Updated 18 October, 0938
The new Underwater Collision Research Facility (UCRF) has been officially unveiled at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston.
The UCRF is a joint initiative between Defence Science and Technology and the University of Tasmania.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the facility is a key part of the University of Tasmania’s Maritime Defence Innovation and Design Precinct.
“The Underwater Collision Research Facility is an exciting new development which will provide us with a better understanding of the impact of underwater collisions,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Researchers will look at ways of improving ship and submarine design which will keep our Navy crews safer by improving the safety of our submarines and autonomous underwater vehicles.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price congratulated Defence Science Technology and the University of Tasmania on their successful partnership in this project.
“The UCRF is an excellent example of the unique facilities developed at the Australian Maritime College,” Minister Price said.
“The facility provides an important maritime research capability in Tasmania and will work with researchers not only just here in Australia, but internationally as well.”
Under a Collaborative Research Agreement, Defence Science and Technology funded the purchase of equipment and the University provided the building capital works and support infrastructure to house the facility at its Newnham Campus.
At the centre of the UCRF is a large, drop-weight impact test machine that will smash custom designed and floodable scale models of vessel components and sections.
Facility manager and AMC project lead Roberto Ojeda said the UCRF would allow researchers to study the complex fluid-structure interactions at play in underwater collisions in controlled laboratory conditions.
“The presence of water changes the dynamics,” Dr Ojeda said. “And when you’re dealing with underwater vehicles, the water isn’t just around the vessel, it’s within it, which means, under impact, these structures behave very differently to structures colliding in dry environments.
“Understanding how structures respond to these events allows us to better assess risks and to mitigate them through design.”
DST lead collaborator, Bernard Phelps, added that in order for the technical risks involved in underwater collisions to be properly quantified, the assessment methods used must be validated to prove their suitability for use in such circumstances. The UCRF is a unique facility that will enable the essential empirical results, that are needed to provide this validation.