29 January 2009

The Job of a Naval Architect

Job description

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.

Modern engineering on this scale is a team activity conducted by professional engineers in their respective fields and disciplines. However, it is the naval architect who integrates their activities and takes ultimate responsibility for the overall project. They must also ensure that a safe, economic and seaworthy design is produced.

Naval architects must have an understanding of many branches of engineering and must be at the forefront of high technology areas such as computer aided design.
Typical work activities

Depending on the type of qualifications held and personal interests, naval architects may become specialists in one field or develop broad experience in several. Eventually they may find themselves in senior executive positions using their knowledge and experience of general management as well as their professional skills in engineering and project leadership.

Naval architects have a wide range of employment opportunities, both in the UK and worldwide. They are involved in a wide variety of work so it is difficult to categorise it comprehensively. However, the main areas are as follows:

  • Design. Naval architects must have an understanding of the many aspects of ship design - function, appearance and, especially important at sea, safety. Activities include using complex mathematical and physical models to ensure that the ship's design is satisfactory technically and that it meets the safety rules and standards.
  • Construction. A naval architect specialising in construction usually holds a management post, taking responsibility for the management of the whole shipyard or for sections of it such as planning, production or the complex operation of fitting out.
  • Consultancy. Typical activities include providing clients with engineering solutions, technical and commercial guidance, support and project management for concept design studies, new vessel constructions, refits and conversions.
  • Research and development. Naval architects are involved in undertaking maritime research in universities and industry.
  • Regulation, surveying and overseeing. Naval architects employed by classification societies as ship surveyors are engaged worldwide in evaluating the safety of ships and marine structures using the societies' rules and those of intergovernmental organisations such as the International Maritime Organisation. Typical activities include the approving of aspects of design such as strength, stability, and lifesaving.
  • Marketing and sales. Activities include giving professional advice and technical support to customers of the maritime industry.
  • Operations. Many shipping companies have technical departments in which naval architects are responsible for the many phases of ship and equipment procurement and for solving problems affecting the economics of maritime operations.
  • Education and training. There are also opportunities for naval architects with good qualifications to work in universities and colleges as professors and lecturers.
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