Hydraulics Wave Basin

Exterior shot of IIHR's Wave Basin Facility at the Research Park.

IIHR’s new state-of-the-art Wave Basin Facility, completed in 2010, is a clear-span facility for ship hydrodynamics research and related education. The facility’s 40x20x3-meter basin accommodates free-model testing in an open body of water for critical analysis of naval vessel maneuverability and seaworthiness. Research engineers test radio-controlled scale-model navy ships under a variety of real-life conditions, created by the basin’s six wavemakers. The free-moving models maneuver like real ships — straight ahead, zigzag, full circle, and even capsize.

A custom eight-ton overhead carriage tracks the radio-controlled ships using indoor global positioning and two-camera vision, shadowing the vessels to within +/- 100 mm. A 3D particle image velocimetry system measures fluid velocities around the ships, facilitating the collection of detailed flow data. The scale models can be tested for maneuvering, seakeeping, etc. — potentially saving lives when the ship design is in use by the U.S. Navy.

The IIHR’s wave basin is the first to include local flow measurement capabilities, critical for continued development of simulation-based design. Unlike towing tanks using captive ship models, which typically allow only straight line movement with very limited side to side motion, the wave basin facility with its local flow measurement instruments can test ships under many different real-world conditions, measuring the water flow and wave patterns around the ship, including breaking waves, bubbly ship wake flows, unsteady hull surface pressure, and more.

Data collected from wave basin experiments support the development of computational codes used to evaluate naval ship design. The wave basin also has office space, a conference room, storage area for ship models, model prep room, and a small shop.

Specialized equipment:

  • Wave basin
  • Overhead carriage

Note: The massive 43×27-foot Tigerhawk logo painted on the floor of the wave basin is the largest rendering of the logo in existence.