Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Flying deaf...

An underwater bullet-train doing 115 mph.

Currently, the Navy's fastest submarine can only travel at 25 to 30 knots while submerged. But if everything goes according to plan, the Underwater Express will speed along at 100 knots, allowing the delivery of men and materiel faster than ever.
The DARPA program, first announced in 2006, has finally reached the testing phase. Electric Boat, the company contracted to design the Underwater Express, is producing a quarter-scale model of the speedy sub, to be tested next year off the coast of Rhode Island.
The sub utilizes the phenomenon known as supercavitation. Supercavitation is the process wherein an object moves so fast through the water that it creates a gas bubble around itself, nearly eliminating drag. Unencumbered by the high drag of water, the object is free to speed along at much higher speeds than otherwise possible. Supercavitation has been known since the end of World War Two, and the Soviets succeeded in creating a torpedo that utilizes supercavitation for high-speed travel, but so far no one has succeeded in scaling the effect up to the size of a whole submarine. [More]

I'm sure the sonar has improved in the last 4 decades, but I'll bet this thing is not just zipping through the water blind, but deaf.  OK when deep, I guess, but I wonder what happens if you hit a whale at that speed?

Is it the underwater equivalent of a deer?

[via sullivan]


Ol James said...

..more like a D-9 Caterpillar.

Anonymous said...

I would think it would be very easy to track as well. All of that caviation must make a lot of noise...

Anonymous said...

Well, duh, all the air bags go off and the coast guard comes to clean up the whale. You file a claim with Geico and they get you a loaner sub from the Russians.