The unsteady propeller forces of an underwater vehicle were numerically simulated using computational fluid dynamics to investigate the effects of the axial location of the stern planes. A benchmark study was undertaken using a three-bladed propeller; experimental results of the nominal inflow wake profile were analyzed and the unsteady propeller forces were measured. The numerical method was applied to predict the unsteady propeller forces in the SUBOFF model’s wake by varying the axial locations of the stern planes. Several remarks were made on the primary harmonics of the hull’s wakes and blade-rate propeller forces.


The hydroacoustic noise, which matches multiples of the number of propeller blades and its rotational speed, known as “blade-rate (BR) noise,” has been increasingly used to manage hydroacoustics for naval vessels. BR noise can be caused by alternating blade loads owing to fluctuations in the angle of attack of the blades because marine propellers are operated in the nonuniform wake of ships’ hulls. The unsteady blade load produces unsteady propeller forces that are transmitted via the propeller shaft and bearing, thus producing undesirable vibration and noise. Although the resultant BR noise is a common issue for marine vessels, in particular, submarines and other underwater vehicles deployed for undersea defense systems and oceanographic survey systems require strict specifications for the acoustic signature. Therefore, the unsteady propeller forces must be improved for reduced detectability, because the vehicles should be able to operate without being discovered while sonar detection technology continues to improve.

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