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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

A to Z of Services

We support research collaboration and knowledge partnerships, providing access for business to expertise, laboratories and test facilities contributing to a growing maritime innovation cluster.

Facilities, Equipment and Expertise booklet

Acoustic Test Tank

Acoustic Test Tank is available for testing. 5m x 4m x 2m water depth test tank, fitted with a precision x-y-z referencing/equipment mounting system, auto admittance plotter part of the package to assist with analysis of acoustic tests.

Autonomous Vehicle Control Systems Laboratory

The Autonomous Vehicle Control Systems Laboratory has been formed by a merger of all research efforts on intelligent control systems for autonomous vehicles developed at the University of Southampton. This includes advanced guidance, navigation and feedback control methods, agent based control with mission execution capabilities, formal verification of hardware and software systems, fault tolerant and reconfigurable control, hybrid systems modelling and software engineering of intelligent vehicles for practical engineering.Our lab merges all our research and development of intelligent control systems for autonomous vehicles. More details here.


The Wolfson Unit for Marine Technology and Industrial Aerodynamics facility itself has built up a wealth of experience in overcoming aerodynamic problems for their clients. This experience helps them to adapt test techniques or design special tests to match the specifications and budgets of the client. More details here.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Futures Facility

Unravelling the coupling between natural and human induced forcing. More details here.

Bubble Acoustics

Developing bubble technology for uses ranging from discovering unexploded mines in bubbly seawater to tracking undersea gas leaks. More details here.

Calibration Facilities

The National Marine Facilities Sea Systems Division based at the , has a range of calibration facilities, including conductivity temperature, pressure, air and sea temperature and radiometric calibration. More details here.

Chirp 3D System

Ultra-high-resolution 3D imaging. More details here.

Circulating Water Channel

Circulating Water Channel facility available for hire. Dimensions: 3m x 1.7m x 0.8m deep. Suitable for flow visualization. Maximum water speed: 6m/s. Adjustable floor for shallow water studies. More details here.

Coastal and Offshore Archaeological Research Services (COARS)

Archaeological services for the maritime community. Specialists in marine geophysics, geoarchaeology and the study of maritime material culture. More details here.

Composites Experimental Facilities

Specifically developed for general purpose research and development work on FRP composites and light structural components is a new multiple configuration test facility, FORTRESS (Flexible Orthogonal Rig for Testing REal Ship Structures). This is capable of undertaking static and fatigue testing of flat and three dimensional panels up to 2.5 metres by 2.5 metres by 1.5 metres. It can generate multi axis loads in three dimensions of up to 100 tonnes. More details here.

Computational Methods

The high-order computational aeroacoustics program SotonCAA has been developed in the Centre and is at the forefront of numerical noise prediction technology. More details here.

Coral Reef Laboratory

Using advanced mesocosm facilities and molecular approaches to understand the impact of climate change on coral reef ecosystems. Approximately 15m x 7m x 5m high and is fully anechoic down to 400 Hz. Used for jet and valve noise and equipped with an air supply that can achieve up to 20bar pressure. More details here.



Electrical Materials Characterisation

In the process of product development the characterisation of materials in terms of electrical, mechanical and thermal properties plays an important role. Within the laboratory we have the capability to undertake most standard tests and when required we can also access specialist test equipment and expertise. Often with forensic investigation it is necessary to characterise materials and interpret the results in terms of cause or effect of a given problem/failure. More details here.

Electron Microscopy

The centre houses strategic research facilities for the microstructural characterisation of materials by high resolution imaging and micro-area chemical analysis. Both scanning and transmission electron microscopes are available. More details here.

Erosion and Corrosion Test Equipment

High velocity air-sand erosion, Slurry jet erosion and erosion-corrosion rigs, Slurry Pot, Flow Corrosion Loop, Salt fog cabinet. More details here.

Fast Craft Simulator

Determining if the level of boat driving expertise has an effect on interpreting oncoming waves, the use of the throttle and resulting boat speed. More details here.

Feasibility Studies

These may comprise paper studies, literature searches, computer modelling, equipment design and structural design in metal or composites. Past studies have included turnover of a large hull, davit launching of life rafts, bow thruster blade design, evaluation of traditional sail powered fishing boats and means of improving dockside handling of containers. More details here.

Geochemical Sample Analysis

Chemical analysis and interpretation on a wide range of sample materials. Facilities support research activity across the University, through external partnerships and for commercial clients. More details here.

Global Iceberg Forecasting

Using state-of-the-art global models to forecast iceberg tracks and impacts, from days to decades. More details here.

