Cargo Ship Challenge Guide

Challenge Sponsors: Maryland Association of Appraisers, Project Liberty Ship

Level: High School—Grades 9–12

Team Size: 1 to 8 students

Important Dates:
Coaches’ Information Workshop: Thursday, November 29, 2012 from 4:00 P.M.—7:00 P.M.
Coaches’ Hands-On Workshop: Saturday, January 19, 2010 from 10:00 A.M.—2:00 P.M.
Registration required, information available at November workshop
Registration Deadline and Written Report Due: Friday, ****, 2013 at 4:00 P.M.
Competition Date: Sunday, 7 April, 2013 at 12:00 noon.

All Cargo Ship activities will be held at the Baltimore Museum of Industry
Adult coaches click here to register.

Written reports must be submitted as hard copies, either by mail or in person, to:
Melinda Cané , BMI
1415 Key Highway
Baltimore MD 21230

For more information on registration or general questions, contact Melinda Cané 410-727-4808 ext. 120
For questions about Cargo Ship specifications, contact Bill Riedel.


A local Baltimore company would like your team to design a bulk carrier cargo ship to deliver 40,000 tons of processed sugar to remote ports. The shortest wharf on the expected route is 600 feet long and the minimum depth in any port is 40 feet. As part of your solution you should build a 1" to 10'0" scale, radio controlled model to be tested in the inner harbor.

The winning design team will be awarded the Helen Delich Bentley Trophy.


The competition involves five main components: a written report submitted two weeks prior to the actual competition, an oral report on the day of the competition, the actual design and construction of the entry, the reliability of the entry, and the demonstrated performance. Basic requirements for the reports and guidance for preparing for the competition are given in the High School Information Sheet (a.k.a. "Guide to Entry”), which should be read in connection with these details which are specific to the cargo ship challenge.

I Written Report (includes drawings) (30 points)

Provide a written report in the required format (see High School Information Sheet) that presents and explains all facets of the design and the rationale for selecting specific design parameters and selecting/rejecting individual features. For example, what were the overall length, beam, and draft? How was the hull shape chosen? What testing was performed? What were the results? Be sure and include working drawings and a final lines drawing of your hull.

II Oral Report (10 points)

One or more of the team members should present a 5-10 minute oral report that summarizes the written report. This will be followed by 5 minutes of questioning by the judges.

III Design and Fabrication (30 points)

Design a mono-hull ship to meet the requirements and construct a 1" to 10'0" (1:120) scale model with the hull constructed of any rigid material. The model should be robust enough to withstand minor collisions and must have enough watertight integrity to protect the cargo, the propulsion plant and the radio controls. The model should conform to the constraints listed below.

IV Reliability (5 bonus points)

Up to 5 bonus points will be awarded by the judges to vessels that are consistently ready to test when called, need few repairs, and operate reliably.

V Performance Demonstration (30 Points)

The performance of the vessel will be based on Required Freight Rate (how much the operator must charge per ton·mile to break even). The vessel with the lowest Required Freight Rate (RFR) will be declared the performance winner.

Once loaded, each entry will perform a timed run consisting of getting underway from a wharf, running a specified course around buoys, and maneuvering back alongside the wharf. This simplified formula for Required Freight Rate will be used:

RFR = (L+T)/(CD)

L = Length of Vessel
T = Time to run course in seconds
C = Pounds of Cargo carried
D = Scale Distance of course (considered to be 2.5 scale miles).

Example: 50" Long model with a full load of 40 pounds around course in 2 minutes
RFR = (50+120)/(40x2.5) = 170/100 = $1.70 per ton mile


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Last updated 7 April 2013