Sail vortex of an underwater vehicle

Hydrodynamics of the sail trailing vortex of an underwater vehicle

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

This project will investigate the underlying physics of the sail trailing vortex of an underwater vehicle and its effects on the vehicle’s performance over a range of sail and hull-casing geometries and manoeuvres.

The motivation behind the research project is that the majority of studies have investigated the hydrodynamic coefficients of various vehicle hull shapes and control surfaces for coefficient-based manoeuvring (CBM) models. However, the effects of the vortex systems generated by the vehicle’s appendages are not yet adequately described by CBM models. This project focuses on the trailing vortex system generated by the vehicle’s ‘sail’, which is the source of the stern-dipping phenomena present in underwater vehicles undergoing  manoeuvres in the horizontal plane. The stern-dipping phenomena is important as it has control and dynamic stability impacts on the manoeuvring vehicle. The primary aim of the project is to develop semi-empirical methods to characterise the effect of the sail trailing vortex system for use in  coefficient-based manoeuvring models. This would include, but not be limited to, the development of the vortex system and its effect on the force distribution on the vehicle. This research project is numerical-based. It uses a combination of Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and vortex methods, with experimental validation based on relevant available open literature.

This research is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) and the AMC in developing experimental and CFD capabilities to model submarine hydrodynamics and operations.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Zhi Leong


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional essential eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus
  • Applications are open to Australian Citizens only

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Engineering, physics or mathematics discipline backgrounds

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in CFD and MATLAB; hydrodynamics, manoeuvring and controls knowledge

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Zhi Leong to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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