The MHL recently received a new model hull for fundamental research. This hull shape was created by the Office of Naval Research to allow academic and foreign institutes to conduct fundamental research on a Naval Combatant, and is loosely based on the Navy’s Zumwalt class destroyer. The hull shape is unique in that it is the first modern vessel to have the hull above the waterline curve back toward the center of the ship, known as tumblehome.
Tumblehome was quite common in naval ships up until the early 20th century, as the inward curvature encouraged projectiles to glance off of the vessel. The drawback to tumblehome is that it reduces the seakeeping characteristics of the vessel, as there is less buoyancy as the vessel rolls. As naval powering technology advanced and refueling stations spread across the world, naval vessels started plying the open ocean for longer periods of time, encountering larger and more dangerous waves. This coupled with the advances in naval ordinances which made virtually all armor susceptible to penetration, caused tumblehome to largely be viewed as a weakness.
The renewed interest in tumblehome comes from its inherent ability to deflect radar up and away from the source, thus vastly reducing the radar signature of the vessel. This makes detection and accurate identification of a naval vessel much harder.
The MHL’s new ONR Tumblehome model will be utilized in academic laboratory classes as well as cutting edge academic research. Stay tuned for more videos of the model being tested by the MHL staff and NAME students.