"In building the M 80 Stiletto, we had to empirically predict the scalability of this technology through experimental testing on the water with prototype models and confidence in our practical experience. Currently there are no computer tools or mathematical models that would allow us to accurately predict how the M-hull would perform," said Chuck Robinson, co-founder of San Diego-based M Ship Co. and a former deputy secretary of state with Henry Kissinger. "This contract will enable us to develop those tools and explore different applications of the M-hull."
The Navy SBIR contract announced today represents phase II of research into the M-hull. Phase I of the study, conducted in 2003 and 2004, studied the hydrodynamic phenomena of the M-hull as a captured air plenum design, investigated performance prediction methods and evaluated its potential as a future Naval ship concept, with the Stiletto being one variant of the concept.
The proprietary M-hull technology has demonstrated the ability to transcend the limitations of conventional hull form categories. The hull geometry and the captured air plenums allow the ship to automatically and naturally seek the most efficient form of lift-displacement, hydrodynamic, and aerodynamic -- depending on speed, payload and sea condition.
In initial testing, the M 80 Stiletto has achieved speeds over 50 knots while maintaining an exceptionally smooth ride quality. The vessel's shallow draft also enables it to operate in littoral, or shallow-water regions, an area of particular focus for the Navy. The M 80 Stiletto marks a breakthrough in naval architecture and provides a stable yet fast platform for mounting electronic surveillance equipment or weapons, or for conducting special operations.
"The challenge now is to develop tools to quantify the potential of the M-hull and other captured air hulls and explore the full potential of the design for a broad range of defense and commercial applications, such as fast ferries and cargo ships," said Bill Burns, project leader and co-founder of M Ship Co. In this effort, M Ship Co. has put together a team of experienced leaders from the Navy (Carderock), Academia (Cal State University Long Beach & Stevens Institute of Technology), and Industry (BMT/SMS) to understand the broad potential of this technology.