Meet the WAM-V

Being that I practically grew up on a boat, my heart skipped several beats when I saw this wonderfully bizarre craft: the Proteus, a “WAM-V” which stands for Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel. Looking like something right out of a science fiction movie, Marine Advanced Research, Inc. has developed what they tout as a completely new type of water vessel. That may be so, but I could swear … though I have no proof … that I had a toy that looked almost exactly like this back in the 1970’s.

New or not, it ranks high up on my neat-o-meter…

Now, is it me, or does the way the main arms come down to connect to the pontoons remind you of an automobile windshield wiper? That’s the whole point of this vessel, though. The pontoons inflate, are flexible, and adapt to the waves instead of forcing their way through them. The articulations of the arms facilitate this. WAM-V glides over the water, the pontoons snaking over the waves, zooming along at a good clip while barely making a wake.

The whole craft is modular, and can be made to take apart and fit into standard shipping containers. But also it boasts up to a 5000 mile range so you could conceivably fill it up with gas and just drive it across the ocean.

Another cool feature is that the modular back end can lift and lower to the surface between the pontoons. Which means you can drop a standard boat, or a scientific payload, or a pod of Navy Seals … or James Bond and his latest underwater car … with nary a splash. This makes the WAM-V attractive to both marine researchers and the military. Not to mention Hollywood, because the first thing I thought of was: Movie Prop!

I had two questions about the WAM-V, which Isabella Conti of Marine Advanced Research, Inc. was happy to answer:

GG: Are the inflatable pontoons bullet proof?

Isabella: Proteus’ pontoons are not bullet proof. However, they could be; there is bullet proof material currently available.

GG: What happens if the WAM-V capsizes? Would it continue to float (albeit upside-down)?

Isabella: We don’t believe that this type of craft would capsize. Catamarans capsize when the bow of one of the hulls “catches” under a wave while the rest of the boat continues to move forward. The submersed bow then becomes a “pivot” point that forces the craft to flip on itself. Inflatable pontoons do not “catch”. Have you ever tried to flip over a small inflatable dinghy? You have to literally lift it out of the water and it usually takes two people.  WAM-Vs™ are ultralight so they tend to slide on the back of a wave, just like a small inflatable dinghy would. And yes, assuming that it would capsize in extreme circumstances, it would continue to float.

One thing I forgot to ask, but I’m still pondering … if they call a HUM-V a Hummer, would the WAM-V be a Wammer?

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