Design of a Mobile Workstation for the Launch and Retrieval of UUVs

Photo of Robert Abney, Andrew Kragas, Chris Mericle, Sara Norris Students: Robert Abney, Andrew Kragas, Chris Mericle, Sara Norris

Sponsor: Applied Research Laboratories

Date: Summer 2008

Requirements:

The requirements and constraints for the launch and retrieval method are given in the table below. In the table, the threshold value corresponds to the criterion that must be met, while the objective value is a goal for maximum potential. Not shown in the table are requirements related to the safety of the UUVs and boat operators; these requirements are of utmost importance.

Problem:

This project is a two part project that focuses on the design of a mechanical system for the dynamic launch and retrieval of UUVs from a pontoon style watercraft. The first phase involved the design and specification of the watercraft itself, while the second involved the design of the launch and retrieval system. The system for launch and retrieval should be as effective as the existing, on-shore method, and maintain the safety of the UUVs throughout the process.

Solution:

The resulting launch and retrieval system incorporates three major features. These include a rotating frame system, an extended deck structure, and a cart and roller system to interface with the UUV. The rotating frame system is hydraulically actuated for maximum stability and control and features a square tube frame structure capable of supporting the maximum size UUV. The extended deck structure comprises both I-beam supports and square tubing, held together by bolts and gussets to extend the deck 3 ft beyond the end of the pontoon, ensuring safe clearance of the outboard motors. The UUV cart is designed to hold multiple sizes of UUVs. This device incorporates two roller sheave systems to guide the UUV safely onto the cart. One sheave on the deck serves as a centering device as well as a pivot point, while the second (placed on the cart) serves as a final pivot for clearance from external fins and props at the rear of the UUV. Successful launch and retrieval required each of these subsystems to be optimized and then integrated as a unit. The entire launch and retrieval mechanism was then adapted to fit the previously designed watercraft structure and a mechanical analysis of the entire pontoon structure was performed to ensure the stability and strength of the watercraft.

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