by Bijit Sarkar, Naval Architect
The eternal search of a naval architect – a perfect bow. Sadly, it never exists. Different bow forms are good for different types, sizes of vessels and seaways.
What does a naval architect want out of the bow he designs?
The history of the bulbous bow
I do think that after Archimedes’ Principle, the concept of bulbous bow is the first really great thing that happened in naval architecture. All the while naval architects were tuning their designs here and there – angle of entrance, a finer shape, avoiding that shoulder and hoping for a 2% shaving off the resistance when the concept of bulbous bow gave it a quantum leap, saving a whopping 5-8%, albeit for a specific Froude number range.
The first ship designed with a bulbous bow was a German ocean – liner called SS Bremen , owned by Norddeutscher Lloyd Line . She, and her sister ship SS Europa (Later SS Liberte’) had high speed steam turbine engines and a stream lined profiles and started plied the transatlantic sea route in the late 1920s. These two ships were national symbols of pride for Germany for pre-war years of 1930s. She held the prestigious Blue Riband, an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liners in the Transatlantic route of that era with the record highest (average) speed.
Source : Wikipedia
The Americans followed soon with SS President hoover and SS President Coolidge in 1931, although their bulbs were considered to be experimental, by both owners and shipyards
Source : Wikipedia
Vladimir Yukevich working on the design of SS Normandie
SS Normandie , designed by Vladimir Yukevich, had a superbly designed hull with a massive bulb at the bow, resulting in a clean entry into the water flow and a highly reduced bow wave. This reduced the wave resistance considerably, allowing it to attain a trial speed of 32.2 knots
Normandie’s arch rival in the ocean passage trade, RMS Queen Mary, was of similar dimension and achieved speed of 32.84 knots at trial.
However, here are the comparison of their main Propulsions, showing that Queen Mary needed 30% more power .
|British ocean liner built by John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland||French ocean liner built in Saint-Nazaire, France|
Source : Wikipedia
Different bulb shapes in use
|DIFFERENT BULB SHAPES|
Pear Shaped Bulb
Most common form today
“U” shaped hulls
Large variations of draught
Wave piercing bow
|“U” or “V” shaped hulls|
“V” shaped hulls
Clearly defined loaded and ballasted draughts
|More susceptible to slamming||Less susceptible to slamming||Less susceptible to slamming|
The X-bow: a modern innovation
|Source : Ulstein website|
The first ship with X-bow design is MV Bourbon Orca, anchor handling tug supply vessel (AHTS) built for Bourbon Offshore Norway, the Norwegian division of the French Groupe Bourbon.by Ulstein (2006).
She was awarded Ship of the Year 2006, both by Skipsrevyen and Offshore Support Journal. In 2007, the Bourbon Orca design model was included in the London Science Museum’s display of innovative technology. The vessel’s operator claims that the design achieves higher speed and a calmer motion in head, rough seas.
As an extension of the bulb from, Ulstein came out with the concept of X-bow in the year 2005 and the first ship was commissioned in 2006 .
The bow, by incorporating a large forebody coming right out of water and sloping aft right to level of a high first exposed deck, causes a different volume distribution with a tapered fore ship shape as well as sectional angles, resulting in a wave piercing effect at small wave heights, and also reduces pitching and bow impact loads in rougher seas with bigger waves.
Major benefits of the X-BOW , as per Ulstein, are as follows
- Improved power efficiency
- Soft entry in waves
- Very low levels of noise and vibrations
- Reduced bow impact and slamming
- Reduced wave-induced vibrations
- Improved resting time
- Lower acceleration levels
- Lower pitch response due to volume
- More comfortable on board conditions
- Lower speed loss
- Reduced spray
However, X-bow is more suitable for bigger vessels in rough seas. Because of the shape, the spray runs up the hull and hence to avoid the spray hitting your bridge window, the same has to be high. A small vessel may not have those many decks and will naturally have problems. The windage area increases and also the risk of plunging deep into the sea. For a conventional bow, as she plunges deep into the sea, the displaced volume increases, increasing the momentum to reduce pitching motion and acceleration. In case of a ship with X-bow, it is the opposite.
