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The Military Transportation Science Technology

The World's First Supercavitating Boat? 186

An anonymous reader writes "For decades, researchers have been trying to build boats, submarines, and torpedoes that make use of supercavitation — a bubble layer around the hull that drastically reduces friction and enables super-fast travel. Now a company in New Hampshire called Juliet Marine Systems has built and tested such a craft, and says it is the world's fastest underwater vehicle. The ship, called the 'Ghost,' looks like two supercavitating torpedoes with a command module on top, and can carry 18 people plus weapons and supplies. The company is in talks with the U.S. Navy to build a version of the ship that can guard the fleet against swarm attacks by small boats. The question is how well it really works, and whether it can be used reliably and effectively on the high seas."
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The World's First Supercavitating Boat?

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  • by Lev13than ( 581686 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:19PM (#40403319) Homepage

    This type of boat is probably too limited in usefulness to be adopted by the navy. In terms of R&D capabilities it feels a lot like the experiments from the 1960s to develop militarized hydrofoils - the Canadian HMCS Bras d'Or [] being one good example. Despite impressive stability and speeds in excess of 60 knots (70mph), the limited load capacity and range made the prototypes unsuitable for military use.

    The biggest hit, however, was the introduction of missiles. The difference between 20 and 30 knots isn't all that important when you're defending against a Sea Sparrow running at 500 mph. In WWII there were lots of destroyers running in excess of 35 knots. Now it's just the nuke-powered ACs that do top speeds, and everyone else is more worried about conserving fuel.

    That means the proposed boat is really just a replacement for patrol vessels or stealth assault craft, and it doesn't look like the advantages of the design outweigh the compromises in handling, noise, carrying capacity and cost.

  • by skelly33 ( 891182 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @07:53PM (#40405687)
    So a couple years ago I was recollecting to a friend who is in the U.S. Coast Guard about a science program I had seen on TV about a new boat the CG was experimenting with which used hydrofoils to lift the main hull clear of the water when the boat was at speed. I asked him whatever happened to that program as it looked super interesting and promising for high speed water craft. He said they were abandoned because they would routinely be cruising along and strike a submerged log floating in the water which would rip one or more of the hydro foil skis off, and that would be the end of that boat. It happened *all* the time.

    This vehicle appears to me that it would suffer the same problem - strike something submerged just below the surface and one of those pontoons becomes damaged or separated and down goes your boat.

    A regular boat hull has the advantage of coming up to an obstacle at speed like that and skip right over the top of it, no harm, no foul, (albeit with a horrible sound within). At least the CG ships had a regular hull + the hydrofoil skis so that if there was a problem of that sort, it just sank back down to the regular hull. For the design proposed, it doesn't look like the craft would even float without the two pontoons, so those guys would be farkt. I suggest not buying it.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson