Sailing on the Edge: The Science Behind the Sport.

Flying Nacra Double Southampton Alumni Dr Laura Marimon Giovannetti sailing on the edge

Join the University of Southampton for our next virtual webinar: Sailing on the Edge: The Science Behind the Sport. This event will be held on Thursday 22 July, at 18:00 – 19:00 BST. We are delighted to be featuring an all-alumni line up, with award-winning Sports Broadcaster John Inverdale hosting the event. John will be joined by professional sailor Emily Nagel, former Simulator Lead at INEOS TEAM UK James Roche and Dr Joseph Banks, lecturer in Ship Science at the University of Southampton.The panel will provide an insight into how engineering and science underpin innovation and success in world-class sailing, and in particular, Southampton’s impact on the sport.

This event will include a Q&A session where you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions.

Emily Nagel is the Director of Triangle Racing, a Naval Architecture and Performance Data analysis company, and has held positions with Great Britain’s SailGP. In June, Emily is competing in ‘The Ocean Race Europe Tour’. James Roche has recently worked for INEOS TEAM UK as a Simulation and Performance Team Lead and earlier this year was a part of the INEOS’s America’s Cup Team. Dr Joseph Banks is a lecturer in Ship Science/Marine Engineering at the University, specialising in experimental and computational fluid dynamics, particularly in high performance sport.

Visit the Eventbrite page: for more information and to register for this fantastic event!”

opportunities to take charge of YOur maritime future

At sea trials of autonomous vessel C-Cat3

We will be running three virtual open days so that you can find about our Maritime Engineering Science MSc at the start of December. We offer a series of exciting pathways through our IMarEst, IMechE and RINA accredited degree programmes tailored to specific maritime industry sectors. Our teaching is delivered by an academic team at the forefront of their disciplines from machine learning and artificial intelligence, design optimisation, lightweight composite structures, future fuels, aero-hydrodynamics, maritime robotics and advanced performance craft.

We offer the following pathways for entry in academic year 2021/2022:

Our MSc programme, running since 1992, has always offered a cutting edge, research driven,and challenging educational opportunity with our graduates much sought after in the worldwide maritime sector. A sector that will continue to thrive as it faces the challenges of

  • sustainably harvesting the ocean’s resources be that renewable energy from wind, wave and tide, searching for rare minerals or managing aquaculture
  • ensuring the safety of everybody at sea from small leisure craft to cruise ships with thousands of passengers and crew
  • designing the ships of the future that deliver 80%+ of the world’s trade to ensure they are emission free
  • developing autonomous systems that can explore the oceans, protect individuals from harm and ensure the oceans can be protected
Fleur using wave energy to travel along our 138 m long wave/tow Boldrewood tank

It would be great to see you at our virtual open day but if you are unable to attend please contact us.

Zero Carbon Coastal HIGHway

A hydrogen fuelled fast container ship proposed in Ivo Veldhuis’ Thesis in 2007

Will future ships use clean green Hydrogen as their power source? Maritime Research and Innovation UK (MarRIUK) has proposed a major modal transport shift as part of the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. The vision is to have within 10 years a fleet of UK built coastal zero carbon ships transporting goods and cargoes around the UK’s large network of ports. Shifting transport from already congested road and rail onto water which is already the lowest energy method of goods transport.

The proposal was developed by a core team of MarRIUK working group members from BMT, Shell Shipping and ourselves at the University of Southampton. It looks to transform how the UK makes the most of its coastal highways. Examining the transport logistics system as whole will allow many of our smaller ports to be transformed, sustaining their localities, will reduce the growing pressures on our road and rail bottlenecks, will revolutionise the approach to vessel traffic management and greatly ease the development of maritime autonomous systems development. However, front and centre is the need to decarbonise shipping. The development of a flagship fleet of zero carbon ships will allow us to take the bold step needed to replace fossil fuels with an energy source that has pollutant free emissions will blaze a trail to the industry woldwide showing how it can be done.

Research and Innovation will be at the heart of the work bringing together the maritime and other sectors to develop a cost effective transport system. MarRIUk is part of Maritime UK which next week (12th-18th Oct 2020) has a series of events as part of Maritime Week 2020. An opportunity to showcase the many aspects of the maritime sector in the UK which is such a strong part of our economy.

Safe passage to the future: the value of Maritime Engineering

Maritime Robotics’ L3 Harris CCAT ready for use at sea

Maritime Engineering is often seen as one of the smaller engineering discipline and yet it support one of the most important sectors of the UK economy [Maritime 2050: Navigating the future, UK Dept for Transport].  With seas and oceans often out sight in our day-to-day lives it is often overlooked.

A recent study from the US indicates that it is worthwhile taking a closer look at the maritime disciplines of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.  These were rated as the best value for money degree, in a comparison to all other 162 fields of study considered. While we don’t have immediate access to similar study in the UK our experience is certainly that our graduates are always in strong demand.

