Ocean test facilities

The ocean test facilities at Centrale Nantes are amongst the largest in Europe.

Experiments carried out in the testing tanks allow different structures to be tested in their environment of use - river or sea. The structures studied range from fishing vessels, to ships, to equipment linked to marine renewable energies such as wind turbines, floating turbines, tidal turbines or wave power systems.

A team of 12 people attached to the LHEEA Laboratory (Hydrodynamics, Energetics and Atmospheric Environment) is tasked with supporting the research activities by designing and carrying out tests using these facilities.

The facilities comprise four tanks:

TOWING TANK: second largest in France, largest in an academic environment

  • 140 m long
  • 5 m wide
  • 3 m deep
  • 2100m3 of water
It is equipped with a towing carriage, which has a top speed of 8m/s, and with a wave maker, which generates regular unidirectional waves.

What is it used for?
  • study of ships in still waters and in sea-swell
  • testing the motion resistance of ships with and without swell
  • hull optimisation, seakeeping and stability of ships and floating structures
  • testing Marine Renewable Energy technologies

HYDRODYNAMIC AND OCEAN ENGINEERING TANK: the largest in France for this kind of testing

  • 50 m long
  • 30 m wide
  • 5 m deep
  • Central shaft measuring 5 m by 5 m and 10m deep.
  • 7000m3 of water

The tank is equipped with a segmented wave maker, composed of 48 hinged flaps which generate directional waves. It can produce regular waves up to 1m in height and irregular waves up to 0.8m high. Higher waves (up to nearly 2m) can be generated with a spatial or temporal focus of the wave energy. A wind generator producing an air flow of 3m by 3m with speeds up to 15m/s can be positioned over the tank.

What is it used for?
  • Study of deep water offshore systems
  • Seakeeping trials for ships and ship manoeuvrability in swell.
  • Study of the performance of wave power systems and floating windturbines, on scales varying between 1:5 to 1:50, under operational and extreme conditions.
  • Survival study and anchoring analysis
  • Wave and wind interaction on fixed and moored structures

Evaluating the performance of Marine Renewable Energy systems has gained momentum in recent years and is now conducted on the same scale as ship or offshore structure testing.


  • 20 m long
  • 9.5 m wide
  • 1 m deep
  • 350m3 of water

Two movable motorised footbridges are suspended over the tank to enable the installation of equipment and material. The tank is also equipped with a flap-type wavemaker to generate monodirectional waves. The tank is used to study support structures for offshore wind turbines.


  • 10 m long
  • 2m wide
  • 1.1 m deep
  • 300m3 water
The recirculating canal is used to study marine propulsion systems, tidal turbines and stationary flows.
Published on March 21, 2017 Updated on April 22, 2024