The Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering Activity

The activity of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering is essentially work performed by a team, conducted by professionals specialized in multiple areas and disciplines.

However, the technical responsibility of the project coordination and management is normally assumed by the member of the team who is a Naval Architect and Ocean Engineer, ensuring in this way that execution requirements are met in accordance with the applicable national and international requirements, in terms of safety and pollution prevention that originate from ships or vessels, and their transported cargo.

For a Naval Architect and Ocean Engineer to be authorised to practice his profession (by the Portuguese Association of Engineers), he must conclude the second cycle of studies, that is, a Masters degree in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering.

What specific capabilities must a Naval Architect and Ocean Engineer acquire?
A comprehensive know-how on the various types of existing ships to be able to meet the requirements of marine transportation sector, as well as awareness of important developments related with fixed and floating platforms and semi-submersibles that serve as the basis for the exploitation of ocean and coastal resources.
The capability to conceive, construct, maintain and repair a broad spectra of maritime vehicles and systems, including the platforms to exploit the sea energy resources.
The capability to work with computational systems to meet the needs of the automation of the industrial production systems and the management of maritime and port operations.
Furthermore, the important development in planning concepts and methods, as well as the development of communications and computational systems, lead to an increased capability of the Naval Architect and Ocean Engineer to be involved in aspects related to the fleet operations of Portuguese and foreign ship owners, and of the interface ports and other means of transportation.
Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers have therefore a broad spectrum of career opportunities both in Portugal and abroad, related to the following areas:
• Ship Design
• Consultancy
• Shipbuilding and Ship Repair
• Commercialization and Technical Support of Maritime Equipment
• Operations Management
• Ship Classification, Inspection and Regulation
• Teaching and Research

In this field, Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers have to be creative. They must posses general knowledge about the development of the design of a ship or an ocean platform, that is, the intended function of a ship or a platform, its shape and safety, the latter aspect being of high importance in the marine environment.
Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers must be capable of using complex models, both in physical as well as in mathematical terms, in order to comply with the technical requirements needed to complete the design of a ship.
This means that safety rules, the rules of Classification Societies, the rules of IMO (International Maritime Organization) and the rules of governmental organizations must be observed, when developing a design activity.
Any ship, any vessel or marine structure must be sufficiently stable and resistant in the most adverse weather conditions. As far as hydrodynamic performance is concerned, the use of economic and reliable propulsion systems is important, as well as comfortable motion in all sea states.
Employers in this field are companies who concentrate on the design of marine structures, such as ships, platforms and fishing boats and pleasure vessels.

As consultants, Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers have to provide clients with engineering solutions, technical and commercial support on the design of new structures, on shipbuilding, ship repairs and ship conversions.

Shipbuilding and Ship Repair
The task of a Naval Architect and Ocean Engineer is to convert a design with specific details into a real structure.
The Naval Architect and Ocean Engineer is responsible for the specifications and installation of materials and components, according to systems inherent to good performance of a ship that includes the propulsion system. He is also responsible for ship inspections and trials carried out on the ships, according to the Classification Societies rules and the inter-governmental laws, in order to conform to the applicable national and international requisites.
A Naval Architect and Ocean Engineer specialized in shipbuilding usually undertakes management positions, becoming responsible for the management and coordination of all sectors of the shipyard which are involved in the process of building of a ship: planning, ship design, production, quality control, provisions, and the management of labour force.
Ship repairs activities are similar to that of shipbuilding, both requiring adequate management of the techniques, the materials and the timing of the repair. Another aspect, underwater ship repair, occurs in emergency situations in which the ship cannot enter a dry dock, or a platform.
The employers in this field can be both big shipyards or shipyards with smaller facilities, both involved in shipbuilding and ship repair.

Management and Selling of Marine Systems and Equipment
The variety and diversity of systems which exist on-board a ship demands that the Naval Architect and Ocean Engineer be familiar with the design, use and maintenance of a wide variety of equipment. This broad base of know-how makes the Naval Architect and Ocean Engineer valued employee for companies selling these systems, in the marine industry as well as other industries.

Operations Management
Many companies in the field of marine operations have a technical support department, in which the Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers are responsible for solving technical and commercial problems that have economic effects on the marine operations of those companies.

Ship Classification, Inspection and Regulation
Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers are responsible for the evaluation of the safety of ships and of other marine structures, according to the rules of Classification Societies, the rules of IMO (International Maritime Organization), and the rules of governmental organizations.
Before the building phase, the Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineer have to evaluate the technical documents needed for the construction of marine structures, namely of ships, insofar as their resistance, stability, safety and reliability are concerned.
During the building phase, the inspectors of the Classification Societies make inspections to guarantee the quality of the work carried out and to evaluate if the materials used meet the rules and regulations of building of marine structures, namely, ships.
After the ship is built, the inspection tasks continue, to guarantee that possible defects that arise during a ship’s lifetime are repaired in order to maintain the reliability, safety, stability and strength of all marine structures.

Education and Research
As in all other fields of engineering, the teaching activity is also an option that can develop in universities or polytechnic institutes.
The research activity can be developed in universities, in governmental institutes or in private institutes. At Instituto Superior Técnico, the Centre for Marine Technology and Ocean Engineering has the following thematic areas of research:
• Marine Environment
• Marine Dynamics and Hydrodynamics
• Ship Design and Logistics of Maritime Transportation
• Safety, Reliability and Maintenance
The two last areas are represented in one Research Group, while each of the three initial ones are associated with a specific Group.