Hand and Wrist Kinematics

New system for reliably assessing and benchmarking complex tasks for use in the design process. More details here.

HD Cables in Marine Environments

Controls of marine environment on HV cable performance via numerical modelling, physical tank experiments and field experiments – deployment of 3D Chirp. More details here.

The Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory

State-of-the-art facility for research into dielectric materials and insulation systems, as well as high voltage and related phenomena. More details here.

Human Factors Laboratory

This unit contributes to many of the current standards for measuring, evaluating and assessing vibration. More details here.

Integrated Optical Network Sensors

Our optical sensors offer lightweight and highly sensitive solutions to a wide range of sectors. More details here.

Intelligent Agent Technology Systems

Agent technology underpins the decentralised control mechanisms allowing teams of autonomous platforms to operate in dynamic environments while flexibly interacting with human operators. More details here.

Marine Composites

Data-rich experimental approaches to composite materials, structural performance and tolerance to damage. More details here.

Marine Geophysics

Over 20 years’ experience collecting, analysing and reporting high resolution geophysical data. More details here.

Marine Noise and Vibration

ISVR specialises in noise and vibration issues specific to the automotive industry, though these skills extend naturally to the marine and general rotating machinery disciplines. For over 35 years we have been involved in all aspects of automotive NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) and other closely related automotive activities. More details here.

Marine Technology and Industrial Aerodynamics

Our world-renowned Wolfson Unit offers model testing, CFD, consultancy and software services to a wide customer base. More details here.

Maritime Robotics Laboratory

Developing the next generation of maritime robotics systems. More details here.

Mechanical Workshop

This well-equipped section has provision for large capacity and precision machining as well as horizontal boring. The workshop has experience and expertise in making chemical research apparatus including: photo electron spectrometers, vacuum systems, pressure vessels, gloveboxes, electro-chemical cells. More details here.

Motor Yacht, Ship and Power Craft Testing

The following experimental techniques may be employed as part of the design process. Towing Tank tests using small scale models, up to 2.5m long. Towing Tank tests with large scale models, up to 6m long. Wind Tunnel tests on hulls and keels. Wind Tunnel tests on masts and sails. Full Scale Trials. Sail Training Vessels. Large Cruising Yachts. Experimental Equipment. More details here.

Multidisciplinary, Multiscale, Microtomographic Volume Imaging

The centre incorporates five advanced X-ray computed tomography systems able to produce high resolution 3D images of the internal structure of objects. More details here.

National Centre of Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS)


nCATS has access to the surface engineering and tribology facilities for measurement and analysis at both the University of Southampton and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), in the areas of:

•Sliding friction/wear



•Abrasion wear


•Properties of materials/coatings

More details here.


Ocean Basin Testing

Ocean basin available for testing. Dimensions: 120m x 60m x 5.5m deep. Suitable for manoeuvring tests in calm water and waves. Wedge type wavemakers providing regular waves and sea states. More details here.

Ocean-bottom Instrumentation

Seismic and Electromagnetic multi-sensor versatile seabed instruments to enable sub-surface geophysical imaging at high vertical and lateral resolution. Services offered include active and passive seismic acquisition, EM acquisition, survey design and data analysis. More details here.

Onboard Loading and Damage Stability Testing

The Wolfson Unit develop and sell several types of onboard systems for vessel monitoring or assessment. These systems include including hardware and/or software. We welcome customer optional specifications and requirements. The Onboard Loading Program has been developed in conjunction with serving bridge officers in order to allow rapid entry of data and calculation of stability. The additional Onboard Damage Program allows rapid computation of stability after damage. More details here.

Operational Research, Management Sciences and Information Systems

With a strong focus on supply chain logistics this team of internationally-renowned experts in specific areas of risk, optimisation, finance and health covers the whole spectrum of current Operational Research, Management Science and Information Systems from theoretical mathematical developments to problem structuring and knowledge management. More details here.

Palaeomagnetism and Environmental Magnetism Research Facility

State-of-the-art instruments for fast and precise analysis of natural and lab-induced magnetizations in marine and lake sediment. More details here.

Photonics Foundry

Our Foundry is a hub for innovation in photonics science and technology offering over 730m2 of state-of-the art clean room facilities and related labs. More details here.

Partial Discharge Testing

We can undertake partial discharge measurements to the relevant BS an IEC standards. More details here.

Performance Sports Engineering

We have been working with America's Cup teams since the early 1980's and have assisted British cycling and various Olympians. More details here.

