Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project

First Advisor

Bahram Nassersharif


After interest was shown by the Department of Defense in the architecture and enabling technologies for a persistent, scalable, agile, open, interoperable and coordinated undersea energy, data, command, control and communications distribution network for logistics support of unmanned vehicles and sensors; the graduating class of 2019 were given the opportunity to work with sponsors NUWC and Powerdocks LLC to conduct an “Inflatable Vessel Design Study”. The study consists of a variety of designs based on parameters and objectives provided by NUWC and Powerdocks. The goal of the study was to have students design concept vessels for their numerous applications based on their specifications. Some of these objectives the sponsors were looking for included an inflatable vessel capable of navigating at sea-state 3-5 and be able to carry a load of 100 lbs. Additionally, the vessel needs to have the ability to maneuver at a 6 knot hull speed and feature puncture resistance. Other features of the vessel include ensuring optimal vessel dimensions and considerations surrounding draft to minimize overall size. Per PowerDocks, the vessel also must accommodate space for their “Black Box” (which is to act as a brain for the vessel attachments) that will be which will be placed on the vessel’s featured flat deck. The process in efforts to complete this design study began with initial research of possible related patents and any literature that may have provided ideas and concepts to provide a sound base for the study. Subsequently, concept generation was the next step in the process where each member brainstormed and provided ideas to solve the problem given. Various concepts were produced and the most feasible were chosen and used for further study. Presentations were given to the class, professor and sponsors on progress as well as proof of concept at two different intervals of the semester. Substantial engineering analysis was completed for each of the selected concepts and basic material testing has begun. Throughout the design process the progression of the team and management was collected in a Gantt chart and weekly progress reports were completed and submitted to the professors and sponsors. Two meetings with team 19’s sponsor also took place off-campus for additional information gathering, guiacance, and touring. At the beginning of the Spring Semester, the realization of the entire project took place as material testing (environmental, tensile and puncture).After tensile testing it was deduced that PVC was the most feasible material to have the vessel made from. One final model was conceptualized from the initial four designs and was altered as the semester progressed. Once the final model was complete; the final engineering analysis on the updated design was calculated. It was realized that the vessel would be approximately three times more buoyant than necessary which would be an added bonus to ensure its maneuverability in the water. Within the final model, some adjustments were made like the addition of ABS flooring to help with the rigidity of the vessel, the flat deck requirements and the inflation. Folding patterns were conceptualized as the semester ended as it was a requirement but as there was no prototype, this could not be demonstrated physically. Preparation for the build and test review commenced with three weeks left in the second semester of the project. Sponsors NUWC and Powerdocks attended the presentation and gave great support and appreciation of the overall progress that was made with the project. Both were extremely impressed with the dedication and perseverance the entire team showed in reaching the end goal. Finally, steps were taken to ensure the project was documented in its entirety in a formal report and all engineering journals and engineering binder updated. Further work would include attempts at getting a scaled prototype manufactured to test in NUWC’s wave pool facilities as well as getting quotes from companies on locally and possibly globally on manufacturing these vessels on a large scale to provide to all maring ports in the US and outside.


Sponsors: Naval Undersea Warfare Center, PowerDocs LLC

Sponsor Representative: Peter Hardro (NUWC), Anthony Baro (PowerDocs LLC)