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Seabomb at a recent trial
Seabomb at a recent trial

Internal News - 02 July 2007

Pedal powered submarine does well in international competition

A submarine that runs on pedal power has proved successful at an international competition in the US.

Seven undergraduates from the University of Bath’s Department of Mechanical Engineering built the one-man submarine, called Seabomb, over the past two years as part of their degrees.

The submarine competed against other university and non-university teams at the International Submarine Races, a biennial event held at the US Naval Carderock facility in Bethesda, Maryland.

It achieved a Silver in the Top Speed category for a non-propeller driven one-man sub, reaching a speed of 2.092 knots. It also achieved a Bronze in the Innovation category for its "counter-oscillating fin propulsion system, and modular chassis design".

The team received an Honourable Mention (fourth place) in Overall Performance, which took into account overall quality of craft, its performance, the conduct of the team and team attitude.

The submarine is powered by its pilot’s pedalling, which works fins that move it through the water. It has compressed air cylinders to allow him to breathe and a buoyancy control to keep its depth in water.

The submarine, built by the Bath University Submarine Racing Team (BURST), was Britain’s only entry. The BURST submarine, which is about three metres long and one metre wide, cost almost £3,000 to put together.

“After all was said and done, we fielded the third fastest human-powered, biomimetic submarine ever to race, anywhere in the world,” said Dr William Megill, a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering. “The team have worked incredibly hard, and are delighted with their result.”