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Built in 1905, the physical model basin was the first towing tank owned and operated by an educational institution in the United States.  Remodeling activities began during 1962 and continued in 1980 and 1990. Since 2001, the capabilities have been under continual upgrade and improvement. The model basin is equipped to facilitate a full range of classical and innovative experimental procedures consisting of but not limited to the following:

• conventional ship resistance and propulsion testing• advanced six-degree-of-freedom seakeeping tests

• flow-visualization using video and lasers

• three component laser Doppler velocimetry

• Model motion tracking using an infrared optical tracking system

• directional stability, related to towing, using  laser tracking

maneuvering tests.

View of the West Engineering Building as it appeared when opened in 1904. Note that the model basin, then 300-ft long, stretched well beyond the rest of the building. In 1908 the basin’s structure was extended by 60 feet, and the building itself was also lengthened to enclose the basin. Initially, however, the 60-ft increment was blocked off and “temporarily” floored over for use as an electrical engineering lab. It remained that way until 1948, when the electrical lab was moved across the street. The tank was pumped dry, the “temporary” wall removed, the tracks extended, and the tank re-filled. Only then was it discovered that the “new” concrete would not hold water, so the tank had to be emptied once more to allow repairs.

The University of Michigan

Naval Towing Tank