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The University of Southampton

Students' computer simulation recreates the battle of Trafalgar

Published: 20 October 2005

Two hundred years after the English and French fleets faced each other at Trafalgar, enthusiasts can fight the battle again, thanks to a virtual marine environment developed at the University of Southampton.

Final-year Ship Science and Aerospace Engineering students at the University have combined maritime history with modern advances in technology to develop a scientifically accurate computer simulation system which provides physically-realistic performance comparisons of marine craft from HMS Victory to 21st century ocean-racing yachts.

Virtual Trafalgar is currently on display at Action Stations in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations. It will be exhibited on board HMS Victory for Trafalgar Day tomorrow (21 October).

Recent delegates of the International Trafalgar Conference over the Trafalgar Heroes weekend were enthralled by the computer recreation. A fully interactive version controlled via a wind tunnel is being developed and will be unveiled in February 2006.

Original drawings of Nelson's flagship were used to build wind tunnel and towing tank models which were tested to provide new engineering data for the simulation. This information can be used by modern tall ship designers drawing up plans for the Victory's successors.

Supervisor of the project, Dr Stephen Turnock, remarks: "The superb fighting prowess of Nelson's fleet relied on the expertise of the designers and ship builders of the 18th and 19th century. As a University, Southampton is educating the future naval architects upon whom the UK will rely to maintain its leading position in maritime technology. The Virtual Trafalgar project has demonstrated the excellent quality of today's students and that our marine industries can still attract the most able of individuals."

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Notes for editors

  1. Details of Virtual Trafalgar project will be presented by Dr Stephen Turnock at the International Congress on Technology of the Ships of Trafalgar: An Homage to their Designers and Constructors in Madrid in November 2005.
  2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has around 20,000 students and 5,000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £274 million.
  3. Action Stations opened in 2001 as part of the Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour Millennium Project. An exciting interactive attraction that showcases the modern Royal Navy,
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