Parameters affecting the design of a bulbous bow
A bulbous bow is defined by the following parameters, which are also shown in the diagram below.
|BB||=||MAX WIDTH OF BULB|
|LPR||=||LENGTH OF BULB MEASURED FROM FP|
|ZB||=||HT. OF TIP OF BULB FROM BASELINE|
|ABT||=||TRANS. SECTION AREA AT F.P|
|ABL||=||LONG. SECTION AREA OF BULB AT CENTRELINE|
|VPR||=||VOLUME OF BULB FROM F.P TO TIP|
Below are the linear and non-linear form co-efficients from which the bulb parameters are derived
|CBB||BREADTH CO-EFFN||BB/B||CABT||CROSS SECTION CO-EFFN||ABT/AMS|
|CLPR||LENGTH CO-EFFN||LPR/LPP||CABL||LONG SECTION CO-EFFN||ABL/AMS|
|CZB||HEIGHT CO-EFFN||ZB/TFP||C∇PR||VOLUMETRIC CO-EFFN||VPR/∇|
B = BREADTH OF SHIP
BB = BULB BREADTH AT FP
LPP = LENGTH BTWEEN PERPENDICULARS
LPR = PORTRUDING LENGTH OF BULB
TFP = DRAFT AT FORWARD PERPENDICULAR
ABT = CROSS SECTIONAL AREA AT F.P
AMS = MIDSHIP AREA
ABL = LONG. CROSS SECTIONAL AREA FORD OF F.P
VPR = VOLUME OF BULB FORD OF F.P
|TYPICAL RANGE OF CO-EFFICIENTS ( KRACHT , 1970)|
How does the bulb work?
As one can see in the diagram, a conventional bow creates a bow wave. That means a high pressure zone – much like as if the ship is pushing against a pileup of water. The energy going into this shows up as bigger waves and goes to contribute to wave resistance.
In contrast, the bulb due to its forward motion is pushing the water sideways and up , creating a crest ahead of the ship , with the trough occurring aft of hull entry, which necessarily means reducing the pressure on the hull, resulting in lower wave resistance. The higher the speed within that Froude number range , the more is the effect of the bulb
Apart from reducing the resistance at the specific Froude number range (>0.238 and < 0.563) , the effect on sea-keeping characteristics are also important. Bulbs typically are v-shaped on the bottom to minimize slamming in rough seas. The large volume so far ahead of the ship produces extra buoyancy and a high moment that counteracts pitching motion.
The following diagram is a quick selection help for selection of the type of hull and within that the zone of applicability for the bulb. The diagram is qualitative and designers should use their own discretion.
CFD analysis of ships with bulbous bow
Now that Naval architects have huge computing power at their disposal and with the advancement of technology in the area of computational numerical methods, the quality of ship design has advanced and refined.
While I still rank a model test to be a far more reliable tool to estimate the resistance of the ship, Iterative CFD analysis with continuous changes in the hull form can result in a far better hull form to begin the model test. To change the model a number of times physically is a time consuming and costly affair and CFD can make the process faster, better and more economic. Bearing in mind that most of this work has to be done at a pre-bid state, where a return is not always assured, CFD is definitely a useful tool .
- Design Optimization of the Lines of the Bulbous Bow of a Hull Based on Parametric Modeling and Computational Fluid Dynamics Calculation
- Weilin Luo i,ii and Linqiang Lan ii
- School of Mechanical Engineering and Automation, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou 350116, China;
- Fujian Province Key Laboratory of Structural Performances in Ship and Ocean Engineering,
- Fuzhou 350116, China
- Design & Construction of Bulbous Bow
- Manuel Ventura
- Website – Ulstein
- Design Principles of Ships and Marine Structures – Prof. S.C.Mishra
- Basic Ship Propulsion – Prof. J.P.Ghose & Prof. R.P.Gokarn
The views, information, or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of TheNavalArch Pte Ltd and its employees
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