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The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Centre for Offshore Research & Engineering (CORE) presents the Maritime Technology Professorship Lecture at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The Maritime Technology Professorship Lecture will be delivered by Professor Paul H. Taylor, Maritime Technology Professor, NUS and Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford. The title of his lecture is “Giant Waves on the Open Sea: Mariners’ Tall Tales or Alarming Fact?”

Cinemagoers as well as professional surfers will be familiar with the thrill of giant waves. But what most people don’t know is that the film ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ is based on an incident involving the Queen Mary in WWII. The famous liner was hit by a giant ‘wall of water’ while she was carrying 15,000 American troops to Britain in 1942, listed to an astonishing 52° and almost capsized. More recently, some may recall the book and film, ‘The Perfect Storm’, documenting the events surrounding the sinking of the fishing boat the Andrea Gail south of Newfoundland in 1991.

Waves have been a source of fascination ever since mankind first gazed at the ocean. The sea has been a favourite subject for many artists over the centuries. The famous 19th century English artist J.M. Turner painted many storm scenes including the Bell Rock Lighthouse, of considerable engineering interest and with a connection to Robert Louis Stevenson of Treasure Island fame. The print ‘In the Hollow of a Wave off the Coast at Kanagawa’ by the Japanese artist Hokusai is now almost as well known as the smile of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa.

The open ocean during severe storms is an unpleasant and dangerous place to be! A range of examples will be discussed, ranging from the unfortunate habit of the Cunard Queens to encounter giant waves and the loss of the German container ship München in 1978 to the risks taken by ocean racing yachts. Even Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail single handed around the world in the late 19th century, describes meeting a giant wave off the coast of Patagonia. In fact there are remarkable similarities between the various accounts of seafarers’ encounters with giant waves – walls of water, a hole in the ocean, a train of rollers….

What does modern research have to say about such descriptions? Such waves are thought to be very rare but just how rare? What physics drives such waves? Is a ‘wall of water’ plausible? Giant waves can have disastrous consequences even for the largest ships and offshore structures. And how should engineers design structures to survive rare but potentially catastrophic events?

About the Speaker
Paul Taylor is Professor of Engineering Science and a Fellow and Sub-Warden of Keble College at the University of Oxford. A graduate of Cambridge University, he was appointed to Oxford in 1997 after a long period in industry with Shell, both in the UK and The Netherlands, working on safety related issues in petro-chemical plant and then offshore engineering. His current research interests include dynamics and statistics of ocean waves and fluidstructure interactions, and the history of structural engineering.

As a small boy he greatly enjoyed building sandcastles on the beach during summer holidays and would then watch the waves knock them down. He has now converted this early amateur interest in engineering into a research career. Since moving to Oxford he has jointly managed the Ocean Engineering and Dynamics Group in the Department of Engineering Science. He has authored and co-authored about 150 journal and conference papers, and has supervised and co-supervised to successful completion more than 20 doctoral students. He is currently a Visiting Professor in Maritime Technology at the National University of Singapore, engaged in research in the Centre for Offshore Research & Engineering.

The Lecture is open to the public and kindly click HERE for registration. Please contact Ms. Norela Buang for further event details.

Additional Details

Contact Person - Ms. Norela Buang

Contact Number - +65 6516 4314

Organizer - MPA, CORE


Date And Time

30 Aug 2013 @ 07:00 PM

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