Flying ships

Contemporary vessels are regarded as floating power plants because of the propulsion needed to overcome the friction and drag between the hull and seawater.[1] Forcing a layer of air between the ship’s hull and the water will effectively make the ship “fly” through the water.[2]

Powerboats, racing boats and navy vessels have been using air lubrication systems for decades.[3] Air lubrication systems fitted to contemporary vessels have demonstrated to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 15%.[2] However, redesign of hulls and propulsion systems are needed to make large vessels fit for “flight.”[2]

When will it become accepted practice that ocean-going vessels' hulls and propulsion systems are designed for air lubrication?

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[1] Sinha T. (2019), Various Methods Used to Minimise Resistance on Ship’s Hull
[2] Raunek (2019), How Air Lubrication System for Ships Works?
[3] SSPA (2020), Hull air lubrication: future and challenges
More information:
Smooth (2019), Sustainable Methods for Optimal Design and Operation of Ships with Air Lubricated Hulls
European Maritime Safety Agency (2020) Greenhouse Gases
IMO (2020), Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships
Winkel, R., van den Bos, A., and U. Weddige (2015), Study on energy efficiency technologies for ships


By Matthew J. Spaniol