. They are activated by an
integrated ride control system to correct the ddynamic trim and
sinkage of the SWATH at high speeds and to dampen roll,
pitch, heave motions in waves.
The connection between the main body and the struts is
wo pontoons and
dismountable and the three main pieces (the tw
the main body) of the vehicle are wateertight and selfsupporting. The length of the elements connnecting the main
body with the two pontoons is adjustable, to aallow the canting
angle of the struts to vary and adjust the connfiguration of the
hull to the particular mission and sea state. E
Electric and fluid
transmission between the main body and lower hulls use
dismountable sea grade watertight connectorrs. This way, the
ASV-SWATH can be easily dismounted and ffit into a standard
40 container for transportation and handling.

two other scaled versions of the original desiign have been

studied (12m and 24m overall lengths) which increase the
AUV transporting capacity (large and ultra-larrge) and the
overall range and operational capability (blue waters) of the
small version, designed for littoral use.

A. Resistance and Propulsion

he automatic computational
The high level flow chart of th
procedure used to optimize th
he hull is schematically
represented in Figure 4. It is based
d on an early study [8] that
investigated about the systematic usse of unconventional shapes
for drag reduction of SWATHs. The global convergence
nary type), by successive
minimization algorithm (evolution
iterations, drives the selection of thee free parameters values that
control the hull geometry towards th
he optimum shape; namely,
the shape that is able to minimize the objective function,
chosen as the total resistance in calm
m water in our case.

Figure 4 - High Level Flow chart of the Automatic

Fully Parametric Hull
Form Optimization Procedure

The core of the optimization procedure is in the fullparametric definition of the hulls and struts boundaries by
dent on a set of parameters
means of B-splines surfaces depend
that controls the shape, together with the CFD solver to predict
the drag of each design variant [8]. The parametric definition
conventional underwater hull shapees, i.e. no prismatic neither
drop-shaped, as in the totality of cu
urrent SWATH ships, but it
features an intermediate restriction
n at midship, leaving two
main sections: one in the fore-body
y and the other in the stern
body of the hull. The initial analy
ytical parametric definition
devised in [8] was recently upgrad
ded to a fully 3D B-splines
definition [9]. A typical shape generated during the
5 the bow is to the left. The
optimization is presented in Figure 5;
twin struts are designed in order to guarantee a sufficient
hydrostatic stability both in the trransversal and longitudinal
direction [10] enhancing the ability
y of the vessel to withstand
environmental heeling moments or those due to shifting loads
during AUV assistance operationss. The vessel is moreover
equipped with an active ballast systeem to compensate for longterm changes in displacement or attiitude.

the same beam to
displacement of the SWATH hull (keeping
draft ratio). The separation of the caatamaran demi-hulls was set
in order to achieve the same deck area of the ASV-SWATH.
The comparison of the two vessels is supplied in Figure 7. As
expected the draft of the catamaran results necessarily lower
ds to important implications
than that of the SWATH. This lead
for the design of the propeller.
Figure 5 - Example unconventional hulls obtained during optimization
(panel mesh for CFD computation represented)

An example of optimization convergencce history of the

lower hulls drag is in Figure 8. These recent opptimization cases
[11] consider the shape of the underwater huulls including the
ellipticity of the underwater hull sections andd also the canting
angles of the struts. In the example of Figure 6, only
underwater hull form is free to vary. Each blaack dot represents
a different geometry generated by the optimizzation algorithms
and evaluated by the numerical hydrodynam
mic method. The
objective function is the ratio between the tootal resistance of
the given design variant and that of the refereence hull form (a
first design made by experience). As noticeable, a reduction of
total resistance of more than 25% is achievedd at convergence
by last hull forms found after about 8000 variiants. Constraints
on displacement, longitudinal center of buoyancy and
maximum dimension of the main sections annd minimum size
of the section in way of the electrical motorss are imposed, to
get meaningful solutions to the ship desiggn problem. The
Bollinger bands colored in green in Figure 6, are related to
variance of the objective function at the particcular iteration and
hence another indicator of converge quality, iif their amplitude
decay with time.