Pressure Test Tank

Pressure Test Tank PV1 is available for testing. 952.5mm diameter x 1206.6mm deep, pc controlled with hard copy online reports available, working pressure up to 680 bar, 3 entry/exit points for monitoring. More details here.

Research Vessels

Ranging from 7.00 to 19.75m, three vessels available for fieldwork and coastal, shelf and local water research. More details here.

Sailing Yacht Testing

The towing tank and wind tunnel are only two of the many research facilities available to the designer. By working through the Wolfson Unit, he has access to the wide range of academic staff within the University specialising in such disciplines as computational fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, electronics, materials and structures. More details here.

Scanning Electron Microscopy Facility

Services include high resolution imaging and micro area chemical analysis. More details here.

Salt Fog Chamber

Traditional insulator designs using either ceramics or glass have been superseded by polymeric and composite designs and we have a lot of experience of testing developments in this area. Our salt fog chamber is also capable of supplying mist or rain at flow and dispersion levels that meet modern test standards. More details here.

Scientific Glass Blowing Service

The workshop is furnished with a comprehensive range of equipment to manufacture complex scientific glassware and this, together with the technical expertise of the staff, produces a service capable of meeting demands. More details here.

Scour Analysis

Time lapse analysis of scour evolution; CFD modelling of scour development; Substrate controls on scour development. More details here.

Small Scale Testing

Many design problems can be solved at model scale without the expense of full size prototypes. Some of the problems the Unit has solved using models include anchor orientation on stowage, vortex measurements on underwater bodies, lifeboat launching systems, surge in ships' swimming pools, and wave slam loads on offshore structures. More details here.

Structronics and UAV Skunkworks

Production of “intelligent” 3D parts whereby structures can be produced containing sensors and electronic components (commonly called “structronics”). More details here.

Testing and Structures Laboratory

Addressing microstructure-property relationships, material-structure synthesis, design production coupling and fluid-structure interactions. More details here.

Towing Tanks

Our newest world class facility is 138m long, 6m wide and 3.5m deep with a high speed carriage and capability of producing a full range of unidirectional seastate simulations. It is ITT accredited with a comprehensive range of sensors.

Also available:

Dimensions: 258m x 12.2m x 5.5m deep. Suitable for models up to 5.5m LOA and 600kg displacement. Maximum carriage speed: 9m/s. Wavemaker: flap type under computer control, providing repeatable regular, irregular and breaking waves. Refinement of hull shapes and appendage configurations. Flow measurements and pressure mapping techniques can be employed to assist with the interpretation of force data.

Dimensions: 150m x 5m x 3m deep. Maximum carriage speed: 7.5m/s. Wavemaker: flap type under computer control, providing repeatable regular, irregular and breaking waves.

More details here.

Transport Systems Research Laboratory

Experimental capabilities range from fundamental materials testing through to the analysis of whole engineering structures. Emphasis is placed on performance under service conditions, including in-service loading spectra, temperatures and chemical environments. Test requirements specific to the marine, automotive, aerospace, construction and biomedical engineering sectors are met. The facilities are fully integrated into the computational modelling, design, manufacturing and materials analysis facilities. More details here.

Tribology Laboratory

Tribological facilities available include: PoD (x2), Reciprocating, Twin Roller, u-abrasion, Bearing Test Facility, Mini Traction Machine (MTM). More details here.

Water Tunnel

Enclosed Water Tunnel facility available for hire. Working section 0.3m x 0.25m. Suitable for flow visualization on small models. Maximum flow speed: 3.5m/s. More details here.

Wear Testing

Pin-on-disc wear test rigs, Micro-abrasion wear test facility, Erosion test facilities using sonic air/sand and water/sand, Wire-line wear testing, Bearing Tests Facility. More details here.

Wind Tunnels

The 3'x 2' tunnel has an open circuit facility with a 0.9 m x 0.6 m x 4.5m working section. It is installed in a laboratory, is equipped with a 3D computer controlled probe traversing system and dynamometer, and is used for a variety of aerodynamics research and student project work. It is also suitable for the calibration of instrumentation and the laboratory has laser safety arrangements that enable the PIV system to be used for flow visualisation studies. The 7' x 5' wind tunnel has a slightly smaller 2.1m x 1.5m working section, with speeds up to 55 m/s, and is used extensively for research projects. It has a moving ground for vehicle aerodynamic work. The tunnel also has a 4.6 m x 3.7 m (15' x 12') low speed section that is used for wind engineering studies and work for the marine industry on racing yacht sails. More details here.

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