Why is this?  As the recent government led Maritime 2050 report indicates it is vital to our prosperity and security. We rely on the oceans for our trade, for sustainable food and for an ever increasing part of our energy from marine renewables.  MaritimeUK is championing the sector which is:

Supporting over 1 million jobs and adding £46.1bn to our economy, maritime is responsible for facilitating 95% of UK global trade, worth over £500bn per year. The UK maritime workforce is 42% more productive than the average UK worker. Maritime makes a greater contribution to the UK economy than both rail and air combined

Naval Architects and Marine Engineers are vital to the success of the world’s ‘blue economy’. This could be the design of ships to carry cargo around the world, offshore wind and tidal devices to harvest green renewable energy , autonomous underwater and surface vehicles to explore the oceans , superyachts for leisure and racing yachts such as those for the America’s Cup. Many of our graduates can be found outside of design in the production and safe operation of these vessels, as data analysts or as brokers. They are embracing the digital revolution in Maritime Engineering, where AI, Machine Learning, carbon fibre composites, 3D additive manufacturing and autonomous systems are opening up careers in this growing sector.  

While it is good to see that Maritime Engineering provides financially rewarding careers it has always been the case that the engineering challenges are significant and are stimulating in their own right. Professional Naval Architects can trace their origins back to at least the Romans, with their associations of shipwrights. Today we need to face the challenge of decarbonisation, cleaning the oceans all while ensuring that in the future our use of its vast resources is sustainable. All of these will need a bright, committed and diverse next generation of Maritime Engineers –  please contact us if you would like to find out more.

Our Maritime Engineering degree programmes at Southampton are accredited by three leading professional engineering societies, Royal Institution of Naval Architects, RINA, Institute of Maritime Engineers, Scientists and Technologists. ImarEST and the Institution of Mechanical Engineering, IMechE.

Slow and steady vs fast and furious

Recent papers in Engineering Optimisation and Sports Engineering and Technology by lead author Dr Chris Phillips reported on work from his PhD studies investigating the energetics of underwater fly kick in swimming .

Bubble screen helping capture behaviour of fluid during flykick

It is an interesting question in performance swimming, especially in longer events, is for how long and with what intensity an underwater fly kick can be used? A more intense, mainly lower leg intense kick may well allow a faster speed but is it worth the energy cost compared to a more whole body wave motion ?

Image from dynamic motion capture showing key point locations and corresponding element positions

This work carried out by the performance sport engineering laboratory used a combination of kinematic measurements of a world class swimmer, an applied fluid dynamics code using Lighthill’s method and a state-of-the-art muscoskeletal analysis code to use the measured motion, coupled with estimates of fluid loading to evaluate the likely muscle activity required and hence energy cost of two approaches to underwater fly kick. Optimisation methods were used to generalise the approach from a specific swimmer to a more general result.

Anybody image of same poistion taht allows estimates of muscle group engagement

So how should swimmers trade-off their techniques during a race? Watching the best, especially as they proceed through heats to final clearly shows that they understand that the trade-off is there to be made. But what is clear to all is that having a great underwater fly kick techniques that allows a swimmer to access both methods is a powerful tool to deploy in competition.

Reducing ships fuel emissions via AI-driven voyage optimisation software

Despite the fact that shipping is such an efficient form of transport, it still accounts for ~2% of world emissions. With 50,000+ commercial vessels operating in our ocean’s there is plenty of room to improve the efficiency of these vessels to help our planet. This view is supported by shipping’s regulators and there is increasing legislative pressure to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. This increase in legislation is in combination with the increase in the cost of compliant fuels and has led to a high demand for solutions to reduce fuel-consumption of commercial vessels.

Therefore, Dr Adam Sobey and Dr Przemyslaw Grudniewski from the Maritime Engineering group at the University of Southampton have partnered with Theyr ltd to create an efficient voyage optimisation solution for commercial vessels. The project will focus on combining real-time high-fidelity met-ocean data, provided by Theyr ltd, with a world-leading Genetic Algorithm, developed previously by Dr Sobey and Dr Grudniewski. This will increase the robustness and effectiveness of voyage planning, allowing vessels to avoid poor weather and travel at efficient speeds to reduce greenhouse gases emissions.

The project is funded by a grant from the £4.8 million SPRINT program (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology), which was developed to help merge commercial data and technologies with innovative university research.  Furthermore, it is planned to utilise the IRDIS 5 supercomputer, the UK’s largest academic supercomputer located in University of Southampton, to accelerate the verification process. We hope a number of student projects will be developed in parallel to this research to help the team solve these challenging issues and provide creative solutions to provide real world impact.

Further details can be found in the trade and engineering press: FreightcommsSHIP Technology, Vessel Performance Optimisation and the May 2020 issue of the Naval Architect, published by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects.

Awarding times for ocean exploration

An Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV) towing two Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) out to shore form the port of Kalamata, Greece

Dr Blair Thornton, Associate Professor of Marine Autonomy in the FSI group and Director of the Centre of Excellence for In situ and Remote Intelligent Sensing (IRIS) has recently been awarded the 2020 Waterway Technology Award in Japan as part of Team KUROSHIO, Japan’s entry to the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery X-Prize.

