10 May 2022
Eye on Design: What is Old Can Be Green Again
The use of certain technologies is rarely a stand alone decision. The switch from sail to steam did not happen overnight and they actually coexisted for over a century, where, based on available technologies, in certain applications steam was more attractive and in other applications sail was more attractive.The eventual dominance of screw propellers over paddle wheels was not even driven by technological considerations…
09 May 2022
Looking for a Good Deal? Learn to Take Advantage of Interns
For the future of the industry, hire interns, both college and high schoolers. And pay them: none of that silly privileged unpaid intern crap that occurs in non-maritime industries.I generally wait until I receive the printed issue to read Maritime Reporter and Engineering News, and when I read the August edition, I was both delighted and frustrated, mostly because of the two articles on shipbuilding…
11 Apr 2022
Yesterday’s or Tomorrow’s Offshore Energy: Which to Pick?
Looking back, it is easy to wonder if one could have done better by taking the other fork in the road. I grew up in Holland in a maritime family and am pretty sure I would have stuck with maritime there. In 1968, when I was 8 years old, my father left Holland America Line and joined the United States Salvage Association. At the same time, their main customer, the U.S. marine insurance industry, became heavily involved in the development of North Sea offshore oil and gas…
22 Mar 2022
Eye on Maritime Design: Can Wind Propulsion Work by Keeping it Simple?
While it is starting to look like some clever wind/power sail technologies are starting to appear, too often I have looked at the cargo cranes of geared bulkers and wondered if it makes sense to rig some sort of sail on them.I think the fancier approaches fight the “build a little, test a little, learn a lot” engineering maxim in new technology development, and maybe doing more simple stuff may be…
14 Feb 2022
Let’s Get One More National Multi Mission Vessel, but Let’s Add Some Grit
The new maritime academy school ships being built at Philly Shipyard (officially designated as National Security Multi-Mission Vessels) are an exciting development and provide a significant boost to our national maritime educational system. The technology on our existing school ships has very little relevance to the present marine industry, and these new vessels will not only provide the students with a better educational setting…
11 Jan 2022
Eye on Design: Repair and Conversion Conundrums in Hybrid Propulsion
I recently built a 35 foot Solar Hybrid Electric Wheelchair Accessible Catamaran for my wife who became wheelchair bound a few years ago. (In typing this sentence, I just realized that this vessel can be referred to as a SHEWAC)It is only a 35 foot recreational vessel, but it contains all the propulsion pieces that are found in any other modern hybrid propelled vessel.I have operated the vessel for…
23 Dec 2021
Eye on Design: The Truth Behind Great Ships
Last year I provided a list of my favorite historical ships as my contribution to the Great Ships issue. Even though I received some pushback on the list, I see no need to amend it.I created that list to avoid having to judge today’s Great Ships, but the second time around I suppose I cannot evade my mission and should focus on present day vessels, and there is a lot of interesting stuff being produced in the U.S.
06 Dec 2021
Eye on Design: Where Are the Transportation Macro Designers?
As naval architects and marine engineers we are familiar with the design spiral. While design is not truly a spiral, we use the concept to remind ourselves that all pieces of a ship design interact. The design spiral is not a standard figure and can be simplistic or overcomplicated.A Google search image summary provides dozens of interpretations, all investigating different variables, with the only…
11 Oct 2021
Ferries V2.0. Post COVID Opportunities
Since the 1980s there has been a remarkable revival of ferry services in many U.S. waterfront cities, but COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the most profitable component of these services: the commuter runs. With post-COVID work-at-home arrangements and part-week in-office work, these ferry services have suffered a tremendous loss of income. But there are glimmers of hope that a recovery is likely, although in a different form…
17 Aug 2021
What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate…. in Ship Construction!
My brother, who is the executive editor of my favorite boating magazine (Soundings), and I occasionally send strange tidbits to each other by email. For some reason he sent me an email about the 17th Century ship Vasa and focused on one of the causes of the vessel’s failure to float properly.This is the Wikipedia paragraph he focused on:"The use of different measuring systems on either side of the vessel caused its mass to be distributed asymmetrically, heavier to port.