Figure 6 - History of the Objective Function during Hull Form

Optimization. Each dot is a design variant corresponnding to a different
geometry. Bollinger bands are marked in green.

To facilitate the evaluation of the advantages oobtained with the

design optimization procedure we compare the drag of the
ASV-SWTH with that of an equivalent convenntional catamaran
design, similar to those used in the current genneration of ASVs.
The hull shape of the catamaran is takenn from Marintek
catamaran hull form ([12], p.279), a well-known highperformance contemporary fast catamaran, and scaled in
affinitude to reach about the same waterline length and same

Figure 7 - Bow and Stern views of the ASV-SWATH

side hulls (yellow
& cyan) and the equivalent fast catam
amaran (red) assumed for the
comparison of resistance and seakeeping performance. Vessels are
positioned in their respective design static drafts.

The calm water resistance characcteristics of both hulls were

calculated by an unsteady fully turrbulent viscous flow solver
[13], adapted to the case and extensiively validated with success
on different types of hulls by the au
uthor (e.g. [14] [15]) also in
case of SWATHs [16]. Figure 8 shows the results of
comparison of the two resistance curves versus speed. The
ws a drag reduction of about
unconventional ASV-SWATH show
20% at 12 knots (top speed), and reaaches nearly 40% reduction
at 9 knots, assumed speed for th
he hull shape optimization
(corresponding to Fn=0.6).

Figure 8 - Total calm water resistance vss. speed for the optimized ASVSWATH (red) and for a conventional cataamaran (blue). Given values are
normalized against the resistance of the cattamaran hull at 12 knots.

The relative powering requirem

ment between the proposed
second generation ASV design and
the current generation
ASVs represented by the catamaran
n vessel is going to increase
even further when the efficiency off the propulsors is added to
the bare hull drag. The installed propulsion power, in fact,
depends also on the propeller efficiency which is expected to
T is because the SWATH
be higher in case of the SWATH. This
having a considerably larger draft
ft can mount a larger and
slower-turning propeller (with hig
gher pitch) than the fast
catamaran that needs to keep the diameter of the propeller
h tunneled). An example
small to fit under the hull (already half

of optimum propeller selection with reliable estimate of the

open water efficiency can be found in [10].
B. Seakeeping
Major efforts have been dedicated at MIT Sea Grant in the
last three years to develop computational tools to accurately
simulate seakeeping performance of the innovative SWATH
vessels, partially sponsored by ONR. The first ONR grant was
dedicated to seakeeping methods for unconventional SWATHs,
the second to underway wireless recharging of AUVs from the
ASV-SWATH, for which it is fundamental to accurately
predict the relative motions between the two autonomous
To the above scope, we first developed a modified linear
strip theory method theoretically enhanced by the numerical
solution of viscous radiation forces. The main effort consisted
in the creation of an automatic CFD tool, based on OpenFoam
numerical libraries, to automatically compute added mass and
damping (as a function of frequency) for a series of stations
along the hull, in order to derive the radiation forces on the
whole hull. Studies made with the application of the CFD tool
to different ship hull sections has demonstrated that viscous
effects are essential components of radiation forces for the
unconventional SWATH [17]. An example of the predicted
vorticity shed by a section of the ASV-SWATH hull in way of
the struts, is given in Figure 9. Vorticity is created by flow
separation at the root of the struts and on the elliptic
underwater hull sections. The same figure shows the higher
level of the internal free surface, due to the so-called pistonmode resonance effect.

Figure 9 - Vortex shedding in heave oscillations predicted for a ASVSWATH section by viscous non-linear CFD tool developed at MIT-iShip

