Knowing the Oceans

The worldfs oceans were born some 300 million years after our planet formed, roughly 4.3 billion years ago. They cover some seventy percent of the planetfs surface, and if all of their water was contained in a pool, that pool would be 2,000km in length and breadth and 337km in depth. At their deepest, the oceans go down to a depth of 11,000m, where an extreme environment of high pressure, low temperatures and utter darkness exists. In recent years, however, as the complexity of life on this planet has continued to become known to us, we have realized that the oceans directly involve humans in terms of the global environment and food supply issues we now face. We have realized the extremely important worth of understanding the oceans in terms of our future. Although humans, compared to 4.3 billion years, have only been on the planet for the briefest time, our approach to the oceans, though in its infancy, is deeply fascinating. The oceans indeed beckon to a true frontier spirit.

Photo by JAMSTEC

Photo by JAMSTEC

Oceans of Canvas

The cruise ships being built today indeed interest. These mighty vessels, weighing more than 100,000 tons, continuously sail the Caribbean and even travel around the entire globe. At Japanfs shipyards, we are also building a 110,000 ton (the largest class) cruise ship for an overseas cruise line. These cruise liners must appeal to people all over the world, and their design becomes a attractive sales point. As such, designers now require a higher level of artistic sensibility. Spaces that conjure a sense of the extraordinary are on view both externally and within the ship, and over the years we can see the varying design trends expressed in the different ships. Putting a ship to sea is akin to placing a brush to vast blue canvas. Shipbuilding is no longer the province of mere functionality; it is the abode of attraction and romance.

Photo by Yoshiho Ikeda

Photo by Odd Faltinsen

Infinite Possibilities

Without marine transport and travel, the social and economic activity of Japan, surrounded as it is by oceans, would be inconceivable. In addition, we are conceiving of floating ocean structures, such as offshore airports and shipping terminals, or bases for resources and energy from the oceansf depths that minimize impact on the environment. And although it is believed that Japanfs future energy supplies will drop off, we believe that we need to search for clean energy sources to replace our dependence on oil and nuclear power, and are exploring ocean-borne wind power stations, ocean temperature differential power, wave and tide turbine power as well as the use of deep sea resources, such as methane hydrate.。

Photo byNational Institute for Environmental Studies

Photo by Mega Float Research Association

Across the Seven Seas

As we look about, how many of the things we see have come from overseas? On our tables, some 60% of the food we eat is imported, and even the foods produced domestically are dependent on imported fertilizers, and the energy to process them is also imported, which pushes the percentage even higher. And not just for food: The energy required for other industries has reached levels of 80% for importation. Ocean-going transport, which brings us necessary resources and energy, is important capital that supports our lifestyle. Although there are no roads or railways on the open seas, in their stead we find a vast array of vessels that continue to sail the seven seas.

Photo by JAMSTEC

Photo by Imabari Shipbuilding Co.,Ltd.

Extremely Energy-efficient Transportation

300,000 ton tankers, filled with crude petroleum at lengths of 300m and breadths of 60m, are driven by 30,000hp engines. This would be equivalent to towing 50 tons of freight with a motorized scooter, which should make you realize how efficient ocean transport is. To realize energy efficiency, however, amid the incredible resistance found when moving through ocean water, the development of low-resistance ship hull forms and ultra-light ship structure and materials, based on leading-edge fluid dynamics and structural/material dynamics were needed. For ships and floating structures that must run for long periods of time, the functionality required matches that of entire cities. As a result, design requires a comprehensive perspective cogitation with an awareness of the roles of various elements in the overall system. This is why a profound knowledge of applied dynamics and a practical engineering sense is needed for naval architecture and ocean engineering.

Photo by Universal Shipbuilding Corporation

Photo by Imabari Shipbuilding Co.,Ltd.

Recommending Oceanography

There is a deep connection between climate change and the oceans, which is where global warming began. Although ocean currents move more smoothly than those of the atmosphere, because they keep vast reserves of heat, ocean currents more directly affect the atmosphere. In addition, when it comes to global warming, it is important to understand the oceans' capacity for CO2 absorption, without which we would be unable to assess the degree to which warming is taking place with any accuracy. As it is therefore so very important to constantly monitor the state of the oceans, it takes enormous amounts of funding to thoroughly monitor something so vast. We are therefore looking to develop low-cost solutions, including unmanned oceanography stations, satellite monitoring and underwater robots.

Photo by JAMSTEC

Photo by JAMSTEC