New world speed
records were set earlier this month in both men’s and women’s divisions of the International Submarine Races, an engineering design competition that challenges the creativity of underwater inventers and entrepreneurs.
One and two-person teams from the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands battled it out against the clock in the week-long biennial event held at one of the world’s largest indoor tanks -- the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock Division David Taylor Model Basin in Bethesda, Maryland.
Omer 5, a sleek two-person submersible from the University of Quebec’s Ecole de Technologie Superieure (ETS) in Montreal, Canada, set a new two-person speed record of 7.061 knots. The Canadians’ women’s team also set a new record of 5.885 knots.
The fastest high school speed mark was set by SubLime, a team from Spring Hill High School in Hernando County, FL, that clocked a run of 4.81 knots. A SubLime woman team member also claimed the record speed, 4.828 knots, in the one-person design category.
Judges awarded the top prize for the Best Overall Performance to a submarine called Wasub from the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands. Placing second for overall performance was FA-U Boat from Florida Atlantic University, and third was SubLime, the high school team from Spring Hill, FL.
The top Innovation Prize went to Virginia Tech’s Phantom 5. Finishing second and third were independent entrants Don Burton’s Sparky’s Sub and Bruce Plazyk’s Faux Fish. Florida Atlantic University also won the “Smooth Operator” award, a prize given to the team with the most consistent performance, successful troubleshooting and ability to race the course.
Some of the hottest competition during the week was between Omer 5 and the new team from the Technical University of Delft. The event ended with a first-time ever, two-boat side-by-side duel between the two, won by Wasub. The Dutch sub ran straight and true while the faster Omer 5 took a commanding three-boat-length lead, only to miss the final gate and be disqualified.
Both boats used computer-aided variable pitch propellers. Also the first time in ISR history, the event included a slalom course, in which submarines were required to maneuver through a set course of underwater pylons. The top three finishers were Wasub, Ol’ Sarge II and FA-U Boat.
In other awards, Umpty-Squatch II, the team from the Sussex, N.J., Technical High School, won the prize for Best Use of Composites. The judges said the team used composite technology to create “special contour and surface variations necessary to achieve their vehicle’s design requirements.”
An award chosen by the nearly 300 sub team participants, the Spirit of the Races Prize, went to the team from the Technical University of Delft.
Wasub’s 20-plus member team also won the prize for Best Design Outline. Teams must make a formal 20-minute technical presentation to ISR judges and submit a written outline of their design and construction program. This was the first year that TU Delft had competed. .
The SubLime high school team from Spring Hill, FL, was awarded the Judges’ Prize, given in respect for sponsors Steve and Patricia Barton’s many years of participation in the competition.
In the speed categories, here’s how they finished: two-person propeller academic, Omer 5, 7.061 knots; FA-U Boat, 6.100; Archimede 3, Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, 5.225. One person propeller, Wasub, 6.903; Ol’ Sarge II, Texas A&M, 5.382; and Sublime, 4.828. In the independent category, two teams from Wheaton, MD, Sub Works finished
tops in their class, Scuba Doo Two at 4.642 knots and Sub Taxi, 3.897. In the non-propeller category, the academic winner was Manatee from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The independent winner was Bruce Plazyk from Chicago.
This was the fifth staging of the event in the 3,200-foot-long David Taylor test tank at NSWC. The submarine race is a contest that began in 1989 and has grown to include the participation of universities, colleges, corporations, research centers, high schools and privately sponsored teams from the North America and Europe. Typical teams consist of student athlete/engineers, wearing scuba gear as the subs are “wet”, meaning filled with water. Team propulsors provide power and navigation as their subs run a 100-meer course against the clock along a fixed underwater course. The principal objective is education: encouraging creativity and innovation in the use of teamwork, planning, materials, hydrodynamic design, buoyancy, propulsion and underwater life support.
“The Naval Surface Warfare Center has been proud to host the 2005 International Submarine Races at its David Taylor Model Basin,” said Captain Charles D. Behrle, USN, Division Commander. “We were pleased to be able to once again support such an outstanding educational and engineering endeavor.” ISR Executive Director Nancy Hussey thanked the Navy. “Without the invaluable support of the Navy, none of this would be possible,” she said. “We are deeply grateful for their endorsement and technical assistance.” Mrs. Hussey also thanked Carderock officials, particularly ISR liaison chief Dan Dozier, who provided “countless hours of vital assistance in making the competition such a success.”