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July 25, 2019
SSI News

The UVic Submarine Racing Club (UVSRC) and Chinook II have just returned from the 15th International Submarine Races (ISR 15) held at the Carderock Naval Warfare Center in Washington D.C. This is the second competition the club has participated in. Last year, the team participated in the European International Submarine Races (eISR 2018) in Gosport, England. Building on last year’s concept, the UVSRC focused on improving ergonomics, adding autonomous control, and minimizing drag. These improvements were all made in an effort to maximize the top speed of their sub – the key attribute measured at the 2019 ISRs. 

Making Incremental Improvements 

UVic Sub Test

Clip-in pedals, crank length refinements, and a shoulder restraint system resulted in improvements to the power the human pilot could deliver. However, one of the biggest improvements this year’s team made was the through the addition of an autonomous depth regulation system. By no longer requiring the pilot to constantly adjust depth, they are able to focus more on generating peak power output. 

Hydrodynamic efficiency was improved through refinements to the steering system, control surfaces, and propeller design. Switching from a 6-blade to a 4-blade design netted some improvements, despite the need to develop stronger individual propeller blades.  

Notably, taking a page from nature’s playbook, the team’s inclusion of tubercles, the same nodules found on humpback whale fins, improved the efficiency of the control surfaces, resulting in smaller and lighter dive planes and rudders. 

At the Competition 

UVic sub in water

Having passed the dry and wet inspections, the team moved on to calibrating the submarine and rehearsing the safety protocol. With this completed, they were able to move towards completing their competition runs. The first run was a success, achieving a speed of 2.94 knots. In the five days of competition that followed, the team took part in 9 more runs, three of which were successful. The most successful run saw the team’s sub achieve a top speed of 3.84 knots. 

Unfortunately, Chinook II did not make it through the competition unscathed. During the team’s third run, the fastener which secures the rudder’s position detached, resulting in the submarine dramatically pulling right into the near wall. Despite damage to the sub’s dome, the team was able to make the necessary repairs and continue participating in the competition. 

Success at ISR 15 

190628 - West Bethesda, MD: NSWC Carderock Division hosted the 15th International Submarine Races (ISR) in its 3,200-foot David Taylor Model Basin in West Bethesda, Md., June 24-28. The biennial science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) event provides an avenue for high school and college teams to tackle the difficult challenges of submarine design, contruction and operation. U.S. Navy photo by Monica McCoy / RELEASED.

The team’s effort in implementing autonomous depth control, redesigning the steering system, and effectively adding tubercles to their control surfaces paid off. These technical achievements elevated the UVic team in the eyes of the judges who awarded them The American Systems Best Use of Technology Award. This prize is awarded to the team who exhibits the best and most successful use of technology to support their vessel’s design, construction, and performance. Taking home 5th place with an absolute speed of 3.84 knots also made the UVic team one of only two Canadian teams to place in the top 5.  

Eyes on Next Year 

We are so proud to have supported the UVic team this year throughout their journey to the International Submarine Races. It’s always an invaluable experience to connect with the young marine engineering minds in our industry. They have worked to overcome challenges and built on last year’s foundation. We can’t wait to see how this team evolves, grows, and improves next year on their journey to the 2020 European International Submarine Races. Congratulations from everyone here at SSI! 

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