Ship design involves thousands of details

How do you verify ship motion performance as early in your project as possible?

Juggling requirements for components, weight distribution, materials, layout, accommodations, electrical and IT systems, and power systems make ship design a challenging endeavor. Adding ship motion requirements to the mix takes it one step further.

Yet the ship’s performance at sea is a complex function of all the particulars of the design

The customer is waiting with their list of requirements to check off in terms of motion performance at sea, turning capabilities, and more. So how do you verify performance and increase the chances of a design that meets and beats those requirements?

Tank testing is the most accurate, but it’s a slow and expensive prospect. A detailed CFD study is more cost-effective than tank testing, but can still be far too time-consuming to complete many different variations in the ship design. But CFD is not the only software technique available in ship motion analysis.

What’s needed is easy-to-use ship motion analysis software tools that are flexible enough in the early stages of ship design

At this stage, the hull is conceptualized but not necessarily all the fine details. Software like this must quickly resolve ship motion across a range of sea states and maneuvers. This seakeeping and maneuvering software is even better if you can make design changes and see what happens quickly. It’s got to be easy to use, so you can get up and running quickly, especially if you don’t use the software every day.

The ShipMo3D toolset brings purpose-built seakeeping and maneuvering capabilities to ProteusDS

These tools gives a clear picture of ship motion performance based on all fundamental ship parameters, like hull geometry, appendages, propeller details, and inertia. The ShipMo3D toolset helps you evaluate ship forward speed motion in any sea state using a consistent and standardized process.

Features and benefits

Rapidly evaluate seakeeping ship motion response. Ship design projects have a million details that all interact with each other. It can take time to unwind how all these factors affect ship performance. Use ShipMo3D’s frequency-domain seakeeping analysis to rapidly calculate specific ship design performance across a broad range of sea conditions and forward speeds. This rapid feedback helps you quickly cut through the confusion and incrementally improve the ship design.

Calculate acceleration at any location on the vessel. Acceleration is the primary factor in establishing the effects on crew and equipment. But ship motion can result in complex changes in acceleration through the entire hull. Spot-check detailed statistics on accelerations anywhere on the ship as it moves in a seaway using ShipMo3D’s virtual probes called Seakeeping Positions.

Verify ship motion maneuvering response. Ship maneuvers, like the zig-zag test, require varying commands based on the ship condition over time. ShipMo3D’s time domain maneuvering tools allow ship designers to explore and verify the control of ships. Explore maneuver control capabilities of the rudder, propulsion, and turning performance.

Assess maneuvering in a seaway. Ship response is complex while maneuvering through a seaway. A time domain capability that integrates a seaway with maneuvering is needed to understand a complete picture of ship motion. Explore the combined seakeeping and maneuvering capabilities, including nonlinear buoyancy and wave excitation, to see the changes in ship maneuvering response in severe sea states.

Forget limiting hull form factors. Accuracy of strip theory tools break down with squat or awkward-shaped hulls. ShipMo3D is based on 3D potential code to address any midline-symmetric mono or multi-hull vessel.

Use hydrodynamic calculations that account for forward speed. Hydrodynamic parameters like diffraction and radiation can be sensitive to the forward speed of a hull in the water. Without accounting for the effects of forward speed, errors and uncertainty start to grow in the forces and motions. ShipMo3D uses hydrodynamic effects, including diffraction and radiation, that account for the effects of forward speed of the hull.

Compute performance of active stabilizer fins. Active stabilizer can have a large impact on controlling ship motion, but only when sized correctly. Evaluate performance yourself using different foil sizes. Rapidly check the effect of ship motion with and without active stabilizer fins to illustrate the potential for improved performance at sea and during maneuvers.

