Incat Acknowledges the Ancient Tamils as Catamaran Pioneers

A recent report in the esteemed Wall Street Journal in which the activities of Incat-built Wave Piercing Catamarans in service with the US military are reviewed, seems to have ruffled a few feathers in India’s media.

Follow-on reports suggest that Incat has “borrowed” its technology to construct fast ships.

Incat acknowledges that we did not invent the catamaran. But we doubt the ancient Tamils contemplated aluminium construction, efficient diesel engines and water jet propulsion.

Perhaps it is just as well aluminium and water jets were not around in ancient times, otherwise we may have been beaten to the punch!

In referring to The Wall Street Journal article, The Press Trust of India claims “The United States adapted ancient Indian catamaran-making technology to construct fast ships which were used with dramatic effect in the Iraq war, a media report said.”

“Among the new equipment the Americans used to win the Iraq war were 100-ft (actually they are almost 100 metres) catamaran ships to ferry army tanks and ammunition from Qatar to Kuwait.”

“The ships, built with technology adapted from ancient Tamil methods to make catamarans, can travel over 2,500 km in less than 48 hours, twice the speed of the Pentagon’s regular cargo ships, and carry enough equipment to support about 5,000 soldiers, the ‘Wall Street Journal’ reported on Tuesday.”

The concept of the catamaran is indeed ancient. The word catamaran comes from the Tamil word “kattumaram”, meaning tied wood. Indeed, in ancient times the word was used to describe a raft made of logs or boats lashed together. So it is quite likely the concept of twin hulls came from the Indian continent.

The Australian-built Incat Wave Piercing Catamarans used by the Americans, and which the fuss is over, are without doubt the most seaworthy and efficient of all high speed hull forms in the world. In fact, when describing the US Army’s 98 metre long Theater Support Vessel Spearhead sustaining 48.7 knots running down the coast of Qatar during Operation Iraqi Freedom, her Commanding Officer, CW3 Patrick S. May, exclaimed “Awesome”!