The relevance of viscous effects for the accurate prediction

of SWATH motions in regular and irregular waves was
addressed in [18], where the added mass and damping of the
3D ASV-SWATH hull were calculated and compared with a
potential flow based strip theory developed years ago at MIT
[19]. Motions evaluated with the viscous method result
considerably different from the pure potential ones: around the
first resonance mode (piston model frequency) the calculated
differences are 20% on the heave amplitude and 50% on the
pitch amplitude.
After demonstrating that a viscous numerical method is
essential for the accurate estimation of SWATH motions in
waves, we proceeded to verify the relevance of 3D effect. This
has been investigated directly creating a 3D fully non-linear
unsteady RANSE model to simulate the rigid body motion of

the two equivalent vessels in regular head waves , with

different length. A similar model was proven to be effective in
a validation study on the Series 60 [20] for which viscous
effects are not so relevant, though. The new model created for
the two different ASVs uses a mesh morphing technique to
allow for the motion of the body boundary. First results
obtained with the new model were presented in [18] for the
SWATH alone and more recently they have been completely
re-executed in a new study aimed to simulate the multi-body
motions of the ASV-SWATH with a submerged AUV in its
proximity at the same time [19]. We resume herebelow the
main results of the comparative investigation of the vertical
motions (pitch and heave) predicted for the ASV-SWATH and
the same equivalent catamaran design used for resistance
The latest viscous motion simulations of the SWATH
presented in [23] were obtained simulating regular waves
coming from the bow, having constant amplitude equal to
3.5% L and different lengths ranging from L to 4.5L. Constant
wave height was preferred with respect to constant wave slope,
since the latter choice would enhance non-linear effects in the
longest waves or determine too small motions in the shortest
waves. In case of SWATHs, a constant wave height with
variable length, tends to preserve the same type of non-linear
effect caused by the rapid shape-change of the tapered struts
around the calm free surface. The non-linear motion
simulations indeed showed additional higher order components
in the oscillatory response of the vessel, but only the first
harmonic of the input wave signal and of the output motion
signal obtained by Fourier analysis, is considered, following
ITTC recommendations, to derive the transfer functions
presented hereinafter. The global outcome of this investigation
is in the linear pitch and heave transfer functions presented in
Figure 10 and Figure 11. SWATH heave response is
significantly lower than that of the catamaran which is
generally twice in magnitude. This is true up to the relative
minimum at /L=3.5, where the heave motion amplitude of the
SWATH is four times smaller than the catamaran. For longer
wave lengths, the SWATH heave response seems to steeply
increase to assess on the resonance peak, typical of SWATHs
in longer waves. Close to resonance, viscous and non-linear
free surface effects are heavily affecting added mass and
damping forces. The exact estimation of these forces is
essential to obtain reliable motion predictions, as demonstrated
in [18] by means of the viscous strip theory, previously
Pitch motion response of the ASV-SWATH is also
significantly lower than that predicted for the catamaran. The
pitch motion amplitude of the new generation ASV-SWATH
measures about one third of the catamaran over all the
investigated range of wavelengths. The pitch motion amplitude
5, presented in Figure 11, is non-dimensionalized with respect
to the wave slope ka, where k=2/ is the wave number and a
is the incident wave amplitude. The rise of pitch motion
response happens at higher wave lengths than that observed for
heave at /L=4.
Additional series of simulations have been programmed to
investigate the responses of the SWATH in even longer waves,
to complete the definition of the vertical motions response in

waves up to the asymptotic limit of one to be rreached at higher

wave lengths.

dy is that motions of AUVs

The main conclusion of the stud
close to the wavy free surface are influenced
by strongly nonlinear effects that superpose imporrtant heave and pitch drift
motions on the linear ones that caan be predicted by current
state of the art potential flow meth
hods (WAMIT was used in
the specific). These effects can on
nly be captured by the nonlinear fully viscous flow simulation model proposed in [22].
ulations have been run with
Furthermore, a whole series of simu
the two vessel in the same model. The initial location of the
t equilibrium position in
SWATH and the AUV is set as the
calm water corresponding to the beginning of the recovering
a the same depth of the
manoeuvre, with the AUV just at
SWATH hulls and in between them
m, as represented in the aft
view of Figure 12.

Figure 10: Response amplitude operator of heave (3) motion of the

function of the ration
ASV-SWATH and of an equivalent catamaran as a fu
between the incoming wave length and the hull lengtth L.

Figure 12 - Aft view of the SWATH an

nd AUV positioned in the initial
configuration imagined for L&R and rechaarging.

