January 30, 2007 Last November we wrote about a extreme experimental boat that had been seen in U.S. waters and at that time, little was known about the amazing spider-like water craft. Now we can lift the lid on the machine, based on an original concept by Ugo Conti of Marine Advanced Research. The appropriately named Proteus (Proteus was an early sea-god capable of changing shape and assuming many forms) is the first of a new class of watercraft based on a patented technology that delivers a radically different seagoing experience. Wave Adaptive Modular Vessels (WAM-V) are ultralight flexible catamarans modularly designed to allow for a variety of applications and to fit the requirements of specific users, missions or projects. Unlike conventional boats that force the water to conform to the their hulls, the WAM-V adjusts to the surface of the sea, with the superstructure flexibly connected to specially designed pontoons by several components that actually move in relation to one another. Springs, shock absorbers and ball joint articulate the vessel and mitigate stresses to structure, payload and crew. Two engine pods, containing the propulsion and ancillary systems, are fastened to the hulls with special hinges that keep the propellers in the water at all times. The modularity of a WAM-V allows the payload to be switched with a different one in less than an hour. In most versions, the payload is a self-contained craft that can lower to the surface, detach and operate under its own power. The switchable payload module effectively changes the WAM-V into an entirely different craft in less than an hour. Some examples of possible payload modules include a luxury cabin for two, cruising accommodations for six passengers, twelve passenger transport, a scuba diving platform or an emergency response unit.
The engine pods are mechanically separate from the main hulls and can be switched to other pods with a different propulsion system. Alternatively, two sets of identical engine pods keep the vessel operational at all times, even when engines have to be serviced or repaired.
The WAM-V can be built in different lengths to match specific applications; can be custom designed and built for easy disassembly so that all parts can fit into standard containers.
The WAM-V has ocean-crossing capabilities with a range of up to 5,000 miles. Very low fuel consumption, low draft, minimal wake even at high speed and soft hulls make the WAM-V technology environmentally friendly.