NPS researchers lay foundation for ultra-high speed Navy vessel

A futuristic vessel soars like an aircraft across the electric blue Pacific at more than 100 knots, carrying 25 exhilarated Sailors to a destination in the fraction of the time of any other boat in the fleet.

Of course this currently isn’t possible, however, researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School are working on the very early stages of making this vessel a reality, developing intricate models and simulations that would aid in the potential development of a Joint UItra High-Speed Vessel.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded NPS Department of Operations Research Associate Professor Dr. Johannes Royset, in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Brown University, a $2 million grant to develop the mathematical models that will be utilized in the early design phase of a possible JUHSV.

“DARPA is thinking many decades ahead, and that really allows us to go outside of conventional designs and think about something that will bring a lot of change,” said Royset. “Certainly we’re looking many decades into the future.”

That distant perspective means that researchers must lay a foundation for the decision-making process … This is done through intricate models that can be utilized as pre-decisional aids.

“Mathematical models are essential for developing a vessel of this type because we simply don’t know how a vessel of this type will behave,” said Royset. “This is so much beyond existing Navy architectural technology that we really need to simulate all different aspects of this ship, not only to simulate, but to make sure our simulations are correct.”

NPS student, U.S. Army Capt. John Sabol, has joined Royset, assisting with the modeling and simulation for his NPS degree thesis.

“We’re looking at how we can use existing mathematical equations and relationships to try and [limit] uncertainty in the most extreme cases,” said Sabol. “It’s a way to analyze the data we’re collecting and estimate what the worst case could be even though we haven’t seen it.”

The researchers say there are countless levels of uncertainty that need to be considered when it comes to the development of an ultra-high speed vessel. But through careful analysis, they can begin to understand critical factors that require more detailed modeling and simulation.

“We try to understand how such a vessel is going to behave, so that we can make decisions on which type of simulations to carry out,” Royset added. “That introduces an additional level of uncertainty about what and how we should learn about this vessel through simulations, and also through physical experiments. We need to account for all of these levels of uncertainty when we plan the design process, not just of the vessel, but of the whole process of design.”

With the Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels beginning to hit their stride, the services are examining the high-speed vessel at the next level, smaller and faster.

“The Marines and the Navy, Army included, have foreseen a need to operate at high speeds in littoral waters,” said Sabol. “Enhancing our expeditionary capabilities is pretty important to us.”

“It’s an interesting application of the research direction that Professor Royset and I are going,” Sabol continued. “We’re hoping that the results of our work can be extended well beyond the joint ultra-high speed vessel although this is a very interesting and relevant application of the work. If we can prove these methodologies are relevant and useful to the joint high-speed vessel, it would be great to show how they could be relevant to other projects in the future as well.”

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