New opportunities mark the end of an era for the GKN No.3 Towing Tank.
After 38 years of providing high-speed hydrodynamic testing services to the marine industry the historic No3 towing tank at GKN on the Isle of Wight
has been decommissioned. Overwhelming commercial pressures have forced GKN to reluctantly dismantle the towing tank.
The space is to be used for additional aerospace manufacturing activities that will provide employment for up to 50 people.
Marine South East has been working with GKN to develop a strategy for the future provision of hydrodynamic testing facilities.
The 200m long tank was built in 1969 by the British Hovercraft Corporation primarily to test the SR.N4 cross-channel hovercraft designs.
Throughout its life the facility's high-speed capability and computer controlled wave-maker have made it particularly suitable for
the testing of many vessel types; fast patrol boats, catamarans, SWATH'S, motor yachts, lifeboats, fishing boats, coasters, survey ships,
ferries, barges, high performance yachts, work boats, hovercraft and underwater vehicles. In addition to the British Hovercraft Corporation
and its descendants the tank has been used by the University of Southampton's Wolfson Unit, BMT SeaTech, Seaspeed Marine Consulting, MTMC
and others who have all performed tests for an international client base.
Ian Campbell of the Wolfson Unit said "Over the last twenty years we have completed many successful projects using the GKN towing tank.
Although we fully understand GKN's position, the loss of this facility is regrettable as hydrodynamic test facilities are a vital component
in the UK marine industry supply chain. The Wolfson Unit has now had to move some of its tank testing activities to facilities in France
and Eastern Europe. For the future, we are hopeful that the lost capabilities will return to the region.
Reproduced from the Marine South East magazine 2009
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