A patented Lockheed Martin ship design will give government and commercial users the stability they want while reducing wave resistance and allowing high speeds. The new design is called SLICE, and a $12.3 million prototype ship built under U.S. Navy technology demonstration program was built by Pacific Marine. SLICE is able to achieve a speed of 30 knots and reduce wave resistance by 35 percent.
The design is an advancement based on Marine System's SWATH (small waterplane area twin hull) vessel, which sits above the surface on narrow struts connected to long, torpedo-like hulls. SLICE, on the other hand, has four teardrop-shaped hulls. SLICE's short hulls are able to rise above the wave "hump" much more quickly, similar to the way a ski boat pushes a large wave when it's traveling slowly but rises above that resistance when it reaches higher speeds. Ships too large to move beyond the hump encounter more resistance the faster they go, thereby becoming fuel inefficient at higher speeds.
For the military, the SLICE design could be used to provide a very stable platform for radar, weapons and sensors in those situations when close-in support is needed. Its combination of speed and stability also would make SLICE useful in Coast Guard search-and-rescue missions or for scientific vessels that could trim expenses by being able to arrive on station earlier, thereby reducing man-hours spent en route.
Other promising uses are in the commercial sector, where the SLICE design could be employed, for example, in ferries that traverse rough water. Not only could SLICE make the trip quickly and safely, but passengers would be much less likely to become seasick.