The Hamburg Ship Model Basin

Driving excellence for the maritime future

Hamburg as the largest German port with its impressive cluster of prestigious shipping lines and shipyards finally became the location of the leading German ship model basin.

The new facility, the Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA), was established on the occasion of the first shareholders’ meeting on 7 June 1913 as a GmbH (private company) as the world's largest facility of its kind. The shareholders comprised a total of 16 German shipyards as well as the Hamburg-based shipping lines Deutsch-Austral, DDG Kosmos, Deutsche Ost-Afrika-Linie, Hapag, Hamburg-Süd and Woermann. Since that time, the private and independent Hamburg Ship Model Basin HSVA has been at the forefront of hydrodynamic research. HSVA has influenced and led developments of testing technology, methods, standardization and numerical procedures to solve complex problems.

In contrast to the institutes in Dresden and Berlin, which had been promoted by inland shipping and the navy, the HSVA owed its creation to German ocean merchant shipping and the shipbuilding industry. Unlike the short-lived Bremerhaven facility backed only by one German major shipping line, the model basin in Hamburg enjoyed more broadly based support.

Testing activities commenced in 1915 with resistance test for submarines of the Imperial German navy. A constantly increasing amount of testing work – initially unaffected by the world economic crisis following ≫Black Friday≪ in 1929 – led in 1930 to the construction of a special model basin (320 x 5 x 2.5 m) for hydroplanes and aircraft floats, which could be tested with a high speed of max. 20 m/sec. During that time many tests were carried out for the fast ocean liners like the EUROPA and the BREMEN. Additionally studies on the ship hull form (1931), on propeller cavitation (1933) as well as on wake measurements (1935/36) were carried out for the French fast steamship ≫Normandie≪ (1935).

In 1932, HSVA's director Dr. Kempf initiated an international conference on "Hydrodynamic Problems of Ship Propulsion", which later became the International Towing Tank Conference ITTC.

After the war HSVA was dismantled and partially destroyed.

HSVA was rebuilt in today's location a few hundred meters away from the old HSVA, in 1952; testing started in 1953. The facilities have been continuously expanded and improved.. Unique features of HSVA are the large towing tank with a side wave generator,the Computerized Planar Motion Carriage (CPMC) which guarantees unsurpassed precision in model maneuvering, the Large Ice Tank- the only ice tank with a wave generator worldwide, and the large cavitation tunnel HYKAT.

With the cuts in research funding in the 1990s, HSVA had to change from being a non-profit institution and become a much more commercially oriented service company. That this transformation has succeeded is shown in an exemplary way by the continuous flow in orders from outside Germany, especially in the last ten years.

read more PPT FR 100 Jahre (pdf)


Milestones in HSVA’s history


First Initiative for a non-military model basin


Foundation of HSVA


Building the first towing tanks


Start model testing


Building an additional FAST towing tank (320x5x2.5 m, 20 m/s


Building of the 1st Cavitation Tunnel acc. to H. Lerbs’ design


Installation of an office for full scale data from ships in service


First ideas of a large Cavitation Tunnel; START CONSTRUCTION


Extension of the large tank to 440m (carriage 100ts 2000PS)


Maneuvering basin extended to 100m diameter


End of work and demolition of all facilities


Restart of model testing in the small towing tank (80x5x3m)


main building, carriage, small cavitation tunnel ( test section 0,3x0,3 m)


Building the large towing tank and carriage (200x18x6 m)


1st Ice tank


1st wave generator plunger type


Building the 2nd Cavitation tunnel (circular cross section d= 0,75m, 20m/s )


Extension of the large towing tank to 300m length


Building of the 3rd Cavitation Tunnel (cross section 0,57 x 0,57 m, 10 m/s)


Building the 2nd Ice/environmental test basin


Starting tests with the CPMC (Computerized Planar motion Carriage)


Two Flap wave generator for the large towing tank


Building the 3rd large Ice tank


Building the 4th Cavitation tunnel HYKAT (test section 11x2,8x1,6m /12,6m/s)


Upgrade of the main carriage


Installation of the 1st side wave generator (demonstrator) in a towing tank


Installation of the 1st wave generator in an ice tank

100 years HSVA