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A Brief on the SNAME Paper

On Motion, Wetness and Such: The USS Midway Blister Story

1. Introduction
1.1 USS Midway which was commissioned in 1945, during its 44 year
operational period had undergone major structural modifications, primarily
addition of blisters twice during its life time, first one being in 1957 and the
second one in 1986.
1.2 The first blister was added to compensate for the increase of top
weight, due to the change of aircrafts from propeller driven to jet driven. The
addition of the blister increased the Moulded Beam by 8 ft over 74% of the
length of the ship and increased the GM accordingly.
1.3 The second blister, which was added during the refit of 1986, was
primarily done to increase the damage stability and structural strength of the
ship. This also resulted in an added advantage of decrease in draft. There
was an increase of Moulded Beam by 10 ft over a length of 683 ft. The blister
fully satisfied its primary objective to restore hull strength and damage
stability and also reduced draft about 8 in., increasing elevator freeboard by
the same amount. Draft could have been further reduced if the ship's shell
plating behind the new blister had been removed. This was not done as it
would have greatly increased design and installation time and cost.
Increased deck motions were recognized and advertised as a risk area with
the new blister; however, motion predictions placed the resulting deck
motions within the criteria developed more than a decade earlier and still in
use in 1985. However, it quickly became obvious that the deck motions were
often unsatisfactory, as reported almost immediately by the ship and a
totally unexpected phenomenon, excessive flight deck wetness, was
experienced. While deck motions met the existing criteria, they sometimes
precluded safe handling of aircraft on the flight deck.
2. Problem Analysis
2.1 The authors visited the ship in Dec 1986 to get a firsthand experience
of the unsatisfactory motions. Flight Deck wetness in the form of geysers
were observed, but what was more worrisome was the Time Period of the Roll
motions, was observed to be of the order of 11-12 sec. This was surprising,
as post blister fitment, the predicted roll motions was of the order of 13 -14
sec which was further confirmed by Free Roll Decay tests conducted at the
Basin near the shipyard, where the ship had undergone modification. The
discrepancy was later attributed to shallow water and basin effects not being
taken into account during the Free Decay Tests. The incorrect prediction was
also resolved as it was due to an incorrect estimation of k xx post blister
2.2 Further, field observations validated that the Roll Time Period was 12
secs, which compared to the pre-blister ship of 18 secs, was very less. The
drastic reduction in the Roll Period to 12 sec because of blister addition,
resulted in the lateral accelerations in the flight deck area being unconducive
for flight handling. At that time (1985), the only seakeeping criteria to be
met, was that the Max Single Amplitude of Roll should not exceed 5 deg and
in pitch not to exceed 2 deg. There was no reference either to Roll Time
period or lateral accelerations at flight deck area, which was an obvious
2.3 Further investigations revealed, that the addition of the blister
generated steep shoulder wave, often breaking, which diverged from the
ship's hull near the forward end of the new blister. It was judged likely that
there was a relationship between the flight deck wetness and the breaking
shoulder wave.
2.4 The rest of the paper describes in detail, the calculations and model
tests carried out to come with the solution to obviate the following major
(a) Increase the Roll Period from 12 s to max possible value.
(b)Reduction in Flight Deck Wetness through suitable modifications.
3. Ways to increase Roll Period
3.1 The Natural Time period for Roll was given by

= 2


I 'xx

+ 2
I 'xx = k xx

3.2 To increase the natural Time Period T , one can either increase kxx or
decrease GMT. Increasing kxx, was found to be not feasible at this stage. The
only alternate was to decrease GMT. The following options were explored for
decreasing GMT:-
(a) Increase in Top Wt. Adding weight topside to reduce GMT by
raising KG was also ineffective. For example, 1500 LT of topside
weight addition would reduce GMT by 1.0 ft and increase the natural
roll period by only 0.3 sec, whereas a GMT reduction of about 10 ft
would be required to increase the natural roll period to 15 sec.
Fifteen seconds as a minimum acceptable roll period had been
stipulated as a result of preliminary ship motions study.
(b)Notching the Hull. "Notching" the hull; that is, reducing ship
beam at the waterline by cutting away part of the new blister.
(c) Free-flood tanks. Free Flood tanks that is, opening a portion of the
new blister to the sea with large enough openings to the air and
water so that the tank contents would act as true free surface.
(d)SLO-ROL tanks. This was a patented concept for lowering the free
surface of a free-flood tank below the external waterline by cross-
connecting opposite tanks by an air pipe and pressurizing the tanks.
All the options explored are shown in the Fig below:-

