A well-known marine design consultancy has launched what it claims to be the next generation hull-form for autonomous operations, the ‘Pentamaran’.

Designed to meet the specific challenges of long range autonomous operations, this five hulled design has been optimised by BMT to reduce fuel consumption and increase its adaptability across multiple applications

The hull form has been designed to reduce drag as much as possible and tests have proven it offers significant improvements compared to conventional hull forms such as mono-hulls, catamarans and trimarans.

The vessel features a very slender central hull and two smaller hulls or ‘sponsons’ on either side. The sponsons are set one behind the other and when the vessel is operating on flat water, the forward sponsons do not touch the water, as they provide roll stability effect in waves only. Compared to a trimaran there is less volume permanently immersed and therefore less resistance through the water.

Martin Bissuel, Business Sector Lead for Specialised Ship Design at BMT comments, “Our team have carried out extensive work on this. The data gathered through extensive towing tank testing is very compelling. For applications where fuel economy matters, the Pentamaran hull form is more efficient than conventional full forms, which means that using the same engines and the same amount of fuel, it will go further than any other, making it an ideal candidate for autonomous applications. Looking at it from a distance it may resemble a trimaran but that’s where the similarities end.

“Compared to a trimaran hull form, lateral accelerations are lower, reducing g-loadings on the structure as well as the antennae and sensors on deck. The wide deck offers a large working area for multi-role capabilities. It can accommodate payloads or interface with other systems such as unmanned air vehicles.” added Mr Bissuel.

A key consideration, when a vessel is operating autonomously for long periods of time, is the reliability of the propulsion setup which is essential to sustained operational readiness. Our engineers have therefore integrated multiple independent power sources to increase reliability as well as survivability.

The design has been put forward by BMT as ‘offering a myriad of applications for defence and commercial innovators’. The design can be custom configured for military, patrol, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and hydrographic survey work.

By Jake Frith

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