BMT unveils next gen hull-form for autonomous ops

BMT has released details of its next generation ‘Pentamaran’ platform for autonomous applications.


These vessels will be capable of performing commercial and defence missions including ISR, ASW and hydrographic surveying.

The Pentamaran design aims to reduce drag as much as possible.

BMT said that the tests have proven it offers significant improvements compared to mono-hulls, catamarans and trimaran.

The vessel features a very slender central hull and two smaller hulls or ‘sponsons’ on either side.

The sponsons are set one behind the other and when the vessel is operating on flat water, the forward sponsons stay on the surface, as they provide roll stability effect in waves only.

Compared to a trimaran there is less volume permanently immersed and therefore less resistance through the water, BMT explains.

Martin Bissuel, business sector lead for Specialised Ship Design at BMT said:

“For applications where fuel economy matters, the Pentamaran hull form is more efficient than conventional full forms, which means that using the same engines and the same amount of fuel, it will go further than any other, making it an ideal candidate for autonomous applications.”

Looking at it from a distance it may resemble a trimaran but that’s where the similarities end.

“The arrangement and careful positioning of the four sponsons makes all the difference.

“The forward sponsons stay above the water, and only come into action when the vessel rolls.

So, it doesn’t only reduce the drag, but it also improves the sea keeping characteristics.

“Compared to a trimaran hull form, lateral accelerations are lower, reducing g-loadings on the structure as well as the antennae and sensors on deck.

“The wide deck offers a large working area for multi-role capabilities. It can accommodate payloads or interface with other systems such as unmanned air vehicles.” expliained Bissuel.

A key consideration, when a vessel is operating autonomously for long periods of time, is the reliability of the propulsion setup which is essential to sustained operational readiness.

BMT engineers have therefore integrated multiple independent power sources to increase reliability as well as survivability.