Easily apply commonly used hull appendages. Hull appendages are small but can have a big impact on ship motion response. Use ShipMo3D’s ship model construction interface to easily define commonly used hull appendages, like bilge keels, skegs, and more.


at full scale

Ship motion software needs concrete validation to be trusted. In 1998, the Canadian Navy measured sea state and full-scale ship motion of the HMCS Nipigon in a wide range of speeds and directions. The data from this is used to validate new versions of ShipMo3D on an ongoing basis.

Dig in to the details of ship motion analysis:

  • Resolve hydrodynamic response of symmetric hulls of any aspect ratio or shape
  • Automatically resolve wet and dry numerical hull mesh from displacement and trim
  • Verify the fully assembled virtual ship hull with appendage models using built-in 3D viewer
  • Capture the effects of forward ship speed on wave excitation and radiation
  • Capture the effect of changing wetted hull area in extreme seas with time domain nonlinear buoyancy and wave excitation
  • Easily calculate and view ship motion RAO in different combinations of forward speed, wave heading, and frequency
  • Maintain heading with active rudder control
  • Control specific course with combined active rudder sway and heading control
  • Schedule maneuver commands at stage points in time
  • Automate reporting of common performance metrics like Motion-Induced Interruption and Sea Sickness Index


Sean Quigley, Senior Naval Architect

Thor Solutions, Washington DC, USA

“The customer support was a great feature about working with ProteusDS. The ability to ask questions and get help on how to go about solving specific seakeeping problems was incredibly beneficial.”

The software met all our requirements running seakeeping and maneuvering studies. But the biggest concern we had was about ease of use of the software and how quickly we could import the 3D hull model. What we found was ProteusDS was user-friendly and the DSA Ocean staff worked with me to ensure the model imported properly and accurately.

The ability to run seakeeping runs at multiple locations, speeds, and headings greatly reduced time it took to understand the responses and write reports. What we liked the most was the ability to show visuals of the maneuvering commands. The graphics of the vessel performing the maneuvering commands make great additions to our reports. Also, the ability to use active and passive fin stabilizers to understand the different roll responses and show the increased dampening effects was very useful. 

The customer support was a great feature about working with the software. The ability to ask questions and get help on how to go about solving specific seakeeping problems was incredibly beneficial.

I would recommend ProteusDS to anyone needing to model a 3D vessel and perform seakeeping studies to understand the responses that can be expected on your vessel and see it maneuvers in various sea states.

Chanse M. Riess, Naval Architect

TAI Engineers, LA, USA

“We found that we were able to quickly analyze ship maneuverability. This allowed us to confirm that the ship would pass requirements put forth by ABS and IMO…”

If ShipMo3D only provided maneuvering calculations, it would be harder to justify the price. The program has a lot more features which we have not begun to look at in depth but think will help our engineering team on future projects.

We found that we were able to quickly analyze ship maneuverability. This allowed us to confirm that the ship would pass requirements put forth by ABS and IMO, as well as to get turn rating such as rate of turning ability as defined in ABS’ Guide for Vessel Maneuverability.

Being able to model Azimuthing propulsors as well as Traditional rudders when analyzing Maneuverability in FreeMo was a huge advantage. This allowed us to compare characteristics between a traditional rudder design and that of an azimuthing propulsor design.

Working with DSA Ocean staff to support ShipMo3D has been a real pleasure. They respond to all questions and concerns in a timely manner and they take the time to walk the user through any problems that might arise.  Additionally, the online tutorials are a huge help and provide the knowledge needed to get working in the program.

I would recommend ShipMo3D as it provides a user friendly interface with a relatively easy learning curve.

Aaron Tam, Naval Architect


“The validation from the documentation of the software seemed strong, but the vessels used in the validation differ from the ships we typically work with.”

The main concern we had was regarding the accuracy of the results, particularly looking at full and model scale validation. ShipMo3D is slightly intricate to get working as intended but after a good amount of time and experimenting, I was able to get the hang of it and help provide data in different forms of analysis needed for different projects.

