Research facilitation and management for Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore industry

Numerical and Experimental Modeling of Dynamic Positioning Propellers for Offshore System

Lead PI: Dr. Pengfei Lui
Subject Category: Other

Start Date: Apr 2003
End Date: Mar 2005
Institution / Organization:NRC

In the 1970s, Howard Hughes used a scientific project to search for deep sea manganese nodules as a CIA cover for a mission to raise a Soviet nuclear submarine that had sunk in the Pacific, resting on the ocean floor nearly 5,200 m down.  To accomplish this mission, Hughes designed and built the Glomar Explorer, the most advanced ship of its kind, outfitted with a revolutionary new system for staying on location at sea called Dynamic Positioning (DP).

This groundbreaking new technology allowed industry to begin exploring for oil in deeper and deeper water using drillships, rather than custom-built fixed offshore platforms.   Today DP systems are used in an ever-increasing range of offshore working vessels.

When DP thrusters are operating, they create a powerful water jet and a full understanding of the water forces (hydrodynamics) involved is needed to complete a design and for predicting performance at sea, under working conditions.  At the Institute for Marine Dynamics (IMD) and Memorial University of Newfoundland, Dr. Pengfei Liu and Dr. Neil Bose completed a Petroleum Research funded project to develop a computerized thruster simulation model. 

The research findings have drawn a wide interest from the offshore petroleum industry, foreign national laboratories and the defence sector.  As a result, this computer model will be used as an important tool for new thruster design and for evaluation of the performance of thrusters under a variety of work conditions, from predicting momentum impact on pipelines & cables to keeping large ships at precise positions for offshore operations.


  • Final Report [PDF]

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