University Of Tasmania
GJM_KGP Wave wake accel decel AUTHOR VERSION 21July2021.pdf (897.23 kB)
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Marine vessel wave wake: transient effects when accelerating or decelerating

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 21:48 authored by Gregor MacFarlaneGregor MacFarlane, Graham-Parker, KJ
It is well known that the waves generated by marine vessels, often referred to as wave wake or wash, can cause many issues when operating in sheltered waterways, including, but not limited to, erosion of shorelines and damage to maritime structures, and present a danger to other waterway users. Much research has been undertaken to understand the characteristics of these waves and their effects better, especially for high-speed vessels that operate in shallow water where particularly large and energetic waves are generated. However, in general, all previous studies have considered only steady-state conditions in which vessel speed remains constant; however, many vessel operations, particularly those of commuter ferries, in which regular passages through the transcritical zone to supercritical speeds (in terms of depth Froude number) are required. The present study describes a novel series of model-scale experiments used to quantify the waves during both acceleration and deceleration phases. Notable transient effects were found to occur during the acceleration phase that significantly increased both the height and period of the maximum wave compared to height and period of the maximum wave occurring at the corresponding steady-state speed. The wave characteristics at constant speed were used when assessing whether a particular vessel met wash criteria, and such criteria were likely significantly exceeded when a vessel accelerated to a supercritical speed, which could lead to the occurrence of wave wake issues. In an interesting finding, the study also found no such increase in wave characteristics when the same vessel decelerated back through the transcritical speed zone.


Australian Research Council

Transport for NSW


Publication title

Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, and Ocean Engineering



Article number









Australian Maritime College


American Society of Civil Engineers

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2018 ASCE

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Domestic passenger water transport (e.g. ferries)