The validation from the documentation of the software seemed strong, but the vessels used in the validation differ from the ships we typically work with. Our own validation for both seakeeping and maneuvering from known model and full scale tests from our end was mixed, but the software was able to give some level of confidence mainly on the seakeeping end. The maneuvering capabilities seems mainly suitable for shaft line propulsion and I would still be interested in more validation of the software, especially with podded propulsion.

My favorite feature is the capacity to directly import model meshes into the software that eased the process of new runs and rapid development alongside our hull form development. The large sets of appendages provide great benefits for more complex hulls. The large options of outputs and visualizations also help considerably in double checking runs, too.

One of the other greatest benefits would be the excellent customer service and support that is quick to reply. I have spent many days back and forth with ShipMo3D, with quick and patient help from those at DSA Ocean to help me get well acquainted with it.

While I am interested in more validation of the software and continual improvements for new features and refinements, I would recommend it for the core seakeeping capabilities of the software in its capabilities of using Green’s theorem.

Fédéric Neuman, Ingénieur Architecte Naval

Neuman – Ingénierie Architecture Navale, Saint-Nazaire, France

“Out of all of our projects, few are those where the seaworthiness aspect is predominant. So we generally manage without this type of software.”

Our agency designs three to four different ships per year. On each of them, we manage all the issues related to naval architecture. Out of all of our projects, few are those where the seaworthiness aspect is predominant. So we generally manage without this type of software. The main obstacle, in this context, would be the cost of software that is new to our business and the training time. We took advantage of a project where ship motion analysis was predominant to overcome these two obstacles.

We found the price was affordable and the training time was short. The results suit us. We now hope to have other projects or work on this aspect of the job and manage to sell services with this tool.

We found ShipMo3D useful in the early stage of the project. It allows us to have a rapid overview of seakeeping on our project. Its simplicity of use allows us to compare several hulls on their hydrodynamic response and choose the best one.

I would recommend ShipMo3D. It is easy to use and quick to learn and is an essential tool in the early stage of our projects.

Brian Boudreau, Marine Engineer

DeJong & Lebet Naval Architects, FL, USA

“Our project’s time constraints required a rapid simulation…”

We needed results and output from a seakeeping program in forms that were understandable and easy to interpret and graph. Our project’s time constraints required a rapid simulation with reasonable results.

I like the ease of bringing in a custom mesh for the hull. This made it easy to build the model from an existing file and was a tremendous help.

ShipMo3D allowed me to identify issues with the model that gave me time to go back and adjust prior to progressing with the design. Having time to read the results and clean up the presentation was very important.

Having a seakeeping analysis tool in-house is a great benefit. The outputs from ShipMo3D give us control over data presentation and output that we can include in an appendix for documentation.

ShipMo3D was relatively easy to operate with distinguishable output. Overall, I was very satisfied with the program.

Robert Lanoue, Senior Engineer

General Dynamics NASSCO, CA, USA

“...we are a defense contractor in the US. We have significant cyber security requirements that took some time to work through to use commercial software…”

We had a seakeeping software in house that we were happy with for strip theory solutions. The majority of our contracts only required strip theory validation for seakeeping. But recently, some study and concept design contracts were coming through that required a panel code software for seakeeping analysis. We had one panel code software program that was available to us, but it was too cumbersome to use, also only operating in the time domain, led to long and complex analysis. ShipMo3D offered a panel theory code which operated in the frequency and time domain. It was the best of both worlds!

But an obstacle we faced was the fact that we are a defense contractor in the US. We have significant cyber security requirements that took some time to work through to use commercial software like ShipMo3D, but we were able to get there in the end.

We found ShipMo3D had an easy to use interface that worked well for standard preliminary design seakeeping analysis. It was only slightly more complex than a strip theory tool, but at a higher level of accuracy. I would recommend ShipMo3D as it is great value with highly customizable inputs and a good customer support team.