3.3 After detailed study the Notch Hull configuration was selected,
for further Model tests for validation, prior to commencement of
4. Reduction in Flight Deck Wetness
4.1 The scupper extensions and boat guards mounted on the hull near the
waterline were generating a great deal of spray. These extensions, had been
installed to direct often unpleasant overboard discharges down to the
waterline to prevent their being caught by the wind and carried back aboard
or onto the crews of small boats alongside.
4.2 Second, there was a large secondary wave generated by the hull
shoulder at ship speeds over about 16 knots. This wave originated near the
forward end of the blister and was breaking almost constantly, even in calm
4.3 The assumption was made that both the scupper extensions and the
breaking shoulder wave contributed to the wetness problem. A three-
pronged approach was taken in seeking a solution. A decision to remove the
scupper extensions and boat guards was taken and implemented.
4.4 The next plan of action was to reduce the shoulder wave created by
the blister in the forward region, by modifying the underwater hull such that
a new wave system is generated to cancel the shoulder wave. Various hull
modification options were studied through Model Tests, and the one that was
finally accepted was to modify the existing Taylor bulb, since it involved the
least technical risks.
4.5 It was recognized that the efforts to solve the ship's wetness problem
by preventing spray generation might not be fully successful. Therefore,
ways of trapping or deflecting the spray to prevent its reaching the flight
deck were also studied. Three approaches were considered: extending the
flight deck outboard in way of the wetness (just forward of the existing flight
deck sponsons port and starboard), raising and increasing the size of the
existing missile sponson at the hangar deck level just forward of the
starboard elevator and adding a similar sponson on the port side, and spray
rails. Of these, spray rails proved to be by far the most practical and
cost-effective alternative.
5. Studies on fitment of large Bilge Keels to increase Roll
5.1 Larger bilge keels were studied as a possible motion improvement
supplementary to the notch. Midway is fitted with 5 ft-0 in. span bilge keels,
the largest as on that date. These bilge keels were installed in 1980 in an
earlier effort to improve the ship's roll behavior; the previous bilge keels had
a span of 3 ft-0 in. Studies showed that the maximum feasible bilge keel
span was 8 ft-3 in. The maximum span bilge keel would be located higher on
the ship's hull than the current bilge keel and this relocation would have two
costly impacts:
(a) Twenty-four large damage control valves located near the turn of
the bilge would have to be relocated (they had previously been
relocated outboard to the new blister shell in 1986).
(b)The existing shell at the turn of the bilge in way of the relocated
bilge keel would have to be removed and replaced with new, crack
resistant HY-80 to serve as a proper backing plate.
5.2 Further, Ship Motion Program (SMP) was used to predict the damping
characteristics. Model Tests were also conducted with the larger bilge keels.
Though the prediction software could not validate the results of Model Tests,
primarily because roll damping has got non-linear components, the order of
increased damping because of the larger bilge keels of 8ft-3in was
20%.Though, the increase in damping would by itself would not increase the
ship roll periods, a decision was taken to hold in abeyance the fitment of
larger keel, post the operational feedback received from the ship on the
efficacy of Notching the hull.
6. Conclusion and Recommendations
6.1 Though the proposed changes could not be carried out, due to the
severe Naval funding crisis for the project, the following major conclusions
can be derived from the USS Midway blister story:-
(a) Natural roll periods derived from sallies performed in restricted
water can be significantly in error. Width and depth restrictions are
both significant.
(b)If blisters are added to a high-speed hull in such a manner that hard
shoulders are introduced into the sectional area curve, the result is
likely to be a large, breaking shoulder wave which adds drag and
increases the likelihood of undesirable deck wetness.
(c) Large transverse metacentric heights lead to large lateral
accelerations topside with undesirable effects on equipment and
payload handling evolutions, especially aircraft handling. These
effects are magnified when the ship's natural roll period, operating
area, and speed/heading profiles are such that roll resonance occurs
(d)A notch in way of the waterline along a ship's hull is an effective
way to reduce transverse metacentric height. Such a notch reduces
calm-water resistance a small amount and, surprisingly, shows no
tendency to slam or generate wetness. In fact, the notch seems to
channel waves along the hull in such a way that the normal wetness
and slamming tendencies are reduced.
(e) Free-flood tanks inboard of a ship's side shell are an effective way to
reduce transverse metacentric height. However, such tanks
increase ship resistance a substantial amount and hence are
impractical for high-speed ships if a large amount of free surface,
that is, GMT reduction, is required. Also, free-flood tanks will
increase ship roll motions at some speed/heading combinations, for
example, in stern quartering seas at moderate forward speeds. This
must either be accepted or means devised to inactivate the tanks in
such situations.
(f) Very wide bilge keels can significantly reduce ship roll amplitudes.
However, there is significant technical risk associated with such
bilge keels since they have not been evaluated full scale and
present methods of predicting bilge keel performance by analysis or
model tests are uncertain at best. Unforseen side effects, such as
increased wetness, may result.
(g)Relatively small protuberances on the shell of a high speed ship
near the waterline can readily generate extraordinary amounts of
topside wetness.
(h)Hull form modifications to ease the shoulder on a ship's sectional
area curve are effective in reducing the associated shoulder wave
generated by the moving ship hull.
(i) Bow and shoulder bulbs can be used effectively to modify the bow
and shoulder waves generated by a moving ship hull in order to
achieve amplitude reductions in specific zones along the hull. The
technical risks associated with shoulder bulbs are significant since
they have not been evaluated full scale.
(j) Modern 3-dimensional potential-flow free-surface computer
programs predict flow along the hull surface aft of the immediate
bow which agrees well with model tests. Thus they are valuable,
cost-effective tools for performing comparative assessments of
candidate hull form modifications in the design process. Further
improvements in these programs are needed to better predict the
maximum bow wave height.
(k) Properly configured spray rails can be effective in alleviating the
deck wetness experienced by large ships as well as small ones.
However, they are not a substitute for a proper hull form and
adequate freeboard.
(l) Video tapes are a valuable and cost-effective way to observe and
record full-scale ship and model behavior in waves. They should be
used more extensively at sea and in the model tank.