Submarine Freight Transportation System


Concept of Submarine Freight Transportation System (SFTS) can become a part of future Global Automated Transport System. Initially SFTS system supposed using of railroad cars but its configuration is ideal for Automated Vehicles.

Sea vessels of SFTS system are unmanned. It will be possible to use a separate passenger capsule based on the principle of clingfish (remora) but this version will not be considered here because maritime passenger transportation is not actual. This presentation of SFTS concept shows some fundamental solutions that distinguish this system from other conventional maritime freight transportation systems.


A.    Ship


Submarine freight ship (Fig. 7) is the most important component of SFTS system. Its architecture is based on the simple enough modules and elements that have a real chance to facilitate the construction and to make it cheaper relating to some above-water ships.


Fig. 7


The hull of SFTS ship can be considered as a set of separate firm (pressure) tubes that are bearing the outside water pressure. According to calculations of engineers from Russian Design Bureau “Malachite”   the price of one cubic meter of internal space inside the firm hull is nearly constant for different diameters of that hull. It is justified for conventional submarines but it does not applicable to SFTS ships. SFTS ships are unmanned so it is possible to use lower safety factor that means cheaper materials. It is possible to organize the flow production of relatively small (diameter) tubes in order to decrease their cost. It looks promising to test some constructions of reinforced concrete for pressure tubes production.

There are some other materials and technologies that may be used for pressure tube manufacturing but this choice may be done on the base of comparative analysis and tests.

Pressure tubes have nearly nothing inside except the floor. Side space inside the pressure tubes can be used to install there ballast substitution tanks (inside the firm hull) and tanks for static stabilization. Moreover, it will be possible to use the whole space inside the tubes as the ballast substitution tank for light weight freight transportation or free of freight.

The space inside the hull but outside of pressure tubes may be filled with distilled water produced by Fuel Cell plants.


Regarding the power plant for SFTS vessels there are only two solutions that could be accepted by human society for freight transportation. One of them is a Fuel Cell plant.  This plant is the only choice in the near future for long distances or for large SFTS vessels. For short distances and small SFTS vessels is possible to use a set of conventional batteries loaded on train. This battery train will be loaded together with AVs in one of pressure tubes. At the destination point this train is taken off and replaced with a new charged one.


B.    Terminal


Special terminals are the part of SFTS concept (Fig.8, and Fig. 9).  They may be considered as a disadvantage but nobody considers airports as an excessive part of aviation system today. Even the container handling requires the special container terminals. At the same time there is an obvious advantage of SFTS terminals: freight handling of GATS-SFTS automated vehicles can be the fastest in whole maritime industry.  


The main element of terminal is the Pontoon.





Terminals do not need hoisting cranes and are not sensible to the winds. It is possible to cover loading space by a roof that will be justified for terminals in northern regions. A system that includes a lifting pontoon is able to compensate the influence of flood.


The whole process of unshipping/lading may be shortly described as follows:

The ship comes into the dock and is lifted to a level slightly higher than the loading level. The pontoon is moved to the quay and here is let down on the firm supports. A head streamliner is raised up and the firm covers of pressure tubes are opened. Vehicles go away.





For loading this process is repeated in a reverse order. After the lading process is over the covers of pressure tubes are closed and the head streamliner is let down. The pontoon is raised slightly up and moved out from the quay. Then it goes down together with the ship to the bottom of terminal and there has to be realized a fine static balancing of the ship (rough static balancing was realized by preliminary AVs sorting). This process is done simultaneously with the process of getting zero buoyancy (zero floating) of the ship.

The supply of energy and compressed air for both these processes has to be provided by terminal. After both of them are over it is the time to switch on the system of dynamic stability and to leave the terminal.


C.    Large Ship

It is possible to make a large ship but in this case it construction should be different. The pressure tube should be installed in honeycomb frame cells (Fig.10 and Fig.11). This ship has to separate its propulsion block from freight block before lifting the pontoon with the freight block only.

The process of loading/unloading is realized on the stack principal (last in – first out). It means that unloading should be fully completed row by row and the loading is started from the lowest row in reverse order.







D.    Navigation

The navigation system near the shore may be realized on the base of beacon-responders that are connected consequently by power and information cables. They are switched on after they receive the incoming signal from a ship and they will be able to exchange the information with it and to forward this information to traffic operator.

For open seas is possible to use another example from the nature similar to the mentioned above clingfish – pilot fish. It is possible to develop a “pilot fish” on the base of small electric torpedoes. Its primary goal is to go to sea surface to become a transponder (including GPS data acquisition). After the operation is over it comes back for docking to the vessel like clingfish. All of it should be done in non-stop mode. 

It will be possible to use the floating beacon-responder in icy regions where it can freely travel with its block of ice and is able to collect and transmit the climate and environment information.  

© 2011 Global Intelligent Transportation System