Douglas Webb & Henry Stommel







Conceived by Douglas C. Webb and supported by Henry Stommel and others, the class of Slocum Gliders is named after Joshua Slocum, the first man to single-handedly sail around the world.



The Slocum Glider is a uniquely mobile network component capable of moving to specific locations and depths and occupying controlled spatial and temporal grids. Driven in a sawtooth vertical profile by variable buoyancy, the glider moves both horizontally and vertically.

The long-range and duration capabilities of Slocum gliders make them ideally suited for subsurface sampling at the regional scale. Carrying a wide variety of sensors, they can be programmed to patrol for weeks at a time, surfacing to transmit their data to shore while downloading new instructions at regular intervals, realizing a substantial cost savings compared to traditional surface ships.

The small relative cost and the ability to operate multiple vehicles with minimal personnel and infrastructure will enable small fleets of gliders to study and map the dynamic (temporal and spatial) features of subsurface coastal waters around the clock and around the calendar.





ABSTRACT - This report presents the design features, computer-simulated and actual field trial gliding and autopilot performance of the first two models in the ongoing evolution of the SLOCUM glider vehicle. The vehicle mission is to gather oceanographic data while performing autonomous, gliding dives to 1800 m depth at typical glide path angles of 45° with the horizontal, and a sink rate of .33 m/sec.

The ascent/descent portions of the dives are driven by the vehicle's ability to slightly (typ IIOO g) change its net buoyancy at the inflection points of the dive. The energy to power these buoyancy changes will eventually be provided at zero on-board energy cost by a heat engine that exploits the ocean's thermal gradient between the warm surface and cold deep layers of the ocean. The first two units described in this report employed mechanical, energy consuming means of buoyancy change.




The glider is a faired cylinder with fixed vertical and horizontal wings at the aft end. These provide gliding lift as well as stability and steering moments. The cylindrical fuselage also provides some lift. The vehicle pitch angle is changed by longitudinal movement of an internal weight. The vehicle roll angle is changed by rotation about the vehicle centerline of the same radially aSYIDIDetric, internal, moveable. weight ..-.This causes the fixed rotate and produce a net lateral yawing moment due-to their vertical/horizontal aSYIDIDetry; as a result, the vehicle changes its heading. Once per day, the vehicle will assume a vertical, antenna-up position at the surface and - eventually engage in two-way satellite communication. This maneuver is accomplished by activating approximately 0.7 liter of additional surface buoyancy in the vehicle nose and by movement of the vehicle's center of gravity aft-ward and on-centerline. Power to activate the surface buoyancy will be provided at no on-board energy cost by a second heat engine. This engine will operate on a different thermodynamic cycle than the drive buoyancy engine. The long-term deployment target is 5 years.


A basic description of the design features and field trial environment of the first two glider models follows:















Solarnavigator is a battery electric ASV (Autonomous Solar Vessel), a trimaran with an extremely 

efficient active hull that runs on solar power = energy from nature. This hull form has never been

attempted before, nor has the use of wind energy been used in such manner for crew comfort 

(or complete onboard autonomy). A fleet of such vessels could be the basis of an international peacekeeping, and/or emergency rescue force.




Project Objectives


Galley | Paints | Screens | Diving

Project Estimates | Record Attempt | PR Events

Batteries | Alloys | Timber | Composites | Navigation | Hydraulics

Motors | Electronics | Solar Panels | Propeller | Transmission | Tooling | Life Support

Tank Testing (Model Construction) & Results



   Kulo Luna, a John Storm adventure featuring the Solarnavigator, by Jameson Hunter  Cyber Wars, an adventure story (book) featuring John Storm and the Solar Navigator by Jameson Hunter  Terrorists steal an Astute Class nuclear submarine and set about destabilising the world economy


The design of the Solar Navigator boat has been licensed for use in

the John Storm series of books by Jameson Hunter



This website is copyright © 1991- 2012 Electrick Publications. All rights reserved. The bird logo and names Solar Navigator and Blueplanet Ecostar are trademarks ™.  The Blueplanet vehicle configuration is registered ®.  All other trademarks hereby acknowledged and please note that this project should not be confused with the Australian: 'World Solar Challenge'™which is a superb road vehicle endurance race from Darwin to Adelaide.  Max Energy Limited is an educational charity working hard to promote world peace.