Scott Newbury, Naval Architect and Hydrodynamicist

Robert Allan Ltd, BC, Canada

“We find the numerous roll reduction models of particular use for the evaluation of anti-roll devices”

At Robert Allan Ltd., ProteusDS and the ShipMo3D toolset is valuable for the prediction of ship motions and seakeeping performance. It is quick and easy to set up an analysis for preliminary predictions; while subsequent customization allows complexity to be added as the design of the vessel progresses, increasing the accuracy of the seakeeping predictions. We find the numerous roll reduction models of particular use for the evaluation of anti-roll devices.

The thorough ShipMo3D documentation and the many papers published by Dr. Kevin McTaggart provide transparency in the calculations and numerical methods, and the validation studies instill confidence in the results.

The integration of the ShipMo3D toolset with ProteusDS further opens up possibilities for even more complex seakeeping analysis without the need to replicate fundamental work, streamlining the analysis process. We have no hesitation in recommending ProteusDS and the ShipMo3D toolset.

ShipMo3D toolset


Overview of how the ShipMo3D toolset helps in the ship motion analysis process

What’s inside?

Specify ship hull form using offsets or provide a custom mesh. Boost the quality of hydrodynamics results with automatic waterline mesh refinement.

Calculate ship hydrodynamics and the resulting motion RAO and rms response in a variety of built in or completely custom ocean wave spectrums.

Queue commands to explore zig-zag, turning circle, or completely custom ship maneuvers in calm conditions or any sea state.

Built-in post-processing provides plotting of motion and ship trajectory in specified maneuvers.

Rapidly add commonly used hull appendages like bilge keels, skegs, fins, and active stabilizers. Automatically set roll damping parameters with built-in viscous models for each appendage.

Single Basic

Single Standard


Generate hull form from station-keyed hull lines

Combined time domain seakeeping and maneuvering capability

Nonlinear option for wave excitation and buoyancy in maneuvering response

Antiroll U-tube and slosh tank capabilities

Active stabilizer capability

Heading, course, and forward speed control in maneuvering simulation

Rapid calculation of RAO

Visualization of vessel motion in 3D

Parallel processing capability

Flexible software use on multiple computers






How long does it take to calculate ship motion?

On standard off the shelf computers, the radiation and diffraction pre-computation may take an hour or more. Once the pre-computation is complete, calculating ship motion and maneuvering takes seconds.

Do you offer software training?

Yes, and you have several choices. Use free online and video tutorials combined with live webmeetings to learn elements of the software. A self-guided training option is also available. Work with DSA Ocean engineers through paid support options to accelerate learning and completing a project.

Do I need an engineering degree to use this software?

Basic ship motion analysis is possible with a technical background. For more complex designs and unique applications, it helps to have an engineering background when you need to get into the details.

How do I get help on using the software?

Check out our variety of online and video tutorials here. Contact us for questions on software usage at If you need help with a specific design project, we can create a quote for paid training or consulting services to help you on your way.

Go far.

Go together.

The core hydrodynamics engine of the ShipMo3D toolset is developed and commercialized in partnership with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC). DRDC is Canada’s science and technology innovation leader for defence and security through the Canadian Department of National Defense.

Get a free demo to evaluate ship motion at speed in waves

Apply 7 day fully functional demo of the paid version of ProteusDS and the ShipMo3D toolset. You can use this to learn the software and evaluate how it works to compute ship motion response at forward speed in waves.

Request a demo

What’s different about


When you are lost, a GPS is worth a lot to get you back on track. If you are working alone on a ship motion and hydrodynamics analysis, it’s easy to feel lost. You can feel lost if you are working with a new vessel design you haven’t tried before or don’t have experience with. Or you can feel uncertain if you aren’t sure which direction to take in improving the design.

When you are working with ProteusDS, you always have someone to ask for ideas and help. We work with naval architects around the world and are experts in working with our software. If you are feeling lost, we are here to help give you ideas and find a way to take the next step in your design process.

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