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Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering

NAOE Midshipmen Honors Senior Thesis, EN503H and EN504H

Midshipmen interested in pursuing research related to their degree have the opportunity senior year.  The range of topics vary based on the requirements and funding of outside sources, as well as the research interests of faculty and midshipmen.  The following midshipmen conducted research as part of an Honors Senior Thesis course, EN503H and EN504H, with Associate Professor Paul Miller, Professor Dave Fredriksson, Associate Professor Michael Morabito, and CDR Jeff Woertz.


Midshipman First-Class John Tortorici is designing and building an autonomous, zero emission, research vessel nicknamed SMART-E (Smithsonian's Marine Autonomous Research Trimaran - Electric).  The project includes conceptual design, feasibility analysis, and a detailed design of the hull.  An 8 foot long, fiberglass, trimaran design (three hulls) provides stability to operate the embarked research equipment, segregation of boat propulsion from research equipment, and a shallower draft for river operations.  SMART-E will be fabricated from the detailed designs in order to provide a working prototype to Dr. Whitman Miller of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.  Midshipman First-Class Ellen Bradford and Professor Brad Bishop are developing the systems components that will be incorporated into the boat to guide and navigate SMART-E.

tortorici, cutting fiberglasstortorici, fiberglass tests

Pictures: Midshipman Tortorici cutting hull.  Fiberglass samples for testing.


Midshipmen studying Ocean Engineering annually build a concrete canoe to compete in a contest hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers.  Previous teams from USNA have used the same hull form for several years with only limited success during the race portion of the competition.  Midshipman First-Class Thomas Wilson pursued a research project to enhance the resistance and maneuverability characteristics of the concrete canoe in order to improve on these competition performances.  He designed three new hull models in order to tank test them for straight line resistance, directional stability, and ability to turn.  The models vary due to their differences in beam, rocker, and dead rise.  As of December 2015, the three new models are being built with support from hydro lab and technical shops staff, in particular Dave Majerowicz and Mark Pavkov.  Once constructed, the hulls will undergo simple resistance testing followed by more complicated maneuverability tests will be completed.

Wilson, Canoe ContestWison, Canoe Test

Pictures: Ocean Engineers in concrete canoe competition.  Canoe hull testing in wave tank.


Midshipman First-Class Nick Lane analyzed the feasibility and engineering requirements of using liquid natural gas (LNG) engines as a propulsion source for Great Lakes Ice Breaker ship, specifically retrofitting the WLBB-30 Class Coast Guard Icebreaker.  The Great Lakes is currently desperate for another medium/heavy ice breaker to maintain sea lanes for commercial shipping.  Research looked at the volume and weight requirements necessary to house both LNG engines and fuel tanks.  Additionally, he looked into changes in performance of the vessel that may result.  The research ultimately determined that a retrofit of the current Mackinaw Icebreaker is not feasible, and to introduce LNG into the Coast Guard fleet, a new ship design must be created.

Lane, USCGC MackinawLane, LNG Ship Propulsion

Pictures: USCGC Mackinaw ice breaker on the Great Lake.  Sample layout of LNG ship propulsion.


Midshipman First-Class Steven Reidel is studying the effects of long line kelp farms with respect to reducing wave energy.  With the help of his adviser, Professor Dave Fredriksson, he constructed a model representation of a long line kelp farm and used it to conduct laboratory testing in the Naval Academy Hydro Lab's 120 foot tank.  Midshipman Reidel measured wave heights before and after the model to determine if energy is lost by comparing the incident and resultant wave heights.  The goal of the research is to prove the effectiveness of alternative living breakwater designs.  Midshipman Reidel is also demonstrating the effectiveness of modeling kelp using a synthetic material.

Measuring equipmentkelp tow tank

Pictures: Wave height measuring equipment and synthetic kelp lines in tow tank

kelp long linekelp on boat

Pictures: Farmed kelp in long lines in ocean


Midshipman First-Class Erik Derecktor is designing a hydrofoil-borne SailBot prototype.  The vessel will use wind power to lift the body out of the water using the same engineering principles as an airplane wing.  Hull construction requires gluing stringers to the sides of the hull to develop a fair (i.e. smooth) surface and strengthen the vessel.  After completion of the hull's body, appendages will be attached to include the hydrofoil, mast, sail, rudder, and electronic components.  This prototype could expand the SailBot Competition's speed regimes and revolutionize future SailBot designs.  This prototype will not be fully autonomous, as it is a foil and propulsion feasibility study.

hull stringershull

Pictures: Hull during attachment of stringers.  Midshipman Derecktor with formed hull.


Midshipman First-Class Jenna Westerberg is investigating ambient air and saltwater corrosion fatigue behavior of the stainless steel alloy HG10MNN, with the guidance of CDR Jeff Woertz.  The analysis attempts to evaluate the material's suitability for use in naval and marine applications.  HG10MNN is a newly developed stainless steel designed for improved resistance to mechanical and thermal fatigue.  This material’s increased elastic modulus and excellent castability make it a desirable candidate to eventually replace the Nickel-Aluminum-Bronze (NAB) currently used in many naval propulsion systems.  However, there is currently insufficient test or operational data regarding the durability of HG10MNN in a saltwater environment.  To date, this investigation has shown that in ambient air, HG10MNN exhibits asymptotic behavior beyond 108 cycles at a stress level of approximately 20 ksi.  In comparison, nominal NAB exhibits an ambient air fatigue strength of 30 ksi at 108 cycles.  Initial saltwater corrosion fatigue testing has shown that the fatigue life may be reduced by up to 75% at the same stress levels, suggesting that the material will require a surface treatment to improves it’s resistance to salt water attack.  Further testing and Yard Patrol (YP) Craft  HG10MNN propeller installations are planned to further assess this material’s operational viability.

fatigue labfatigue testingcorrosion sample

Pictures: Fatigue lab testing.  Corrosion specimen covered in biofoul from Severn River.


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