MARYLAND

Naval Surface Warfare Center unveils new wave testing basin

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BETHESDA, Md. (WJLA) - The Naval Surface Warfare Center Caderock Division unveiled its newly renovated wave testing basin on Thursday. Officially known as the Maneuvering and Seakeeping (MASK) facility, the 12-million gallon pool is used to put model-size ships in the most compromising oceanic conditions.

Photo: Kevin Lewis/WJLA

"In this facility we can test scale models up to 30 feet in length in order to predict the full-scale performance of ships in the open ocean," said Joseph Moeller, head of NSWCCD's Hydromechanics Facilities Engineering and Operations division.

With perfect precision, 216 finger-like boards simulate thousands of different waves seen all across the globe. The wave boards, positioned of two of the basin's four walls, send churning water across the 240-foot-wide pool and into concrete shores. The specially-designed shoreline absorbs the water energy quickly, turning the pool tranquil within 45 seconds of the last wave crashing. Prior to the renovation, scientists would have to wait 15 to 20 minutes for the water to return to normal because of antiquated technology.

"As we say here at Carderock, we do things for the war-fighter that private industry can't, won't or shouldn't do," said Tim Arcano Jr., Carderock Division technical director. 

The project, six years in the making, completely overhauled the U.S. Navy's original tank built during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

"The roots of the incredible operational ability of the U.S. Navy can be traced back to the design, development, and testing that takes right here in this facility," said Rear Admiral Lawrence Creevy, the commander of NSWC.

The construction endeavor had a price tag of $24.8 million. However, military members and research scientists say it's a small price to pay.

"There should be no doubt that the investment that the nation is making here at Carderock will pay for itself many times over," said John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

The Navy admits other nations like Brazil, Germany and Japan operate tidal basins with similar missions, but none, it says, measures up to the newly-upgraded Bethesda facility.

Although trial runs began in November, the Navy will formally commence testing in March, while also assisting the U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, private marine manufacturers and cruise ship companies with their safety research.

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