Skip to content

Towing Tank

University of Southampton

The University of Southampton Towing Tank is a new facility located at the recently opened Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, which the University shares with Lloyd’s Register’s Global Technology Centre.

With dimensions of 138 m x 6 m x 3.5 m and a maximum carriage speed of 10 m/s, this world class facility is ideally suited to support teaching, research and commercial clients, not just for conventional ship model testing but across the aerospace, energy, and transportation sectors.

The Towing Tank was designed in-house and built following high standards to be at the forefront of physical testing for many years to come. It features a combination of conventional proven systems as well as the latest technology.

The Towing Tank is the largest University towing tank in the UK and one of the largest in Europe. It supports the following activities within the University:


The Towing Tank is frequently used by Undergraduate students from the Ship Science courses for various hydrodynamics labs as part of their degrees. Students from across the Faculty can also access the Tank as part of their Individual Projects in their 3rd year or their Group Design Projects in their 4th year, as well as MSc students during their summer projects.

PhD students also have access to the facility as part of their research.


The Towing Tank supports fundamental and applied research for various departments across the University and in areas such as fundamental fluid dynamics, renewable energies, autonomous systems or innovative ship design.


The Towing Tank has a strong link to the marine industry through the Wolfson Unit which conducts maritime consultancy work for yacht, ship and power boat manufacturers.

The Tank is also available for hire for external companies, please do not hesitate to contact us for more details.

University of Southampton
Test Section 1 size:
138 m long x 6 m wide x 3.5 m deep with 0.5 m free board
Towing and wave tank
Maximum Flow Speed: Maximum Carriage Speed: 10 m/s
Reynolds No: 7x10⁷ (max)

Temperature: Ambient (~288k)
Run Time: From 12 seconds to 3 minutes
Typical Recharge Time: ~10 minutes

Testing Capabilities:
Model Support: Bespoke dynamometer with different tow force and side force ranges, from 0 to 1500 N.
Data Acquisition: Motion capture system for towed and free running models, both above and under water.
Propeller dynamometers for thrust and torque measurements.
Open water rig.
Ultrasonic wave probes.
Permanent acquisition of environmental data in the tank at various locations.

Flow visualisation: Underwater PIV and LDV systems.

Specialist Rigs:
(i) Passive beach at end of tank with Active wave makers (12 paddles) across other end that can generate regular and irregular sea states with max. amplitude of 0.5 m for wide range of model scale wave frequencies.
(ii) Deployable side beach to damp waves rapidly between runs
(iii) Modular instrumentation stations and fixings to walls/floor of tank
(iv) Innovative design of high speed carriage capable of both manned and unmanned operations
(v) Automated and repeatable test process
(vi) Live video feeds and live data streaming
Passive Beach
Lifting beaches on North tank wall
Underwater stereo PIV system
2-component underwater LDA system