GEAR | University of Strathclyde to trial new U-shaped rudder

Photo: Kamome Propeller
Photo: Kamome Propeller

A new type of ship's rudder system designed by researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland will be demonstrated as part of a €6 million (US$7.3 million) EU-funded research project.

The rudder will be retrofitted to an existing commercial vessel as part of the trials program.

The designers said that the U-shaped gate rudder – essentially two separate rudders – sits astride the propeller unlike a traditional rudder, which sits behind a ship's propellers to steer the vessel. As a result, the rudder acts like a nozzle around the propeller and generates additional thrust.

Both rudders can be independently controlled to provide additional steering as well as enable the vessel to "crab" sideways, such as during docking.

Early trials revealed the rudder's fuel-saving potential of 15 per cent in calm waters. The researchers said this can be as high as 30 per cent in rough seas.

The new rudder is also quieter than a traditional rudder system, reduces hull wake, and can help to protect the propeller from damage, which the design team said is particularly beneficial in sensitive environments such as the Arctic.

The project brings together 18 technology experts and prime stakeholders, including the patent holder, Dr Noriyuki Sasaki, who is a visiting professor in the University of Strathclyde's Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (NAOME), to demonstrate and exploit the benefits of this system.

The researchers will use data gathered from the sea trials to demonstrate for the first time whether the system can be applied to an existing 90-metre coastal cargo ship as a retrofit and to explore its applications for other oceangoing vessel types and sizes.

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Baird Maritime / Work Boat World