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The Ship Design Process

8 Interesting Facts About Ship Designing


Ship design is a practice with thousands of years of history. The requirements and standards for ship design are constantly evolving, with many factors affecting the process and product.


Ships are akin to small islands and must account for many components to facilitate life on board for extended periods. Designing and engineering ships take the expertise of several professions and can be a long process. Here are a few interesting facts about designing and building ships in modern times:



1. Naval Architects and Marine Engineers A Naval Architect is responsible for the ship's overall design, including the overall shape, structure, and space allocation. A Marine Engineer develops the performance specifications and is responsible for the system machinery that is required onboard. Naval Architects and Marine Engineers work together to produce a functional design to their client's specification. They also work alongside electrical and mechanical engineers, as well as shipbuilders throughout the design process.

2. Three Major Design Requirements Layout drawings include floor plans, elevations, and details of arranging the spaces within the ship. In addition, these drawings should show decks, hull, dimensions of rooms, and layouts for equipment, furniture, etc., within each area. Line drawings show the overall shape of the ship, specifically the profile visible above the waterline and below. Structural drawings show the structural makeup of the ship, including the framing and bulkheads. Therefore, structural requirements can sometimes inform the overall layout drawings, setting limits on the spaces shared with structural components.


3. Ministry of Defense

With Government support, the Ministry of Defense has a National Shipbuilding Strategy in place. It details plans to secure more maritime vessels and develop a holistic ship designing approach for naval and commercial ships.


4. UK Shipyards

The quantity of active shipyards has vastly declined since World War II. There are now only a few shipyards that construct larger vessels, like Naval ships. There is also a limited number of shipyards with the facilities to build smaller vessels like fishing boats and ferries.


5. Technology 3D Printing, robotic advancements, and developments in computer software continually improve the design process in shipbuilding. For example, indoor pool simulation facilities for testing ship models during the design phase. In addition, advancements in technology have helped speed up the design process and help prevent missing issues in the design process.


6. Type and Usage

Ships can serve many different purposes, and as such, their design will follow their intended function. Whether a ship is for carrying cargo or recreational purposes, the specifications should be defined early in the process.


7. Nautical Terms

The ship's rear is called the aft. Similarly, the front of the ship is called the fore. The left side is the port side, while the right side is the starboard side. These terms have been around for hundreds of years, and while they have evolved, they are still widely used by sailors. Nautical language is to help reduce confusion and improve communication within the crew on board.


8. Nationalisation and Decline

After World War II, shipbuilding was nationalised following the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act of 1977 due to a decline in shipbuilding. The shipbuilding industry was then denationalised in 1988 when Margaret Thatcher sold yards off to private companies.


Designing ships is an art form that has taken thousands of years to perfect and is still evolving. With continuous research, advancing technological developments, and the evolving expertise of professionals, the process continues to change to overcome the different challenges and conditions we face today. While it's evident that all these advancements have impacted shipbuilding practices, we are still learning and utilising the principles set by our ancestor's hundreds of years ago.


PHASEZERO collaborate with Naval Activity to design and build modern ships!




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