In extreme weather conditions, thrusters on ships and rigs may be subject to severe thrust losses caused by ventilation and in-and-out-of-water events. When a thruster ventilates, air is sucked down from the surface and into the propeller. In more severe cases, parts of or even the whole propeller can be out of the water. These losses vary rapidly with time and cause increased wear and tear in addition to reduced thruster performance. In this paper, a thrust allocation strategy is proposed to reduce the effects of thrust losses and to reduce the possibility of multiple ventilation events. This thrust allocation strategy is named antispin thrust allocation, based on the analogous behavior of antispin wheel control of cars. The proposed thrust allocation strategy is important for improving the life span of the propulsion system and the accuracy of positioning for vessels conducting station keeping in terms of dynamic positioning or thruster-assisted position mooring. Application of this strategy can result in an increase of operational time and, thus, increased profitability. The performance of the proposed allocation strategy is demonstrated with experiments on a model ship.
IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology Vol. 17, Issue 6, p. 1257-1269