Vosper Thornycroft (UK) Ltd: Gas-Turbine-Powered Fast Patrol Boats
Vosper Thornycroft won the Queen’s Award to Industry in 1966 for its development of gas-turbine powered fast patrol boats (FPBs). This award, which was conferred just after the Portsmouth-based firm of Vosper had taken over John I. Thornycroft of Southampton, recognised pre-merger development work undertaken by Vosper Ltd. The FPBs in question represented the culmination of a path of development, on which Vosper first embarked in the 1930s, that aimed to produce small, high-speed warships. Such craft could attack larger ships and then use their speed to escape before the target could bring its defences to bear. Vosper’s innovative use of gas-turbines in FPBs, coupled with a range of general design features oriented towards achieving high speeds, was intended to exploit this principle of ‘strike and retreat’ to the full. With top speeds in excess of 50 knots these FPBs were among the fastest warships ever built.
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- 1.A comprehensive source of information relating to the development of Vosper Thorneycroft is presented in: C. Dawson, ‘A Quest for Speed at Sea’ (Hutchinson, 1972).Google Scholar
- 2.Cavitation is the formulation of vapour- or gas-filled cavities in liquids by mechanical forces. The formation of these cavities requires a considerable amount of energy which, when releaased (as the cavities close), can cause noise, reduced efficiency of the mechanical device involved, vibration and damage to surfaces. Supercavitating propellers avoid these problems by turning sufficiently fast to cause cavities that do not close until they are well away from the actual blades of the propellor.Google Scholar