Figure 11: Response amplitude operator of pitch (5) motion of the ASVSWATH and of an equivalent catamaran as a funnction of the ration
between the incoming wave length and the hull lengtth L.

The comparison of the results obtained with the present

fully viscous non-linear 3D model and those oobtained with the
strip theory method, confirm that the 3D effeccts are significant
for this particular unconventional SWATH configuration
which features two struts with a pronounced caanting angle.
Similar conclusions have been recently draawn from another
study on a different design of SWATH with siingle canted strut

The design study and feasibility assessm

ment of the AUV
launching/recovery (L&R) and the wireless reecharging system,
is strongly dependent on the ability to predicct motions of the
AUV relative to the ASV-SWATH. A deddicated study has
been conducted expanding the viscous unstteady simulation
model previously used for the ASV motion ppredictions to the
AUV alone and then for both vessels togethher. Main results
have been presented in [23]. We summarise here results only
&R system.
and use them to discuss the selection of the L&

Figure 13 - Viscous vortex field generateed by the ASV-SWATH and the

AUV during motion in incident wave wiith /L= 2.0. Transverse section
at x/L=-0.10 from midship is represented.

Mutual interference effects bettween the two vessels are

principally due to wave diffraction and wave reflection on the
SWATH and in a minor extent due to the radiated wave
produced by the AUV moving close to the free surface. The
influence of the SWATH disturbaance on the motion of the
AUV is evident from the pitch and heave time histories
15: both motions are
presented already in Figure 14 and Figure
affected by the presence of the SW
WATH which influences the
drift motions induced by non-lin
near forces acting on the
submerged vehicle. The effect of th
he SWATH on pitch varies
with the incident wave length, but generally tends to increase
the pitch amplitude of the AUVs aftter some oscillation periods.
This effect should be attributed to th
he radiated waves produced
by the SWATH when it reaches the
t steady state oscillatory

motion (after 5/6 periods). The simulation with two bodies

(cyan curve) stops at an earlier time, since the negative heave
drift motion away from the free surface was too rapid and the
numerical simulation diverged. Evident from the analysis of
the time history of the motions obtained for the AUV in
isolation (blue curve) are also the large drift motions that
appear on top of the otherwise regular (linear) pitch and heave
oscillations. This interesting effect, seldom capture in
numerical motion simulations of underwater vehicles is due to
non-linear hydrodynamic effects as discussed in more detail in
[22] and it scientifically deserves further investigation.
The significance of the viscous effects is well rendered by
the plot Figure 13, which presents the colored contour levels of
the in-plane vorticity field in a transverse plane for an incident
wave with length /L=2.0 relative to the vessel length L. The
complex structure of the vortex field is a result of the viscous
flow separation on the surface of the two pitching and heaving
vessels over time. It is relevant to note that the wave amplitude
considered in this study is relatively high (with respect to the
vehicle size) and corresponds to realistic sea state conditions
during operating conditions.
Results of all the simulations performed lead to the
conclusion that the recharging and L&R operation could not be
safely performed with the AUV close to the sea surface, as
initially imagined, due to large drift motions affecting the both
heave and pitch oscillation of the AUV. The ASV-SWATH,
instead, confirmed its excellent seakeeping ability when
simulated in head waves at zero speed. The studies were then
directed toward a different system to perform L&R and
recharging. The system is based on docking cradle which is
lowered from the ASV-SWATH hangar by means of the same
four winches represented in Figure 12. The cradle is lowered
sufficiently deep for the AUV (and the cradle) to be insensitive
to exciting forces induced by surface waves. This way the
AUV can align and dock inside the cradle contains buy means
of sonar beacon fit in the cradle. A grabbing device will then
block the AUV in position and the wireless transfer of energy
from the cradle to the AUV would then start. Recent studies
performed at MIT Sea Grant have concluded that this energy
transfer from the cradle to the AUV by induction resonant coils
is indeed possible even in seawater, with a good efficiency and
at sufficient power level to keep the recharging time
sufficiently short (few hours).

