Wave Basin & Towing Tank

IIHR is a leader in ship hydrodynamics research, supported by state-of-the-art facilities including the wave basin and towing tank. Our wave basin, completed in 2010, is a clear-span facility for ship hydrodynamics research and related education. The facility’s 40x20x3-meter basin accommodates free-model testing in an open body of water for critical analysis of naval vessel maneuverability and seaworthiness. Research engineers test radio-controlled scale-model navy ships under a variety of real-life conditions, created by the basin’s six wavemakers. The free-moving models maneuver like real ships — straight ahead, zigzag, full circle, and even capsize.

Did You Know?

  • The IIHR wave basin features a custom eight-ton overhead carriage that tracks radio-controlled ships using indoor global positioning and two-camera vision, shadowing the vessels to within +/- 100 mm.
  • A 3D particle image velocimetry system measures fluid velocities around the ship models in the wave basin, facilitating the collection of detailed flow data.
  • IIHR’s wave basin is the first to include local flow measurement capabilities, critical for continued development of simulation-based design.
  • IIHR’s towing tank work focuses on seakeeping and maneuvering problems, as the traditionally separate areas of resistance and propulsion, seakeeping, and maneuvering continue to merge. In addition, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methods are increasingly able to handle more complex ship hydrodynamics problems.

Supporting Simulation-Based Design for Naval Ships

Aerial View of the wave basin

Wave Basin

The wave basin facility with its local flow measurement instruments can test ships under many different real-world conditions, measuring the water flow and wave patterns around the ship, including breaking waves, bubbly ship wake flows, unsteady hull surface pressure, and more.

A faculty researcher and student work together in the tow tank

Towing Tank

Located in the basement of C. Maxwell Stanley Hydraulics Lab, the IIHR towing tank has provided researchers with more than 50 years of experimental data. When noted researcher Lou Landweber joined IIHR in the mid-1950s, he helped build IIHR into one of the nation’s leading ship hydrodynamics research programs.

Naval Ship Hydrodynamics at IIHR

IIHR’s naval ship experimental and computational research, under the leadership of Fred Stern, remains at the forefront of national and international work in this area. Visit https://www2.iihr.uiowa.edu/shiphydro to learn more.