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Team KUROSHIO recently placed 2nd in the 2019 Shell Ocean Discovery X-Prize, receiving a $1.1M runner up cheque at the award ceremony held in June 2019 in Monaco. 

The Shell Ocean Discovery X-Prize was an international robotics competition that saw 27 teams from around the world to compete for a total prize of $7M. The competition was held in Kalamata, Greece in December 2018, and required teams to survey a 500km2 region of seafloor located 15 nautical miles from shore at a depth of 4000m in the Mediterranean sea. At 4000m depth, maps generated from ships equipped with state of the art acoustic mapping devices would only achieve a resolution of ~40m, but teams here were required to generate maps with better than 5m resolution, meaning that they would need to deploy submersible robots the achieve this feat. Teams had 48hours to complete this ambitious challenge, where all operations from the moment the robotic platforms entered the water at the port of Kalamata until their eventual return to the port had to be carried with not human intervention. 

Team KUROSHIO’s entry consisted of two, 4000m depth rated Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and an Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV). The team was able to successfully transit from the port to the survey site and deploy their systems to survey over 100km2 of the seafloor in the available time. Once the systems found their way back to shore, the team had a further 48 hours to process the data collected by the submersibles, to determine their location in GPS denied underwater environment, and generate 5m resolution maps of the seafloor in the surveyed region. Team KUROSHIO placed second to GEBCO Alumni, an international team consisting of 30+ members. 

In addition to receiving the $1.1M runner up prize for their achievement in the competition, the members of Team KUROSHIO were invited by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to be congratulated by him directly, and receive the 2020 Waterway Technology Award for this outstanding achievement. 

If you want to try your hand at Maritime Robotics, you can find current opportunities to do a PhD in the subject here

and here

Or if you just want to see some videos of related activities, visit these links 

IRIS centre –

Adaptive Robotics –

If you are an undergraduate and want to get involved, you can take SESS6072 Maritime Robotics of contact any member of staff about projects and internships in Maritime Robotics.

HUman in the loop

As we consider how best to use autonomous systems in the maritime sector it becomes ever more important to consider the human factor in the design and safe operations of ships. Current third year ship science student Dhwani Oakley recently presented at the Royal Institution of Naval Architects(RINA) International Conference on Human Factors at RINA HQ in London.

The motivation for the conference as stated by RINA reflects the growing awareness of the importance of human factors within ship design. The work of naval architects and marine engineers directly influences the operability and safety of ships and seafarers and decisions made at the design stage influence human behaviour. Therefore an improved understanding of human factors and ergonomics by engineers can help us identify and ‘design out’ hazards which cause accident and injury.

The conference included discussion around a wide range of human factors topics including:

  • The integration of human factors into the design process
  • Practical applications of human factors engineering
  • Improving habitability
  • The design of navigation & control systems and onboard operational organisation and teamwork.
  • The design for safety and performance

Dhwani delivered a presentation about the role of Class in human factors and the development of ergonomics guidance for safe access and egress, Dhwani’s work was carried out while working as an intern last summer with Lloyd’s Register’s (LR) Global Technology Centre. LR are also based on our University Boldrewood Innovation Campus (SO16 7QF)

Ship Science at the International 14 Worlds in Perth

The International 14 World Championships have just been completed in Perth Australia.  Ship Science graduate Tom Partington (2010) and his dad Andy were defending champions having clinched the title in 2018 in San Francisco.  They started the series well with a second and sixth in the first two races.  The windy conditions for races 3 and 4 resulted in damage to their bowsprit causing them to retire from both races.  This ended their defence of the title as only one race could be discarded.

Andy and Tom Partington sailing Penguin Dance (GBR1559) in Perth

However, not all was lost for Ship Science, Daniel Holman  who graduated from Ship Science in 2012 and his crew Alex Knight fought hard to the end of the regatta with wins in the final two races to secure second place.  The regatta was won by fellow British paring and multiple world champion Archie Massey and his crew Harvey Hillary.  Third place was taken by Neale Jones and Edward Fitzgerald to see all three podium places occupied by British boats.

Daniel Holman and Alex Knight sailing Helly the Pelly (GBR1556) in Perth

Great British SHIPS

If you have a little more free time over the holiday period then one way to relax might be to watch the second series produced by windfall films for channel 5 on Great British Ships. Our own Professor Dominic Hudson takes part in the episode on RMS Queen Mary. A fascinating episode, especially with respect to Queen Mary’s role as a fast troop carrier in WWII.

One aspect related to its encounter with a rogue wave and its resultant large angle of roll. An effect very nicely illustrated using the wave maker system in our Boldrewood towing tank. The programme presenter took to a kayak to demonstrate how vessels can safely pass through large waves head on but are more challenged when side on. If you watch carefully (at about 30 or so minutes in) although the kayak does indeed capsize in the extreme wave there might have been a little bit of paddle assist…

This is not the first time our towing tank has been used for TV programmes, see for example the BBC documentary commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland. The biggest impact so far is Dr Sally Bennett’s video of a large amplitude regular wave which so far has reached 2.9M views on YouTube.