The U.S. Navy's David Taylor Model Basin provided the setting for the sixth running of the International Human-Powered Submarine Races (ISR), a biennial engineering design competition, held June 11-15 at the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Carderock Division in Bethesda, Md.
This was the third time the event was staged in the 3,000-ft. test tank. The races are a challenge that began in 1989 and have grown to an event that has seen the participation of universities, high schools, corporations, and privately sponsored teams from the U.S., Canada
and Mexico. Typical teams consist of student athlete-engineers in scuba gear, propelling and steering as the sub races the clock along a measured underwater course. The competition focuses upon the educational aspects of submarine team efforts, focusing on use of materials, hydrodynamic efficiency. During the last event here in 1997, Team OMER, from University of Quebec, Montreal, Canada, shattered the world speed record with an 8-mile per hour performance from its sleek "Omer 3" one-man submarine. That race also saw the first all-female teams compete.
The ISR events, including technical seminars for aspiring teams, are part of an all-volunteer effort including senior Navy personnel, individuals from major corporations, research centers and other interested companies and organizations. Judging is based on a combination of team ratings in innovation, speed, design and best use of materials.
The Navy hydrodynamic
facility is the world's largest test center for a wide variety of experimental requirements. The David Taylor Model Basin houses deep, shallow and high-speed tanks. The human-powered submarine competition takes place in a 2,000 ft. length of the 22-ft. deep tank, ample room for testing speed, hydrodynamics, propulsion and other innovations.