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Is it possible to create a ship that won't sink/be destroyed by waves?

  1. May 12, 2010 #1
    Is it possible for a large ship, say 100 meters long at least, be sufficiently protected that the pressure exerted by any possible waves is not enough to rip the vessel apart? Would this require new structural materials such as the carbon group, because current materials would have to be too thick?

    Also, can a vessel be made that will always right itself as long as it's intact?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2010 #2


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    Yes - assuming you are prepared to pay enough and have little enough room for cargo.

    The difficulty isn't make a ship unsinkable, it's making a ship economic
  4. May 13, 2010 #3
    the difficulty is one of scale. wine bottles have made incredible voyages. I suspect that a one order of maginitude scale up might work. past this scale that material strength increases as a square while stresses vary as a cube. imagine a ship traveling at hull speed in in a fifty foot wave train. think of the structure a a bridge bridging the wave trough ; forces become impossibly large if any rigidity is to be retained. In fact larger ships do flex as do skyscrapers. the "edmund fitzgerald" ( a modern ore friegther that sank with cause in lake superior" shows what can happen to wit structural failure from exceeding the elastic limit of the structure.

    A string of "wine bottles" might have a chance. perhaps they could be made into a kind of raft pulled by tugboats fore and aft. very large log rafts have been hauled this way.
    each of the containers could be shipping individual containers
  5. May 13, 2010 #4
    What happens when the wine bottles hit rocks?
  6. May 13, 2010 #5


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    The OP didn't ask about rocks...
  7. May 20, 2010 #6
    Waves won't be an issue to any hermetically sealed and structurally durable design, the issue, as some people already pointed out is the potential solid objects the waves might hurl the ship into and thus destroying the hull integrity and sink it.

    You'd wanna make such design more flexible and less rigid, in order to distribute structural load better across the entire ship. If it's rigid, pressure from impacting waves will break it. If it is flexible it will absorb and distribute structural shock better.
  8. May 20, 2010 #7


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    In practice very few large ships are sunk by sea state, far more common is running aground, due to losing power or bad navigation, or a fire.
  9. May 20, 2010 #8
    Do submarines qualify?
  10. May 21, 2010 #9
    Submarines travel at depths where most waves have little effect.
    A surface ship would have to be very well sealed and flexible or stronger and heavier than would be cost efficient, but yes it could be done. (even with conventional materials)
    Anything is possible with enough money and proper engineering.
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