The science and technology of the field that we today know as naval architecture, has developed significantly over the last hundred years or so. This period has seen huge progress in the design and manufacture of engineering products and the marine technology. The advent of naval architects has made it even more smooth and quick. Naval architects are the people on whose shoulders rest the responsibility of the conquest of human kind on the high seas.
A naval architect is basically an engineer by profession who creates designs, constructs the marine vessels of all kinds and manages this complex process. The vessels include all sorts of merchant ships like cruise ships, oil or gas tankers, cargo ships, ferries etc. Apart from these, work boats like fishing boats, tugs, power boats and yachts come under this category. Industrial usage machines like the off shore drills, used for the extraction of oil and natural gas, FPSOs and semi submersibles are also designed and developed by naval architects. In addition to the civil segment, this field also provides its services to the military purposes for making of war ships, submarines, aircraft carriers, amphibious ships and destroyers etc. This makes naval architect, a professional, who offers services to the society in a manner that is unparalleled.
Though the profession is engineering based, these professionals need to have some idea and knowledge of other fields of study as well such as artistic designing, creativity and management. This is because, the responsibilities of a naval architect include a lot of things that may at the first instance look to be not in the field of play. The manufacture and the subsequent maintenance of all the marine equipment and vessels require great coordination between the different departments and having a working knowledge of all these goes a long way in helping the task of a naval architect. Thus, a person in this capacity who works at any of the shipyard, consultancies, design firms, navies or any other government organisations, has to have managerial and team management skills. It helps combine the contributions of each team member to bring about the desired end product.
A naval architect integrates the above mentioned activities and manages the entire project. This is the reason why it is of utmost importance for the person to have good and more importantly effective communication skills both verbal and written. A logical and artistic mind, a sound communication with people of all the different kinds of professions whether engineering or otherwise, attention to detail, patient and sound judgment are just some of the attributes that are looked for in any prospective naval architect.
The profession of a naval architect is a very dynamic one and requires constant updating on every aspect. This is why, it is said by the greats of this field that, in this profession anyone who ceases to be a student of the industry becomes stagnant and resistant to grow. Right from the education to the training and later to the job, being a naval architecture itself it is a very interesting life especially as it throws new challenges and opens new doors of knowledge.
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Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.