What is a Naval Architect?

Also known as: Naval Engineer, Naval Architect & Marine Engineer, Marine Structural Engineer, Marine Architect, Naval Architect Specialist.

A naval architect is someone who designs, builds, and maintains several different types of marine vessels and structures, and makes water travel possible. For example, they design watercraft that travels across the top of water, such as small boats and ships. They also design vessels that travel underwater and standing structures that are built under water (submersibles), such as submarines and marine oil rigs. Special aircraft that are designed for water landings are also designed and built with the help of a naval architect.

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What does a Naval Architect do?

A naval architect typically works in a team with other architects and engineers to create all types of different marine vessels and structures. Naval architects typically do the following:

  • Study design proposals and specifications to establish basic characteristics of a ship, such as size, weight, and speed. It is the job of a naval architect and his team to discuss the needs of a particular company or client in regards to the marine vessel that they want designed. Different vessels and structures are typically built for different purposes. A cruise ship will usually be designed with the comfort of the passengers in mind, for example, while a military vessel will be designed for the purpose of defence.

  • Once a naval architect and his team have determined the general size and purpose of a vessel, they can then start brainstorming for ideas on how to design it. During this initial brainstorming process, several ideas will usually be tossed around, and several sketches will usually be drawn.

  • Develop sectional and waterline curves of the hull to establish the centre of gravity, ideal hull form, and data on buoyancy and stability

  • Design entire ship hulls and superstructures, following safety standards

  • Design the layout of ships’ interiors, including passenger compartments, cargo space, ladder wells, and elevators

  • Confer with marine engineers to set up the layout of boiler room equipment, heating and ventilation systems, refrigeration equipment, and propulsion machinery

  • The final design is usually very detailed, and it will include nearly every aspect of the building process. These designs are often created with the help of special sophisticated computer software.

  • Lead teams from a variety of specialties to oversee building and testing prototypes. A naval architect's job does not usually stop at designing a marine vessel, however. These professionals will usually oversee and even help with the building process. In doing so, they can quickly and accurately catch and correct any problems during the construction.

  • Evaluate how the ship does during trials both at the dock and at sea and change the design as needed to make sure the ship meets national and international specifications.

What is the workplace of a Naval Architect like?

Naval architects are able to secure employment with companies that build marine structures and vessels. Oil and gas companies will hire naval architects to build ocean rigs, the military will hire naval architects to design and build their marine vessels (for example, submarines). Cruise lines will hire naval architects to build recreational vessels.

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Further Reading

  • William Francis Gibbs - Brief Life Of America’s Greatest Naval Architect

    THE CLASS OF 1910 dropout who designed the SS United States—the fastest, safest, most beautiful transatlantic liner ever built—had the diction of a Philadelphia aristocrat, the mind of an artist, and the mouth of a sailor (a trait picked up from years of working in shipyards).

  • Naval Architect Vs. Ocean Engineer

    Although both ocean engineering and naval architecture are disciplines within mechanical engineering and have similar training in many areas, there is a major difference between them.

  • The Promising World Of Naval Architecture

    Due to the complexity associated with operating in a marine environment, naval architecture is a co-operative effort between groups of technically skilled individuals who are specialists in particular fields, often coordinated by a lead naval architect.

  • Salary For Marine Engineers And Naval Architects

    Individuals working as marine engineers and naval architects are involved in the design, development, and evaluation of water-borne vehicles. They may design ship machinery, including propulsion systems or ballasts, or equipment related to general mechanical function of ships and watercraft.

  • What Does A Naval Architect Do?

    A naval architect is a person who works on ships throughout the various stages of design and construction, as well as following up after the task has been completed. They have to work closely with the engineer to make sure that everything is as it should be.

  • Careers In Naval Architecture

    A Naval Architect is a professional engineer who is responsible for the design, construction and repair of ships, boats, other marine vessels and offshore structures, both civil and military.

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