The turbulent flow field developed behind ship propellers has the potential to erode the alluvial bed of navigable rivers, waterways and coastal harbors, causing damage to the bed morphology and to quay structures. The increase in size and power of ship propulsion systems during the last decades has lead to larger hydraulic loads on the port facilities, which increase the erosion potential and risk of failure of submerged structures. The aim of this project is to develop new approaches to assess the interaction between ships and port facilities, for accurately anticipating and counteracting erosion damages.

propeller jets’ velocity field

This includes the determination of the propeller slipstream propagation characteristics and the associated scour phenomena when the propeller jet impacts on quay walls and granular bottoms. The research will establish a solid basis for developing a design formula to estimate the external loads and scour potential on port structures.

The project considers measurements in field, laboratory experiments, and numerical simulations. The Division of Hydraulic Engineering and River Morphology of the Leichtweiß-Institute will instrument a harbour in the Port of Lübeck to characterize hydrodynamic loads, bed scour and noise induced by manoeuvering vessels. A physical scale model of the port facilities will be constructed in the Hydraulics Laboratory of the Leichtweiß-Institute to study in detail, with the aid of ship models, time dependent scour development, the velocity field of propeller jets and pressure loads on quay walls. Field and experimental results will be complemented by numerical simulations of the propeller jets’ velocity fields, performed by the Institute for Fluid Dynamics and Ship Theory of the TU-Hamburg. By including the simulations, the experimental measured morphological changes, scour phenomena and their development can be better understood and the effects of different propulsion systems on the formation of scour in the harbour area can be investigated.

Staff Members

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jochen Aberle (project leader)
Dr. Francisco Núñez-González (researcher)


  • Aberle, J., Söhngen, B. (2008). Analysis of propeller jet induced scours. Proc. Int. Conf. on Fluvial Hydraulics River Flow 2008, 3-5 September 2008, Cesme, Turkey. Edited by M. Altinakar, M.A. Kokpinar, Aydin, I., Cokgor, S., and S. Kirkgoz, Kubaba, Vol. 3, pp. 1991-2000.
  • Geisenhainer, P., Aberle, J. (2013). Scale model study of propeller induced scour development. In Springer Series: GeoPlanet: Earth and Planetary Sciences Series, Experimental and Computational Solutions of Hydraulic Problems, 119-131, doi:10.1007/978-3-642-30209-1_7
  • Niewerth, S., Núñez-González, F., Llull, T., Lempa, S. (2021) A novel shear plate for direct measurements of bottom shear stress induced by a model ship propeller. Webinar on Experimental Methods and Laboratory Instrumentation in Hydraulics April 13-15, 2021, Publications of the Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Núñez-González, F., Koll, K., Söhngen, B., Spitzer, D. (2017) Scour geometry and flow velocities induced by an experimental ship propeller jet. In River Sedimentation: Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium on River Sedimentation (Stuttgart, Germany, 19-22 September, 2016), CRC Press, 1229-1236.
  • Núñez-González, F., Koll, K., Spitzer, D. (2018). Experimental study of the velocity field induced by a propeller jet in an inland ship model and the related bed scour. In E3S Web of Conferences (Vol. 40, p. 03029). EDP Sciences