A Zonal CFD Approach for Fully Nonlinear Simulations of Two Vessels in Launch and Recovery Operations

Lead Research Organisation: Manchester Metropolitan University
Department Name: Sch of Computing, Maths and Digital Tech


Launch and recovery of small vehicles from a large vessel is a common operation in maritime sectors, such as launching and recovering unmanned underwater vehicles from a patrol of research vessel or launching and recovering lifeboats from offshore platforms or ships. Such operations are often performed in harsh sea conditions. The recent User Inspired Academic Challenge Workshop on Maritime Launch and Recovery, held in July 2014 and coordinated by BAE systems, identified various challenges associated with safe launch and recovery of off-board, surface and sub-surface assets from vessels while underway in severe sea conditions. One of them is the lack of an accurate and efficient modelling tool for predicting the hydrodynamic loads on and the motion of two floating bodies, such as vessels of different size which may be coupled by a non-rigid link, in close proximity in harsh seas. Such a tool may be employed to minimise the risk of collisions and unacceptable motions, and to facilitate early testing of new concepts and systems. It may also be used to estimate hydrodynamic loads during the deployment of a smaller vessel (for example, a lifeboat) and during recovery of a smaller vessel from the deck of a larger vessel. The difficulties associated with development of such tools lie in the following aspects: (1) the water waves in harsh sea states have to be simulated; (2) the motion of the small vehicle and change in its wetted surface during launch or recovery can be very large, possibly moving from totally dry in air to becoming entirely submerged; (3) the viscous effects may play an important role and cannot be ignored, and will affect the coupling between ocean waves and motion of the vehicles. Existing methods and tools available to the industry cannot deal with all of these issues together and typically require very high computational resources.

This project will develop an accurate and efficient numerical model that can be applied routinely for the analysis of the motion and loadings of two bodies in close proximity with or without physical connection in high sea-states, which of course can be employed to analyse the launch and recovery process of a small vehicle from a large vessel and to calculate the hydrodynamics during the process. This will be achieved building upon the recent developed numerical methods and computer codes by the project partners and also the success of the past and ongoing collaborative work between them. In addition, the project will involve several industrial partners to ensure the delivery of the project and to promote impact.


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Martínez-Ferrer P (2018) Numerical Simulation of Wave Slamming on a Flap-Type Oscillating Wave Energy Device in International Journal of Offshore and Polar Engineering

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Ransley E (2019) A Blind Comparative Study of Focused Wave Interactions with a Fixed FPSO-like Structure (CCP-WSI Blind Test Series 1) in International Journal of Offshore and Polar Engineering

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Chen H (2020) CFD Simulation of Wave Energy Converters in Focused Wave Groups Using Overset Mesh in International Journal of Offshore and Polar Engineering

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Lin Z (2021) Simulating focused wave impacts on point absorber wave energy converters in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering and Computational Mechanics

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Martínez Ferrer P.J. (2017) Modelling wave interaction with deformable structures based on a multi-region approach within OpenFOAM in Proceedings of the International Offshore and Polar Engineering Conference

Description A new CFD code based on the overset meshing technique has been developed and applied to study the interaction between two boat of different sizes under high sea states.
Exploitation Route The findings from the study could be used by the relevant industry for an improved design of products and safer operations.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy

Description BAE Systems 
Organisation BAE Systems
Department BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Developing CFD codes for modeling hydrodynamics during marine launch and recovery operations.
Collaborator Contribution Providing data for the geometry and dimensions of the vessels to be used in the modeling work.
Impact None at the moment.
Start Year 2015