Submersion and trimming mechanism of Submarine Technology

  1. All surface ships, as well as surfaced submarines, are in a positively buoyant condition, weighing less than the volume of water they would displace if fully submerged. To submerge hydrostatically, a ship must have negative buoyancy, either by increasing its own weight or decreasing its displacement of water. To control their weight, submarines have ballast tanks, which can hold varying amounts of water and air.
  2. For general submersion or surfacing, submarines use the forward and aft tanks, called Main Ballast Tanks, or MBTs, which are filled with water to submerge or with air to surface. Submerged, MBTs generally remain flooded, which simplifies their design, and on many submarines these tanks are a section of inter-hull space.
  3. For more precise and quick control of depth, submarines use smaller Depth Control Tanks, or DCTs – also called hard tanks, due to their ability to withstand higher pressure. The amount of water in depth control tanks can be controlled to change depth or to maintain a constant depth as outside conditions (chiefly water density) change. Depth control tanks may be located either near the submarine’s center of gravity or separated along the submarine body to prevent affecting trim.
  4. When submerged, the water pressure on a submarine’s hull can reach 4 MPa (580 psi) for steel submarines and up to 10 MPa (1,500 psi) for titanium submarines like K-278 Komsomolets, while interior pressure remains relatively unchanged. This difference results in hull compression, which decreases displacement.
  5. Water density also marginally increases with depth, as the salinity and pressure are higher.[36] This change in density incompletely compensates for hull compression, so buoyancy decreases as depth increases.
  6. A submerged submarine is in an unstable equilibrium, having a tendency to either fall or float to the surface. Keeping a constant depth requires continual operation of either the depth control tanks or control surfaces.[37][38]
  7. Submarines in a neutral buoyancy condition are not intrinsically trim-stable. To maintain desired trim, submarines use forward and aft trim tanks. Pumps can move water between these, changing weight distribution, creating a moment pointing the sub up or down. A similar system is sometimes used to maintain stability.
  8. The hydrostatic effect of variable ballast tanks is not the only way to control the submarine underwater. Hydrodynamic maneuvering is done by several surfaces, which can be moved to create hydrodynamic forces when a submarine moves at sufficient speed.
  9. The stern planes, located near the propeller and normally horizontal, serve the same purpose as the trim tanks, controlling the trim, and are commonly used, while other control surfaces may not be present on many submarines.
  10. The fairwater planes on the sail and/or bow planes on the main body, both also horizontal, are closer to the centre of gravity, and are used to control depth with less effect on the trim.[39]

When a submarine performs an emergency surfacing, all depth and trim methods are used simultaneously, together with propelling the boat upwards. Such surfacing is very quick, so the sub may even partially jump out of the water, potentially damaging submarine systems.