Figure 14: Heave motion vs. time predicted by the unsteady RANSE
solver for the AUV-solo (blue curve) and for the AUV together with the
ASV-SWATH (cyan curve). /LAUV=6.0 (/L=2.0).

Figure 15: Pitch motion vs. time predicted by the unsteady RANSE
solver for the AUV-solo (blue curve) and for the AUV together with the
ASV-SWATH (cyan curve). /LAUV=6.0 (/L=2.0).

The paper introduces the main concepts behind an
innovative, patented family of Autonomous Surface Vessels
that we refer to as the second generation ASVs. This new
design offers several advantages over the current state of the art
ASVs that have been illustrated in some detail. The
unconventional SWATH hull optimized by full parametric
geometry definition and high fidelity CFD methods achieves
superior performance in terms minimum propulsion powering
requirement and lowest motions in waves. These advantages
have been quantified by direct comparison with an efficient
modern catamaran design. The new ASV-SWATH scores
more than 40% less propulsion powering requirements than the
catamaran, which primarily derives from the optimized shape
of the hull for lowest drag at design speed and secondly from
the more efficient propellers that can be fit in the stern of the
SWATH compared to conventional catamarans (or monohulls).
Lower propulsion power requirements directly means
longer range or higher energy transfer capability for a given
amount of fuel embarked on the vessel. The expected
difference compared to the current state of the art is very
The seakeeping characteristics of the new ASV-SWATH
have been also detailed in the paper, touching also the main
aspects that make the numerical prediction of the SWATH
motions in waves unique when compared to conventional
surface crafts (monohulls or catamarans). The relevance of
viscous and 3D effects requested the development of new
numerical prediction tools, based on the solution of the fully
viscous non-linear flow around the SWATH hulls at least for
the radiation problem. Comparative motion predictions
obtained with the new CFD tools have confirmed the expected
superior seakeeping performance of the second generation
ASV over a conventional catamaran design: 50% less heave
and more than 60% less pitch for wavelengths ranging from 1
to 3.5 times the hull length.
The combination of lowest motions in waves with the
higher draft of the underwater hulls makes the new vessel
particularly attractive for installation of underwater sensors,
which are less influenced by the disturbance created by the
vessels motions and by waves on the sea surface.

The patented configuration of the new ASV-SWATH is

ideal to minimize above and below water signatures, including
wave and propeller wash which are a direct consequence of the
optimized hydrodynamic characteristics of the hull. Minimum
radiated noise (in air and in water) is guaranteed by the dieselelectric propulsion system configuration, which features the
gen-sets in air, and the very silent permanent magnet motors in
water. Diesel-Electric propulsion permits also the shortest
reaction time for maneuvering, achieved by differentiating the
thrust differentially on the two propellers. The large disposal of
electric power on board combined with an opportune power
management system, makes the use of electric energy
immediate, flexible and efficient. The vessel can switch from
propulsion to recharging mode almost instantaneously or can
seamlessly combine the two modes of operation.
At last, the particular vessel configuration made of three
almost-independent components (the underwater hulls, the
struts and the main superstructure) makes the ASV-SWATH a
modular and flexible platform. Different L&R systems can be
fit in the vessel and so it is for the recharging system. The
midship hangar in the main body can be easily reconfigured
with different payload. The canting angle of the side hulls can
be regulated and the layout of the vessel to adapted to different
mission requirements.
For the above reasons, the newly patented ASV-SWATH is
regarded as the missing element for an effective realization of
true persistent networks of AUVs and it is expected to set a
new benchmark for the measurement of ASV performance at
sea in different types of missions.
Interesting will be the next research phases which will see
the proof of concept by model tests at MIT wave tank or
directly on a prototype at sea. The smaller design version of the
new ASV-SWATH allows for the validation of the predicted
performance directly on a working full scale prototype against
reasonable upfront investment.











The seakeeping studies and results reported in this paper
have been obtained thanks to partial support of the Office of
Naval Research to MIT Sea Grant, grant N141110598 (CFD
methods for Seakeeping and Propeller Analysis of SWATH
Hull Forms) and grant N141310398 (Underway Wireless



Recharging of AUVs)..





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