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Theoretical Determination of Metacentric Height of a Floating Body

Consider the symmetrical floating body with vertical section and plan at water line as shown
in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1

When the body takes a small angle of heel (tilt)  , the new water line is D’E’ (Fig. 2).
Immersed volume although is equal to V has a new shape and the centre of buoyancyB will
shift to Centroid C of new volume D’QE’. We can find the shift of the centre of buoyancy
from B to C by considering moments of volumes about the axis of symmetry OO’.

Fig. 2
Since there is no change in immersed volume,

 ( y  x tan  ).dA   y.dA


 x.dA  0
i.e. OO’ passes through centroid of water plane area.

D’QE’ is obtained by subtracting wedge shaped volume DOD’ from left and adding EOE’ on
right. These two wedges are equal in volume. Centroid will shift from B to C. BN is the
shift parallel to OX and NC is the shift perpendicular to OX.

Immersed volume element at distance x has height ( y  x tan  ), length l, width dx (or cross
sectional area of element at distance x is dA  l.dx ).

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The shift in B is only due to additional moment about O of DOD’ and EOE’. The additional
volume at distance x is, dV  x tan  .dA, dA is the projected area on water plane
dA  l.dx, where l is the length of element of width dx parallel to axis OO’ (Fig. 1).

Fig. 3

V .BN   x.dV   x 2 . tan  .dA  tan   x 2 .dA  I . tan 


I
BN  tan  (1)
V

Similarly shift normal to X direction, NC is found by additional moments about OX. Since
the centroid of dV is at a distance of (x / 2) tan  from OX,

x x
. tan  .dV  . tan  .x tan  .dA
2 2
x x 1
V .NC   . tan  .dV   . tan  .x tan  .dA  tan 2   x 2 .dA
2 2 2
Since  x .dA  I
2

I
NC  . tan 2  (2)
2V

Fig. 4

BM  BL  LM  BL  LC / tan   NC  BN / tan 
Substituting from (1) and (2),
I 1 
BM  1  tan 2   (3)
V 2 
For small angles of heel, tan 2    2  0
I
Therefore BM 
V
i.e. the position of M is fixed for small  . Metacentric height GM = BM – BG = I / V - BG.

For greater stability we must have small BG and large I / V.

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