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D Andrews


As part of writing a short article entitled “Ship Design – From Art to Science?” [1] for the Institution’s 150th anniversary celebratory volume [2], the author consulted the Institution’s centenary book by K C Barnaby [3] to get a feel for the formative first hundred years of ship design recorded in the learned papers presented to the Institution. This consultation was motivated by consideration of the papers in the first volume of the Transactions of 1860, which, surprisingly, contained no papers directly on ship design, either on ship design in general or through describing the design intent behind a specific new ship. Rather, like the very first paper by Reverend J Woolley, the remaining 1860 papers concerned themselves with what could be called the application of science (and mathematics) to the practice of naval architecture as an engineering discipline. However this initial focus broadened out in subsequent volumes of the Transactions so that both technical descriptions of significant new ship designs and, more recently, papers on the general practice of ship design have also figured, alongside the presentation of progress in the science of naval architecture.

Given that the vast bulk of ships built over this period have been designed like most buildings to a set pattern, or as we naval architects would say based on a (previous) “type ship”, those designs presented in the Institution’s Transactions, and the few other collections of learned societies’ papers, are largely on designs that have been seen to be of particular merit in their novelty and importance. Therefore this review looks at the developments in ship design by drawing on those articles in the Transactions that are design related. In doing so the papers have been conveniently broken down into the three, quite momentous, half centuries over which the Institution has existed. From this historical survey, it is then appropriate to consider how the practice of ship design may develop in the foreseeable future.

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