Advanced materials such as carbon composites and aluminium offer the shipbuilding an opportunity  to reduce costs, although they are yet to be explored at full scale.

Verdict has conducted a poll to understand the factors that are driving the use of advanced materials to overcome the challenges faced by the naval shipbuilding industry.

A majority 51% of the respondents opined that stealth to be the primary objective of using advanced materials, while 31% opined that the objective should be corrosion protection.

Advanced materials in ship building

The remaining 18% of the respondents voted for high-speed demand to be the motive for the use of advanced materials technology.

The analysis is based on 325 responses received from the readers of Naval Technology, a Verdict network site, between 08 October 2020 and 11 February 2021.

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Advanced materials technology could change the future of the naval shipbuilding industry

Ship manufacturers are increasingly looking towards materials that can improve performance and increase weapons load, while reducing fuel costs, maintenance, and environmental impact. Approximately 80% of the fuel consumed by a ship goes towards maintaining its speed and overcoming hydrodynamic drag. Use of new and advanced materials can help improve the range of military operations performed by naval ships.

The US Navy is already experimenting with omniphobic coatings for its surface ships, submarines, and unmanned underwater vessels. These coatings can repel water and reduce hydrodynamic drag thereby saving fuel costs.

Although advanced materials offer promise, empirical knowledge on their performance is limited compared to steel. The relatively low experience with advanced materials can lead to the development of conservative ship designs or cause in-service failures such as wave damage.