10 Jun 2021
Enterprise Revisited: Titanium is the USCG Vessel Procurement Magic Bullet
In my May 2020 MREN USS Enterprise column I made a reference to the benefits of titanium as a hull structural material.It related to the life of the USCG cutter Bear and I concluded the column with a suggestion that titanium would be a particularly useful and cost-effective structural material for sail training vessels, aircraft carriers, research vessels, cruise vessels, tugs and Staten Island ferries.
17 May 2021
Back to the Drawing Board: Analyzing Social Impact of Sustainable Energy
The future could be bright for small island nations. Cheap sustainable energy is the core component of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.Engineers like making things, but rarely think of the social impact that flows from their creations. Today, while we are standing at the threshold of sustainable energy, we should take a moment to reflect on the social impact of sustainable energy.
11 Apr 2021
Shipbuilding: Is there a different future for ship repair and conversion?
There is an old adage that states that a repair yard can economically build new ships, but a new construction yard should never touch ship repair jobs. In my experience there is a lot of truth to that statement, and it does not mean that new construction yards are run by less capable people; it simply means that ship construction and ship repair and conversion are fundamentally different business models. Ship construction uses a script, while ship repair and conversion is improvisation.
08 Dec 2020
Great Ships and The Ship Designer’s Curse
For the Design issue Greg Trauthwein asked me to write about a favorite ship design. I have no favorite ship design, or should say there are simply too many that are truly worthy of mention. But when considering favorite designs, ship designers (and builders) do carry a strange curse. Unique among engineers (and artists, architects, and industrial designers) their creations only live for about 30 years.
12 Nov 2020
Engineering Ethics, Seaworthiness and the Right of Clients to Kill Themselves
I had only been working as a graduate engineer for a few years and was minding my own business working for a yacht designer when my boss asked me to get in touch with a person who was looking for engineering analysis. I called the number and arranged for the person to meet me at the office.A few days later a tall very athletic man walked up the stairs and introduced himself as Ned Gillette. He unfolded a drawing with a design for a rowboat…
28 Sep 2020
To the Bold Man Who First Ate a Raw Oyster
This is a technical article related to risk assessment, which is incredibly central to maritime endeavors. We operate in an environment with many unknowns and high unpredictability, and anything we do requires a risk assessment. In fact, naval architects, marine engineers, ship’s engineers and, most of all, ship masters do nothing but cast whatever they do in terms of risk.Risk assessment can be mathematically evaluated, but most of us analyze risk based on experience.
15 Sep 2020
Maritime History: Columbia Lighting the World; How Classification Can Make a Difference
I don’t remember when I discovered that the first application of lightbulbs occurred at sea rather than ashore. But when I dug a little deeper into the subject recently, I came across an interesting set of coincidences that shows how innovation often relies on simply doing, rather than endlessly talking about it. After Thomas Edison managed to make sufficient improvements to the lightbulb concept to have it show commercial viability in late 1879…
26 May 2020
Eye on Design: A Titanium USS Enterprise (NCC-1701 that is)
Dennis Bryant provided a link to a story about the USCG Cutter Bear in his March 18, 2020 newsletter. It is a great story about a great ship with a great Captain (Michael Healy) and a great crew. It shows that the right combination of ship and crew can perform miracles.This one ship, its Captain (and his wife who often shipped with him), and its crew did so many things so well that it has become the stuff of legends.
23 Apr 2020
Insights: Contracts are Overrated in Maritime
My company has been around since 1875, and today we actually still do things that were being done in 1875. We still get calls from underwriters to attend on disasters all over the place, and we are still asked to provide values on ships on a moment’s notice.Moreover, some of the companies that ask us to attend to those issues, in some form or another, also have been around since 1875.That results in a very smooth operational routine…
13 Nov 2019
Taming Ferry Wakes and Reducing CO2
Will Moon was one of my very early engineering interns (and also helped me finish out the second story of my house decades ago). He has since moved to the West Coast and has worked for the naval architecture firm Glosten for quite a while now. On Marinelink.com I saw a quick flash of a foiling passenger ferry and the name Glosten and I contacted him for a closer look.Will provided me with more information and this is one of those cases where I really like what I see.