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CHIPS Articles: 2017 International Human-Powered Submarine Races at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division’s Model Basin

2017 International Human-Powered Submarine Races at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division’s Model Basin
By Kevin Sykes, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division Public Affairs - June 9, 2017
WEST BETHESDA, Md. – More than 20 teams from around the world will race their human-propelled submarines in the U.S. Navy’s longest tow tank during the 14th International Submarine Races (ISR) at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, June 26-30.

Hosted by the Foundation for Underwater Research (FURE), ISR is a unique engineering design competition and one of the oldest STEM events in the Department of Defense, drawing hundreds of spectators during the biennial, weeklong races.

Since 1989, the races have grown to include participation from universities, corporations, research centers, high schools and privately sponsored teams. Each team designs and builds a one- or two-person “wet” submarine, relying on the principles of hydrodynamic design, buoyancy, propulsion, guidance systems, underwater life support and systems engineering.

Competitors race their submarines in the deep-water basin in Carderock’s 3,200-foot long historic David Taylor Model Basin, typically used for classified submarine and surface ship testing. Contestants use scuba equipment while powering their submarines down the course.

The teams compete for best overall performance, innovation, speed, best design outline and best spirit of the races awards. Slated to compete this year are international teams from countries including Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada and Mexico, with a team new to the races from India. Also on the roster are seven U.S. college teams: Virginia Tech, the University of Michigan, Texas A&M University, the University of Washington, the University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University and Florida Polytechnic University.

Because Carderock Division is an active military installation; standard Defense Department access procedures must be followed to enter the base. The races are closed to the general public.

Part of the Naval Sea Systems Command, Carderock Division’s responsibilities span a broad range including science and technology, research and development, test and evaluation, product delivery and fleet support. The division leads the Navy in hull, mechanical and electrical engineering expertise and delivers technical solutions in order to build and sustain a dominant, ready and affordable fleet. Headquartered in West Bethesda, Maryland, approximately 2,100 scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel are located across the U.S., from Florida to Alaska.

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