OHMSETT, A Hidden Technical Asset

Maritime is too easily defined as ships passing in the night, and most of our maritime lives we work to make sense of the darkness. Sometimes you know the ship is there, but since it does not appear to be a danger you don’t pay attention.

In many ways that is poor form. There is nothing wrong with getting familiar with the ship that is passing peacefully by and exchange a few words. Sometimes it even turns out a family member is aboard.

Martin & Ottaway moved to Monmouth County in 1995 and, even before that, we were vaguely aware that Earle Weapon Center (which is only a few miles away) also is the home for OHMSETT.


I even remember finding out that one of my colleagues at MAR Inc was managing the facility and we made a vague promise to get together sometime and nothing happened. Then we started the SurfWEC program and when we started thinking about model testing we thought of OHMSETT.

So Mike got in touch with the new managers of OHMSETT, and pretty quickly it became apparent that OHMSETT, was not just a suitable facility, it may well be the perfect facility for testing SurfWEC.

We could not believe our good luck (since most tank testing includes murderous logistics) and we wanted to make sure we were not deluding ourselves, so we decided on a mini roadtrip (all of a 20 minute drive from our office). Peter did not want to miss out either and Mike even invited his friend and former colleague Dr. Rich Sheryll from Stevens (presently Cyclops), who is also an ocean equipment/tank test maven.

We filled out our security forms, and met with Alan Guarino and Leonard Zabilansky at the facility and received the tour.

Between Mike, Rich and I, we have seen and worked in quite a number of model basins, but OHMSETT is the real steampunk version of a tank test facility. Not super sleek, but oh so useful for testing marine gadgets, whether it leaks oil, picks up oil, moves through the water up to 6.5 knots, moves in waves or harvests waves, chances are that using this tank will make any engineer smarter and more confident in their designs.

This tank is not for fine calibration and super accurate drag measurements (after all, it is an open air tank), instead it exists to simulate the real world, and often that is what is really needed before we go down too deep into the engineering rabbit hole.


Not too long from now I hope to get in my car one early morning, drive for 15 minutes, get a cup of coffee (Quick Stop) and porkroll and egg on a roll along the way and ride the carriage to become a little smarter.