Naval architect

What they do

A naval architect is responsible for directing the design, construction, maintenance, renovation and operation of marine vessels and offshore structures. They focus on the form, arrangement and stability of marine structures and their movement through water.

Naval architects manage and take responsibility for the activities of a team to ensure that a safe, environmentally sound and seaworthy design is produced. They design a variety of marine structures such as warships, submarines, passenger and cargo ships, cruise liners, yachts, high-speed craft and catamarans.

Working conditions

A naval architect usually works from an office when designing or drawing, although some time may be spent on-site in shipyards, or onboard ships for sea trials in various weather conditions.

Naval architects can work for shipyards, design firms and consultancies, naval classification societies, boat and ship repair companies, oil and gas engineering companies or the Australian Defence Force.

Tools and technologies

Naval architects use drawing and measuring instruments and materials, as well as computer-aided design (CAD) and engineering software packages. They may also use a variety of stands and equipment for making and displaying three-dimensional models of their designs. Naval architects may also supervise emergency underwater repair work on offshore vessels that cannot dock. They may develop and design underwater technology such as computerised buoys and underwater welding and drilling equipment, and underwater robots.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a naval architect, you usually need to study a degree in engineering with a major in naval architecture.

Edith Cowan University offers a four-year Bachelor of Engineering (Naval Architecture) (Honours). This is the only naval architecture degree in Western Australia. The course is run in collaboration with the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania in Launceston, which delivers the final two years of the course. Contact the university for more information.