Naval Architects

Naval Architecture is an engineering discipline that comprises of the design, construction, operation and maintenance of ships, boats and other such marine vehicles and structures. It includes various aspects of building a ship such as research, design, construction, testing, operations and maintenance. Practitioners of this discipline are called Naval Architects. Please keep in mind that they are Engineers and not Architects, but the field is called so as it includes crucial aspects of designing and construction. They are not to be confused with Marine Engineers who focus on the machinery within a ship including pumps, heating, engines etc. Naval Architects play a major role in all the different stages of a marine vessel’s life. The ultimate responsibility of a how a ship turns out to be after construction lies with them.

Naval Architects are important during the construction of all types of marine vessels as most of them are complex, huge and very expensive. They are involved in the design and construction of various types of marine vessels including merchant ships, passenger ships, boats, yachts, warships etc. Some of them are also involved in the construction of marine structures such as offshore drilling platforms. They normally work in teams and lead and coordinate the activities of a variety of other engineers from different disciplines. Naval Architects usually specialize in one particular type of job that might range from designing and planning to research and consultancy to risk analysis and maintenance. It is a very good career choice if you have the right aptitude as there is a shortage of quality Naval Architects in the country today. Naval Architects are hired by a variety of organizations, including Government organizations like the Ministry of Defense, Private Ship Companies, Offshore Constructors, Maintenance/Repair Companies etc. Some Naval Architects choose to start their own businesses as entrepreneurs and offer consultancy services.

What do Naval Architects do?

Naval Architects are involved in creating safe and economically feasible designs for marine vessels that focus on comfort, space, endurance, strength, stability, speed and other such aspects of a ship that make it functional. Their work also includes looking after the safety regulations and damage control rules that are applicable to ships, boats and other vessels.

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One of the main jobs of Naval Architects is to discuss the objectives of the design depending upon the type of vessel. This is important as the construction and design of a yacht will be very different from that of a warship. Naval Architects choose the materials that are required to build the ship and plan the construction including the main aspects of the design accordingly.

The most important task that Naval Architects perform is to design the ship or any other marine vessel. These designs are created keeping the type of vessel in mind. For example, the design of a passenger ship will focus more comfort and beauty whereas the design of a cargo ship will focus more on space and product safety. These designs are usually created using designing and ship building software.

Once the design has been finalized, Naval Architects play a very important role in the construction of the ship. They oversee the construction and guide other engineers and their subordinates who are involved in the construction. They make sure that ship is constructed strictly according to the blueprint and designs created by them.

Another important part of the job of a Naval Architect is to conduct tests once the ship has been constructed. They document ship performance related facts such as top speed, endurance etc. Naval Architects often suggest changes in the design, materials or construction mechanisms after these tests and ensure that the ship performance is satisfactory.

Naval Architects create and manage budgets before and during the construction of the ship or marine vessel. They choose materials and make adjustments to the design keeping the budget in mind. It is a part of their job to ensure that the budgets are adhered to during the construction and that the money is used optimally.

Maintenance is another important aspect of the job of a Naval Architect. They are actively involved in conducting surveys and checking the performance of the ship from time to time. It is their job to ensure that the wear and tear is kept at a minimum and that the faulty parts of the ship are repaired and in perfect working conditions after the repairs.

Naval Architects play major roles in ensuring that the ship or the marine vessel is built and operated as per the established security standards. They prioritize safety of the passengers or goods during the construction of designs and quality checks. They make sure that the ship is safe and can withstand various pressures and obstacles.

Many Naval Architects are involved in conducting research. Their research is related to different aspects of a ship and focuses on coming up with ways to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve the design and performance of the ship or marine vessel.

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How to become a Naval Architect?

Naval Architects are specialists who have the capability to come up with designs that are not only aesthetically beautiful but technically sound as well. Becoming a Naval Architect requires one to have technical expertise, mathematical knowledge and creativity.

You should concentrate on Math, Science and English during your schooling period. You will have to choose the Science stream after your Class 10th as Math, Physics and Chemistry are very important in this profession.

Once you complete your schooling, you will have to pursue graduate courses in Naval Architecture or related fields. As these are engineering fields, you will be required to qualify in various engineering entrance exams before you get admission into a reputed college. These entrance exams are competitive and require a lot of preparation.

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You will gain admission into an engineering college once you qualify in the entrance exams. Pursuing a graduate course in Naval Architecture is mandatory if you want to get into this profession. These courses will help you learn in detail about how a ship functions and what should be an ideal design for a ship or marine vessel. Pursuing Post Graduate courses after your college can be helpful in getting better jobs and expanding your knowledge base.

Experience is vital if you want to become a Naval Architect as it is a highly technical field. Working as a trainee or an intern under experienced Naval Architects will help you learn about the technicalities of the professional side of the discipline and increase your knowledge about topics related to design.

To become a Naval Architect, you will need to learn and master various designing software that are meant for drafting or ship designing. Proficiency in such software will help you create accurate and technically sound designs.

An alternative route to get into Naval Architecture is through the Indian Navy. You can join the Indian Navy as an aspiring Naval Architect right after school provided that you are male and meet the eligibility criteria. Women and Men can join the Naval Architecture Cadre of the Indian Navy on through the Short Term Commission Scheme if you meet the eligibility criteria and have a graduate degree in Naval Architecture or related fields. Your selection will be based on interviews and other tests.

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India has a lot of institutions that offer great courses in Naval Architecture and related fields. IIT Kharagpur and IIT Madras offer excellent undergraduate courses in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture. You can choose to pursue a B.Tech course in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture or a Dual Degree in both these fields. IIT Kharagpur also offers an M.Tech degree in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture. Cochin University of Science and Technology also offers a B.Tech degree in Naval Architecture and Ship Building. The Indian Maritime University is known for its undergraduate, graduate and post graduate courses in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering.

What are the skills required to become a Naval Architect?

Naval Architects are required to have a vast knowledge base that includes topics like design, engineering and computer science. They should have excellent numerical and analytical ability. They also need to have very good managerial skills and the ability to lead, motivate and guide a team of subordinates and colleagues. Naval Architects should have the ability to focus on details and should prioritize safety during the design and construction of ships and other marine vessels. It is important that they possess excellent communication skills as they are required to deal with a lot of people from diverse backgrounds at work. They need to have the ability to make quick decisions and solve problems as and when they come up. Naval Architects should be creative, innovative and possess excellent designing and drawing skills. They are also required to be dedicated, honest and hardworking as designing and constructing huge structures and ships is not an easy task.

Is this the right career for me?

Naval Architects spend a lot of time creating designs for ships and other marine vessels. They are often required to travel to distant places for work. They usually work for regular hours but might have to work overtime to meet deadlines. Their job requires them to work in hazardous conditions and under extreme mental pressure. It is a career that involves constant research and can be well paying as well. It offers good opportunities for growth and allows professionals to put their creative and technical skills to great use.

If you’re looking for a job that is easy going and does not involve a lot of travelling, and if you’re not comfortable in working in a field that is closely related to math and other academic disciplines, then this isn’t the right career for you. But if you’re fascinated by the world of ships, and if you have the unique combination of being creative as well as technically sound, then this can be a great career choice for you.


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