Evolution of ITTC Technical Committees

David Murdey, June 2014

Early days

From the first Conference in 1933 of what was be to become the ITTC, up until the fifth Conference in 1948, technical sessions were comprised of presentations of papers by individual delegates. The first mention of technical committees is contained in the recommendations following the fifth Conference in 1948 when committees were set up to address Cavitation, Propeller and Skin Friction (later renamed Resistance). Seagoing qualities of ships and Presentation of Resistance and Propulsion Data were added in 1954. The “subjects to be considered by the Conference”, and the corresponding technical committees were chosen by the Standing (Executive) Committee. Technical sessions comprised a summary, usually by the Chairman of the committee and extensive contributions from ITTC members.

1960 to 1993

The five technical committees from 1954 continued through 1960: Resistance, Propulsion, Cavitation, Seakeeping and Presentation (using their modern names) and in 1960 Manoeuvring was added to give a total of six.

1963 saw the approval by the Conference of a “Proposed Organization of the ITTC drafted by the Standing Committee” (later Executive Committee). This document contains a section describing the role and membership of technical committees and is very similar to the corresponding paragraphs in the Rules today. At the 1969 conference in Rome, the ITTC, as a body, authorized the reorganization of the ITTC which resulted in establishment of the Advisory Council in 1972. The prime role of the Advisory Council was (and still is) to recommend to the Executive Committee the subjects to be considered by the Conference. The Advisory Council took an increasingly important role in discussions concerning technical committees. From 1978 onwards, decisions on technical committees were being made by the Advisory Council with final approval by the Executive Committee.

The technical committees from 1948 to 1993 are listed in Table 1. In the table only years in which committees were changed are shown. The number of technical committees and groups steadily increased over the years to reach 12 in 1993.

Prior to 1978 reports of technical committees comprised a short summary by the chairman followed by a number of appendices written by committee members. Although the intent was for the report to be a consensus of the whole committee, achievement of this depended on the committee chairman. There were one or two controversial committee reports presented to the 1975 Conference which resulted in a change, starting in 1978, for the committees to produce a single document which reflected the opinion of the whole committee.


The term group was first used in 1984 to describe the Information Committee (successor to the Presentation Committee). The definition of a group as a committee set up by the Executive Committee to carry out specific tasks which are not technical issues was not included in the Rules of ITTC until 1996. Only two groups, Symbols and Terminology, which evolved from the earlier Presentation Committee, and Quality Assurance have been in place for more than one ITTC Period.

New Committee Structure 1996

By the 1990s the technologies used in model testing were changing rapidly and the use of computational methods was becoming widespread. At the same time demands on ITTC members by its clients were becoming more stringent. The Advisory Council was of the opinion that these changes would continue. The ITTC had been justifiably criticized for taking too long to respond to changes. The work of the technical committees for the next ITTC period was being proposed by the committees themselves, which led to an emphasis on longterm, on-going research. Over the years extra committees had been added, but apart from the short lived Secretariat Group, none had been discontinued. This resulted in an ever larger number of committees working in traditional areas. The Advisory Council was also concerned that any further increase in the number of committees, without a corresponding closure of some committees would increase the cost of holding the conference and make it difficult for member organizations to provide members on the committees.

The question was raised if the committee structure which had developed was the best one for the future. The work of the ITTC was being driven to a large extent by the committee structure. What was needed was a committee structure which would be flexible and enable the ITTC to respond to the the changing demands of its work.

To help provide answers the AC struck an Ad hoc Group to look at how other organizations, such as the ISSC and IAHR set up their technical committees. The Group found that although there were differences between the size and scope of the comparable organizations they had in common a structure which involved ongoing general committees and short term specialist committees, set up to address specific issues over a short period of time. This structure had three major benefits:

  • Flexibility. The committee structure could be easily changed to ensure that it met the changing demands of the work.
  • Quicker response to new issues. New committees could be set up to focus on specific issues and could be disbanded after three years.
  • Ability to maintain valuable outputs from the ITTC. There was a concern that the state-of-the-art reviews and critical bibliographies would continue to be produced.

General committees would be responsible for a general subject area, would review the state-of-the-art, identify needs of research and development and carry out longer term studies with broad impact. General subject areas were areas in which a majority of ITTC members have a direct interest. The number of general committees was intended to be small to allow resources to be allocated to the new specialist committees.

Specialist committees were to focus on a specific technical problem and would be set up for a limited duration. They would be expected to complete their work within in one or two ITTC periods, 3 to 6 years and would be disbanded at the end of this period unless action was taken to extend them. Specialist committees were to interact closely with the appropriate general committee. Both types of committee were to occupy the same level in the organization.

The Advisory Council accepted the Ad hoc group's recommendations and asked the group to prepare a draft new committee structure based on general and specialist committees. The new structure was agreed by the AC and terms of reference developed for each committee which were subsequently approved at the 1996 Conference.

