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Autonomous Surface Craft

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Optimized P

Performance for AUVs Assistance at Sea

Stefano Brizzolara

Innoovative Ship Design lab. & MIT Sea Grant

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA, USA

stebriz@mit.edu

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

V, USV, SWATH

I. INTRODUCTION

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.

innovative patented ASV-SWATH design

n.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

conditions.

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

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.

ARACTERISTICS

III. HYDRODYNAMIC CHA

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

n

to perform AUV

deployment and recharging in realisttic sea states.

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.

1

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.

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.

A

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)

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.

Optimization. Each dot is a design variant corresponnding to a different

geometry. Bollinger bands are marked in green.

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

A

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.

d

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.

ment between the proposed

second generation ASV design and

a

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

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

vehicles.

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

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

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

comparison.

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

mentioned.

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

wave lengths.

The main conclusion of the stud

close to the wavy free surface are influenced

i

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.

function of the ration

ASV-SWATH and of an equivalent catamaran as a fu

between the incoming wave length and the hull lengtth L.

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.

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

[22].

RECHARGING

IV. AUV LAUNCHING, RECOVERING AND R

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&

AUV during motion in incident wave wiith /L= 2.0. Transverse section

at x/L=-0.10 from midship is represented.

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

F

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

(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).

V. CONCLUSIONS

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

significant.

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.

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.

[6]

[7]

[8]

[9]

[10]

[11]

[12]

[13]

[14]

[15]

[16]

[17]

AKNOWLEDGMENTS

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

[18]

[19]

Recharging of AUVs)..

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