The effect of flow stratification on ship performance: a numerical study

Patrick Reid, Momchil Terziev, Tahsin Tezdogan, Atilla Incecik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Under certain conditions a body of water can stratify into two distinct layers. If a layer of low-density water settles on top of higher density water, such as fresh water melting from a glacier and settling on top of colder seawater, a stable stratification can occur. A vessel advancing in such a stratified fluid can generate internal waves between these layers. The generation of internal waves requires energy and thus increases the resistance experienced by the vessel, a phenomenon known as the dead water effect which can result in a severe reduction in speed and loss of steering power. This study uses Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to investigate the increase in ship resistance caused by the dead water effect. The results show that the presence of a stratified flow can increase total resistance approximately sixfold in extreme conditions. At standard operating conditions, total resistance may increase by approximately 6% as a result of flow stratification.
Original languageEnglish
JournalShips and Offshore Structures
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Nov 2023


  • dead water
  • flow stratification
  • ship resistance
  • CFD


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