The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) awarded their highest honor, the David W. Taylor Medal for notable achievement in naval architecture or marine engineering, to recently retired ABS Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Donald Liu at the society’s Annual Banquet during the SNAME Marine Technology Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C.
Liu, a 37-year veteran of ABS and the “Father of ABS SafeHull”, believes "technology is the servant of safety." Liu, and the technology team at ABS, first developed the Dynamic Loading Approach (DLA) to assess the structural strength of
vessels, and then extended that pioneering approach with the development of the innovative SafeHull system.
SafeHull is a dynamic-based ship design evaluation system founded on engineering first principles. SafeHull has received widespread industry recognition as one of the most significant technical contributions toward enhanced ship safety, and the consequent protection of life, property and the environment in recent years.
“Liu has played a key role in building the technological foundation for the modern ABS Rules,” said SNAME President Bruce S. Rosenblatt. “Ship classification is based on fundamental analysis of the loads and structural response to those loads. In an era of rapid change in ship size and structural arrangements the fundamental work and research
and development that has taken place under Dr. Liu’s decades of technology leadership at ABS has contributed significantly to safety in the shipping industry.”
Dr. Liu graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point and began his career by sailing as a deck officer. With the support of SNAME scholarships he earned BS and MS degrees in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Upon graduation, Liu joined ABS as a
Surveyor. In the early 1970s he was selected to represent ABS at the University of Arizona to work on a joint ABS, Chevron Shipping and University of Arizona research project
to develop computer software to analyze very large tanker structures. During this time, Liu earned a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona focusing his research on Finite Element (FE) Analysis of ship structures.
Dr. Liu has authored or coauthored more than thirty five papers, reports and book chapters dealing with FE analysis, structural dynamics, ultimate strength, hull loading, structural stability, structural optimization and probabilistic aspects of ship loading and strength.
He has been an active participant in key national and international organizations concerned with ship structures research, development and design. Liu served as the ABS representative on the interagency Ship Structures Committee, a member of the Standing Committees of the International Ship and Offshore Structures congress (ISSC) and conference member on Practical Design of Ships and Mobile Units (PRADS). He has also served on the National Research Council’s Marine Board Implementation and Review Committee for the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, and served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture.
Liu retired from his position at ABS earlier this year. However, he continues in the role of consultant and was recently elected to the ABS Board of Directors.