• Design
        • The most significant opportunities to impact the cost of building and operating a ship are found in the design and engineering phase.

          Initial Design  |  Basic Design  |  Detailed Design

        • Build
        • Even a smaller shipbuilding project is immense in scope and scale. Manage the challenges that are unique to ship construction.

          Prepare  |  Fabricate  |  Assemble

        • Maintain
        • With the majority of a ship’s life taking place after it’s been built, it’s crucial to ensure that the organization has a clear picture of the vessel at all times.

          Digital Twin  |  Repair / Refit  |  Operations

        • Nexus
        • SSI Nexus is the place where users, creators, & implementers of SSI software get together. Here they discuss best practices & industry trends, tackle common challenges, gain access to the latest software, and provide input into the future of the products that bring them together.

        • MyLearning
        • SSI MyLearning is where SSI users can access detailed training exercises, materials, courses, and certifications. The self-directed training curriculum ensures that training happens on your schedule and when you need it most.

        • SSI Blogs
        • The SSI blog is your place to get insights into the intersection of shipbuilding and technology, how our industry is moving forward, and keep up with SSI news. It’s the only place to read the latest from Denis Morais and Darren Larkins, SSI’s co-CEOs.

          Lighthouse Waveform  |  Shipbuilding Solutions

        • ShipConstructor
        • Engineering information is a shipbuilder’s most important asset. Getting that information to fit your business means using a solution that is built to handle shipbuilding’s unique challenges and information requirements throughout each stage of a vessel’s lifecycle.

        • EnterprisePlatform
        • Every process in a shipyard requires data. Seamlessly sharing that data across tools in the correct format needed allows for meaningful, actionable information to be consumed throughout the organization. Providing the freedom to choose the tailored tools required for a shipbuilding project.

        • ShipbuildingPLM
        • ShipbuildingPLM is the only product lifecycle management (PLM) platform that is specifically built for the business of shipbuilding. It allows your shipyard to manage and organize information, understand change, build a foundation for digital innovation, and support MRO activities – without the risks and costs of traditional PLM implementations.

        • Company
        • Learn more about SSI and our leadership.

        • Locations & Contact
        • You need a partner with a global presence.

        • News
        • The latest on SSI and shipbuilding.

        • Events
        • Join us at our next event, conference, or trade show.

        • Partners
        • Learn more about our Platform and Development Partners.

        • Clients
        • See the industry leaders who trust SSI.

        • Careers
        • Help us make the business of shipbuilding possible.

July 31, 2018
SSI LearningSSI NewsTraining

It is interesting to note how and why certain design decision were made regarding their design of the pedal-powered single person submarine named Chinook. The following is adapted from a report from the UVic Submarine Racing Club:

This is the second post of the series about SSI’s cooperation with the UVic Submarine Racing Club. Previous post: “More Engineers Needed: SSI Responds” Next Post: “SSI Schools Student Submarine Racers

Hull Design

Picture of the hull of the submarine designed in ShipConstructor

A key decision was made regarding the material: the hull was made of fiberglass instead of carbon fiber because the weight of the submarine is fixed based on displacement, i.e. any weight saved from using carbon fiber would just translate to less foam used to achieve neutral buoyancy.

For safety, the hull seam was on a horizontal plane rather than vertical so that the entire forward section could double as an escape hatch. Mounting points for internal structure were placed on the hull to allow components to be easily removed. Finally, to save money on transportation to the competition in England, the hull was split into 4 sections so that it could fit into luggage on an over-sized piece of luggage on a plane. Clever.

Propulsion System Design

Sub Design Propulsion System

As noted, the propulsion of the sub would be pedal powered. In order to accommodate a wide variety of potential drivers, the club used an adjustable shoulder brace so that they could choose the driver with the best overall performance during testing, rather than the smallest person who could fit.

The aluminum support system was made so that it could be tested outside the sub and the gearbox was also designed to be optimized during testing based on efficiency calculations and power requirements.

Also, to help overall efficiency, the design implemented a Kort nozzle propulsion system that eliminated the vortexes forming at the tip of the blades and redirected the flow of fluid to a concentrated direction. This allowed a rudder to be implemented after the propeller blades.

Kort Nozzle Rendering

Steering Control System

Steering and Control Unit Forward

Since the rudder was placed behind the propeller blade, it allowed the sub to attain a higher “turning moment” due to lifting forces of the rudder being farther away from the center of gravity. Steering was also improved due to the Kort Nozzle because it produced a more uniform mass flow to the rudder. Spaded design diving planes were chosen to reduce drag forces.

But besides all these technical details, you might be wondering how the sub is actually steered and controlled. The answer is that it is controlled by with a handlebar attached by cables to the rudder and dive planes. The drive steers with a side to side motion. With a rotating throttling motion on the handle bar (like a motorcycle), the driver controls the dive planes.

Stability-Buoyancy System

Divers in the pool with sub testing stability

The sub has air diaphragms throughout its length. PVC foam pockets create positive buoyancy and are counterweights to create a low center of gravity. Interestingly, the team implemented a buoyancy compensating device (BCD) because they learned that it is common during the race for submarines to lose weight as air is released from the air tanks. A BCD was designed to ensure level race completion by accounting for the change in mass.

Safety Release System

Submarine Safety Release

Finally, since safety could not be overlooked, as per the competition rules, the sub has a high visibility surface maker buoy which can be released by the pilot to signal if help is required. If things are really serious, using a “dead man’s switch” in the form of a clutch, the safety buoy is released automatically if the pilot is incapacitated and unable to squeeze the clutch handle.


As you can see, despite never having been part of this competition, the UVic team put a lot of thought into the design of their submarine Chinook. SSI is happy to have been a part of this project.


Don't Miss These Shipbuilding Strategies

Subscribe to the Shipbuilding Solutions blog and get actionable strategies and best practices from industry experts.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.