Naval Architect Career Information
What a Naval Architect does
A naval architect is a professional engineer who is responsible for the design, construction and repair of ships, boats and offshore structures.
• Merchant ships - Oil/Gas Tankers, Cargo Ships, Cruise Liners, etc
• Passenger/Vehicle Ferries
• Warships - Frigates, Destroyers, Aircraft Carriers, Amphibious Ships, etc
• Submarines and underwater vehicles
• Offshore Drilling Platforms and Semi Submersibles
• High Speed Craft - Hovercraft, Multi-Hull Ships, Hydrofoil Craft, etc
• Workboats - Fishing Vessels, Tugs, Pilot Vessels, Rescue Craft etc
• Yachts, Power Boats and other recreational craft
You will design vessels and offshore structures that are stable, seaworthy and have the economic performance for a comfortable travel in all conditions. You will build complex mathematical and physical models to test and prove that the design is satisfactory.
Apart from the architectural aspects of ship form and layout, you will also have to ensure that the design meets the technical and safety standards laid down by the various governing agencies.
You will then convert these drawings and detailed specifications into real structures. You will be responsible for the management of planning, production and the complex operation of fitting equipment. You will strive to make savings with new techniques and equipment and better training for the work force. Organising the supply of materials and components as well as inspection and testing are also part of your job.
Ships and offshore vessels are kept in service for decades and so maintenance repair and upgradation becomes part and parcel of every naval architect. Emergency repair work will often require you to come up with ingenuous ideas and improvise on the spot.
In additions to the above duties, you will coordinate activities with your clients, other professionals and government officials. You will also be required to assist in the budgeting process.
Most of your time would be spent on the computer using architecture and engineering software. But you will also have to work on the dry docks (docks where the ships are berthed and the water is drained out) as well as off shore. Modern engineering on this scale is essentially a team activity conducted by engineers from various disciplines. However, as a naval architect you will integrate all these activities to produce a product, which is fit for the purpose.
Naval Architects are employed by ship builders and offshore constructors such as Garden Reach Ship Builders & Engineers Ltd., Mazgaon Docks, Goa Shipyard Ltd., etc. Here you will work on commercial as well as defence projects. Companies involved in off shore petroleum drilling for petroleum like ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Commission) also employ Naval Architects You can work with companies engaged in the design of products as propulsion systems, auxiliary (back up) systems, under water equipment and control systems.
Many shipping companies have technical departments in which Naval Architects are responsible for the many phases of ship and equipment procurement and for taking care of the company's maritime operations. (SCI, Great Eastern Shipping Company Ltd.)
Naval Architects are also employed as ship surveyors by national and international agencies such as the International Maritime Organisation. You will be evaluating the safety of ships and marine structures on the basis of international standards and approving them on aspects of design such as strength, stability, and safety.
You can also find jobs in companies engaged in Research and development, educational institutes and the sales and marketing departments of marine engineering and construction engineering.
If you think that you are going to design a luxury ship like the Queen Elizabeth II or a super tanker capable of carrying millions of tonnes of crude oil then you are sadly mistaken. The economic slump has meant that companies no longer find it feasible to construct new mammoth ships. However this means that ships currently in service will need more overhauling and upgrading. Your challenge will therefore be to take existing structures and make them better.
With time, naval architects become specialists in one field or develop broad experience in several areas. Eventually you will grow up to senior executive positions.
Alternatively you can start off your own consultancy services providing clients with engineering solutions, technical guidance and project management for vessel constructions, repair and upgradation.
Abilities & Traits Required
You need to have:
• Good design and technical skills
• An eye for detail
• Sound analytical and numerical ability
• Good communication skills
• Mechanical ability
• Physical stamina to work on the desk as well on the site, patience, team spirit, sense of responsibility and accountability are some other important traits of this profession.
The minimum qualification to enter this field is a BE Naval Architecture or BE Ocean Engineering. You can also pursue your Bachelor's in Architecture and then do a postgraduate specialisation in Naval Architecture.
You will learn the systems involved in a typical design process like analysing requirements, deciding materials and production techniques as well as assessing quality and reliability.
Along with the various engineering techniques such as material fabrication, assembly, installation and commissioning you will also be made aware of management practices such as production, planning and quality control.
Because this is a specialised skill, starting salaries are comparatively higher in the range of Rs 30000 - 50000 a month for those with a Bachelor's degree and around 45000 – 60000 for those with postgraduate degrees.
Pay scales in government organisations are marginally lower in the range of Rs 35000 - 45000 a month. But then you have job security along with numerous other perks and privileges.