Four general committees and eleven specialist committees were proposed. Each specialist committee had a duration of 3 years. The two groups, Quality systems Analysis and Symbols and terminology continued.

The committees are listed in Table 2.

It was expected that many of these proposed specialist committees would not get sufficient support to be viable, and would be dropped. In the event the Conference in 1996 supported all the specialist committees by proposing and supporting members.

1996 to 2014

The total number of committees (including the groups) has dropped from 17 in 1996 to 13 in 2014. The number of specialist committees dropped from 11 down to as low as 6 in 2011 and 2014. Although the total number of committees remained almost as high as in 1993, there has rarely been any difficulty in finding members for the committees.

Between 1996 and 2014 specialist committees have been set up to work in 33 different subject areas. As can be seen from their names in Table 2, they covered a wide range of topics. Some topics which were completely new to ITTC, for example to explore the possible role of the ITTC in ocean environmental issues. Others focused a specific topic within a general area which required more resources than would be available in a general committee. A few specialist committees continued to work on the same topics from one ITTC period to the next with a slightly changed name. These committees are shown in the table as continuations of the same committee. The ice committee has remained a specialist committee, with new terms of reference every three years (except for 2008) but under the same name Because the work of the ice committee is of direct interest to only a few ITTC members, it was not considered appropriate to be a general committee.

There were few changes to the general committees. (General committees were not intended to be permanent, but could change over time as to meet changing needs of ITTC member organizations). In 2002 the Loads and Responses committee was split back into Seakeeping and Ocean Engineering because it was found that although solving the problem of overlapping between these two areas, individual members did not have sufficient expertise in both moving ships and stationary structures in waves to take full advantage of this. In 2011 the Stability Committee which had been in existence as a specialist committee for five ITTC periods, was changed to a general committee “for the time being.”

The Symbols and Terminology group was discontinued in 2002, but much of the work in this area was included in the QA group in 2011. From 1996 the Advisory Council has been responsible for identifying the technical topics needed to be addressed by the ITTC, setting up committees required to carry out the work effectively and drafting terms of reference. The terms of reference are drafted taking into account input from the technical committees, ITTC members at large and the expertise and priorities of Advisory Council members themselves.

Table 1 - ITTC Technical Committees and Groups 1948 to 1993

Year created.  Years when there was no change are excluded 1948 1954 1960 1963 1978 1981 1984 1987 1990 1993
Technical committees                    
Propeller x x x x x x x x x x
Cavitation x x x x x x x x x x
Resistance x x x x x x x x x x
Seakeeping   x x x x x x x x x
Presentation   x x x x x        
Manoeuvring     x x x x x x x x
Performance       x x x x x x x
Ocean Engineering         x x x x x x
Ice         x x x x x x
High Speed Craft           x x x x x
Waterjets                   x
Symbols and terminology             x x x x
Secretariat               x    
Quality Control                 x x
Total number of committees and groups 3 5 6 7 9 10 10 11 11 12

Table 2 ITTC Technical Committees and Groups 1996 to 2014

Year created 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 2011 2014
General committees              
Resistance x x x x x x x
Propulsion x x x x x x x
Seakeeping     x x x x x
Manoeuvring x x x x x x x
Ocean Engineering     x x x x x
Stability in Waves           x x
Loads and responses x x          
Specialist committees              
Energy saving methods             x
Hydrodynamic modeling of marine renewable energy devices           x x
Environmental modeling  x           x
Ships in service           x x
Hydrodynamic noise           x x
Ice x x x x   x x
CFD in marine hydrodynamics         x x  
Detailed flow measurement techniques         x x  
High speed craft         x    
Scaling of wake field         x    
Surface treatment         x    
Uncertainty analysis       x x    
Vortex induced vibrations       x x    
Stability in waves/capsizing x x x x x    
Wake fields       x      
Cavitation       x      
Azimuthing podded propulsion     x x      
Powering performance prediction     x x      
Assessment of ocean environment issues     x        
Cavitation of propellers and appendages on high speed ships     x        
Validation of waterjet test procedures x x x        
Procedures for resistance, propulsion and propeller open water tests   x          
Water quality and cavitation   x          
Waves   x          
Stationary floating systems   x          
Esso Osaka   x          
Cavitation induced pressures x x          
Trials and monitoring/speed and power trials x x          
Unconventional propulsors x            
Computational methods for propeller cavitation x            
Deep water mooring x            
Safety of high speed marine vehicles x            
Model tests of high speed marine vehicles x            
Symbols and terminology x            
Quality systems x x x x x x x
Number of General committees 4 4 5 5 5 6 6
Number of Specialist committees 11 9 7 8 8 6 6
Number of Groups 2 1 1 1 1 1 1
Total number of committees and groups 17 14 13 14 14 13 13