Fri, Sep 27, 2002 - Page 4 News List

University unveils naval test facility

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A local university has completed the installation of a world-class test facility for large-scale models of surface ships and submarines, which the university says could be of much help to the navy.

The test facility, called the Large Cavitation Tunnel (LCT), is the third largest of its kind in the world. Completed earlier this year, it sits in the Keelung-based National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU). It cost nearly NT$400 million to build and took more than three years to complete.

The university made a detailed introduction to the functions and capabilities of the LCT on Wednesday at the Tenth National Conference on Naval Ship Engineering hosted by the Chung-Cheng Institute of Technology of the military.

Dr. Ke Yung-tse (柯永澤), who is in charge of the LCT program, said at the conference that the university spent so much money to build a world-class LCT mainly for the benefit of the navy.

"Commercial ship designs do not need to be tested in the LCT. Only military ships will need tests in the LCT, since they must not produce much noise while in operation," Ke said.

The LCT tests are aimed at finding out -- using a one-tenth scale model of a surface ship or submarine design -- the noise level which would be produced by the vessel's propeller or the vortex which would be caused by the hull design of the vessel.

"If the navy is not interested in using the university's LCT for the design of a submarine, it could consider applying it to find out the noise levels or other relevant facts about surface ships already in service," Ke said.

"The domestically-built Cheng Kung-class frigate, for instance, has been short of such data since the design phase. It is really necessary for the navy to start building a data bank for the Cheng Kung-class frigate regarding facts such as the noises that the ship produces during operation," he said.

The university's installation of a world-class LCT marks part of the efforts being made by academic institutions to comply with the government's policy of developing a self-reliant defense industry.

Besides NTOU, the National Taiwan University and National Chen Kung University have also built similar but lower-end test facilities, which the navy could use in its ship-building efforts.

But these efforts might not be appreciated by defense contractors, who prefer to buy mature technologies from abroad rather than domestically-developed ones that need to take time to become reliable.

The state-run China Shipbuilding Corp. (CSBC), which has been bidding to participate in the construction of part of the eight diesel-powered submarines that the US has promised to get for Taiwan, does not think the university's LCT will be of any help to its submarine building project.

A spokesman for the CSBC said the company does not want to start from scratch, since it does not have much time.

"We are now trying to import existing submarine designs from abroad so as to be able to get into the business as early as possible," the company spokesman said.

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