bulbous bow

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A rounded underwater projection forward of the ship's stem, which has been fitted on most seagoing ships, from cruise liners to tankers to fishing boats, since the 1960s. The object of the bulbous bow is to create a wave pattern which in perfect conditions neutralizes the one generated by the ship's hull, enabling it to leave a smooth wake and consequently make significant fuel savings. This phenomenon was first investigated by Lord Kelvin (see Thomson, William) and William Froude in the 19th century after observing that in certain conditions, the ram bow of a warship reduced fuel consumption. For illus. see trawler.

Fred M. Walker

Subjects: Maritime History.

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