What is a Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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A wave adaptive modular vessel, sometimes seen in print listed as a WAM-V, is a unique type of ocean going vessel. A prototype was showcased in the San Francisco Bay on 18 January 2007, to demonstrate the capabilities and potential uses for the vessel in a controlled environment. The company which developed the prototype, Marine Advanced Research, believes that it marks the start of a new era for marine technology.

The double hulled design for the vessel is very similar to that of a catamaran. The basic design consists of two floating pontoons, each with a separate engine, attached to each other, and a central command deck with four flexible legs. The command deck is detachable and can be separated from the parent vessel for quick trips, running on its own power. The legs include titanium springs and bearings that allow them to bend and flex with the movement of the ocean. The design resembles a sort of primitive spider, and appears to dance across the water, rather than cutting through it.

The designers of the wave adaptive modular vessel believe that it is more efficient than other boating methods. The vessel rests on top of the water instead of forcing its way through, and the unique design allows it to move with the waves, leaving a minimal wake behind. It also has a very shallow draft, because it sits on top of the water, making it ideal for shallow lagoons and similar applications.


Environmentally, using a wave adaptive modular vessel makes a great deal of sense. The shallow wake left behind ensures that the vessel does not disturb the water as much as other large boats. In addition, the boat is highly fuel efficient because of its very lightweight and innovative design. Minimal anchorage is needed, which reduces damage to the ocean floor. People with environmental concerns can use one, and scientists can also take advantage of them for low-impact research.

A full sized wave adaptive modular vessel is capable of being used on the open ocean, raising a range of possibilities for use of the technology. It could be used for military applications like surveillance and rapid deployment of troops and supplies, but it could also be used for scientific surveys, SCUBA diving, or passenger transport. It is also easy to learn how to use one: even inexperienced sailors can pick up the skill readily.


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