Stern-ramp deployment of small boats is an essential feature of all new U.S. Coast Guard cutters. The first new cutter to enter service equipped with a stern-ramp is the USCGC BERTHOLF, the lead Maritime Security Cutter Large (WMSL). During the summer of 2009 a series of sea trials was completed aboard BERTHOLF to define safe operating conditions for stern launch and recovery, develop recommendations for system design improvements, and provide performance data for use during evaluation of future designs. This paper summarizes the results of the boat launch and recovery sea trials and provides recommendations for the design of future systems. Findings are compared to those given in a previous paper presented at the 2003 Annual Meeting (Sheinberg et al 2003) and revised design considerations are presented. These considerations include ramp geometry, limiting ship motions, small boat design features, and special systems such as well water flow management systems and boat capture mechanisms. Finally, the issue of predicting the performance of these systems using physical and numerical modeling techniques is revisited, design criteria are critically assessed, and the importance of operator training is discussed. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are not to be construed as representing the views or official policy of the Commandant or of the United States Coast Guard.

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