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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Research into Lifeboats Wins Student an Award

Published: 9 December 2013Origin: Engineering

An investigation into the science and engineering behind an innovative flexible lifeboat design has won a prize for a postgraduate research student at the University of Southampton.

(c) RNLI, Martin Fish
RNLI D-Class

Engineering Doctorate (EngD) student Peter Halswell has been working with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) on its D-class five metre inflatable lifeboat (IB). It handles well in rough conditions because it has a unique combination of a stiffened hinged composite deck and inflatable fabric hull. First used in 1963, there are now around 150 on station around the country, saving lives at sea in the worst weather. When RNLI engineers wanted to measure its hydroelasticity so they could reduce vibration for the crew and casualties and further improve performance of the boat, they commissioned the research at Southampton.

(c) RNLI, Dave Nicoll
RNLI D-Class

Over the last four years, Peter, supervised by Professor Philip Wilson and working alongside the RNLI's in house engineering team, has carried out static and open water tests, probing the forces on the structure with 52 sensors attached to the hull. His use of a CompactRIO datalogger to save the data for analysis in rough conditions has won him a runners-up prize in the National Instruments' Graphical Systems Design Achievement Awards at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London. Peter is about to finish his EngD and will start a job at the engineering company Fraser-Nash Consultancy in Dorking in January 2014.

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