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PORT REVEL

SHIPHANDLING
HIPHANDLIN

THE PIVOT POINT

OCTOBER 2012

THIS DOCUMENT MAY BE FREELY USED PROVIDED THAT IT BEARS THE WORDING
WO
COPYRIGHT PORT REVEL.

THE ART OF SHIPHANDLING


INVOLVES THE EFFECTIVE USE
OF FORCES UNDER CONTROL
TO OVERCOME THE EFFECT OF
FORCES NOT UNDER CONTROL
(Charles H. Cotter, 1963)

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Momentum: nothing on earth is as fast as a ship nearly stopped

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The second law reads: F = ma, where:


F: force in Newton
m: mass in kg
a: acceleration of mass m in m/s2
It should be noted that mass m includes the ships displacement and the so-called
added mass which was introduced by naval architects to quantify the force needed to
change the ships velocity. This added mass is therefore related to the ships
accelerations/decelerations.
The third law distinguishes between actions such as those generated by wind, current,
propeller, rudder, tug, and reactions such as underwater resistance.

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The neutral point is a physical point. Its position depends on the position of:
the centre of gravity
the centre of buoyancy
the centre of the underwater area (shape of the hull, trim)
and of the pressure field around the hull (dead in the water, headway or sternway)
1. ship dead in the water:
the neutral point is close to the centre of gravity
and to the centre of wet area
2. ship with headway:
the neutral point is shifted forward:
more pressure on the bow
more underwater forces forward
3. ship with sternway:
the neutral point is shifted backwards:
more pressure on the stern
more underwater forces aft

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The underwater resistance force (UWR) exists both for pure headway or sternway
motion and for all lateral motions. It induces flow velocities below and beside the hull.
This in turn justifies the use of Bernoulli's law.
The added mass is not negligible as it may amount to around 10% of the ships
displacement. It is nil when the ship is at rest, and greater
when the ship is involved in oscillatory
motions (rolling, heaving, etc.).
The boundary layer is located between the hull
and the still water area.
Due to friction of the hull on the water body and
owing to viscosity, the large flow velocity
gradient and the shear stress induce turbulence.

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When the rudder is put over to port, it makes an angle with the water flow and so acts
as a foil to generate a sideways force that swings the ship head to port. In doing so,
higher pressure builds up against the starboard side of the hull and the entire hull form
will be acting as a foil that makes the ship follow a circular track to port (see also I. C.
Clark, Ship dynamics for mariners, Nautical Institute, 2005).
The lift force on the inside of the curved track and UWR acting on the outside of the
curve add up to create a resulting force moving the bow to port. This resultant is
sometimes called centripetal force, but we will keep the name UWR here.
This UWR counteracts the centrifugal force acting on any object moving on a curved
track.

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The ship moves under the combined effect of 3 forces:


Acceleration of masses (including added mass),
Viscous dissipation (friction),
Hydrostatic forces.
The Centre of Drift (D) is the point at which the resultant of all hydrodynamic forces
acts: underwater resistance UWR, lift (R1) and drag (R2) as a function of speed and
drift angle.
Also note that is always larger than .

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The pivot point (PP) is used by mariners to visualise the rotation of a ship during its
combined rotation/translation movement. It is the result of all forces acting on the ship
(it is not the cause of anything!) and its position changes continuously during the ships
displacement, depending on the forces involved.
The concept of Pivoting Point was described by the British Admiralty in the early sixties
as the point with no drift angle. Further developments were introduced by Hugues
Cauvier in 2008 (The Pivot Point, The Pilot, October 2008) and triggered much
discussion on the Pivot Point: what is it? Where is it located? Some of his concepts are
summarized in the next few pages.

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A good example of a fixed Pivot Point.


Ships have a mobile Pivot Point.

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The position of the pivot point is the result of all forces inducing ship motion.
These forces are so numerous and so variable that the exact position of the pivot point
cannot really be anticipated. At best it can be guessed.

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The drift angle varies alongships.


The larger the drift angle, the greater the hull resistance and, consequently, the loss of
speed will be.

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The pivot point (PP) is used by mariners to visualise the rotation of a ship during its
combined rotation/translation movement. It is the result of all forces acting on the ship
(it is not the cause of anything!) and its position changes continuously during the ships
displacement depending on the forces involved.

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The pivot point is positioned on the other side of the neutral point, at a distance depending
on the length of the lever arm and the intensity of the force.

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When the tug comes closer to the neutral point, the lever arm is reduced:
less rotation
more translation
Hence, the pivot point is moved backwards.

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Beware when leaving a berth remember the position of the PP in both cases.

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We define the computed PP by means of a vector approach using the bow and stern of
two successive ship positions (see also A. de Graauw, Where is my Pivot Point?
Seaways, March 2012).
This leads to 2 vectors: from bow 1 to bow 2 and from stern 1 to stern 2.
We then take the transversal components of these 2 vectors.
The connecting line between these 2 components will cross the ship axis at PP.
The PP position can thus be computed for any track of the ship.
It is obviously a purely geometrical matter.

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On a perfectly circular track, the heading changes constantly and steadily (NB: time is
given for Port Revels lake for scale models and must be increased 5 times to obtain
the full-scale time).
The position of PP is shown as a % of the ship length, starting from the bow. The
position is positive if it is behind the bow, and negative if it is in front of the bow (i.e.
outside the ship).

PP is 33% from bow if drift angle


(of ship centre point) is around 5
PP is in front of bow if drift > 15
PP is on ship centre point if drift = 0
PP can be behind the stern (> 100%)
if drift < 0(e.g. with tug action)

Drift angle ()

Various conclusions can be drawn from these perfect world simulations


(circle diameter 4 SL sailed at approx. 4.5 kn):
30
20
10
0
50

25

0
-25
PP Position (%)

-50

NB: the drift angle is obviously a parameter that cannot be chosen freely in the real
world as it results from the combination of all the forces acting on the ship

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On a real turning circle the heading is not completely constant as it undergoes small
variations due to small changes in the forces acting on the ship: local variations in
water depth, variations in distance from the shore line, local currents or wind gusts, etc.
The result of this is that PP moves quite a lot, even after some filtering of signals is
applied.
Nevertheless, PP is nicely located around 25-35% for most of the time.
Exactly as seafarers would expect.

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In an accelerating turn, the ship is started with full rpm and full rudder. Observations
show that the ship moves on a kind of spiral track as shown above, reaching a speed of
nearly 6 knots after about 2 minutes (10 minutes real time).
PP is expected to be at the centre of the ship (50% from the bow) during the first stage
of the manoeuvre, as this would correspond to the ship turning around her own centre
before any speed ahead is made. This can be seen above on the left-hand side (40 to
45%).
After a short time, PP moves to a fairly steady position around 35% from the bow.
To conclude this innovative, pragmatic work, it might be said that we are now able to
compute the position of PP from a given track at any time. It will enable us to check
whether the seafarers feeling is in agreement with the calculated position. However, it
will probably not change the way seafarers handle ships because it may never be
possible to predict the position of PP on a real ship since it is a result of all the forces
that are going to act on the ship in the very near future.

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