Naval architecture firm offers engineering expertise to yards, government
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
Decline in Design
component that has been subjected to severe loads.
“Similarly, under the CG 47-class
[Ticonderoga guided-missile cruiser]
modernization programs, Gibbs &
Cox has provided structural analysis
and design support for the structural
repairs and strengthening for CG 52
and follow[ing] ships undergoing
modernization,” Johnson said.
G&C has not abandoned new
ship design. It is a member of a team
designing a proposal for the Navy’s
Ship-to-Shore Connector program.
But its current growth is outside of its traditional role.
G&C’s outreach received a boost when the Pakistani
Navy frigate Alamgir — the ex-USS McInerney, a G&C-designed ship that had been decommissioned and turned
over to Pakistan — lost a section of its bow when it ran
into a pier in Jacksonville, Fla., in late January 2011.
“Having worked with the manager down at BAE
[Southeast Shipyards] in Jacksonville, and the contract
owner, VSE Corp., we worked something out so that I
was able to send down the navarch [naval architect],”
said Rick Biben, president and chief executive officer of
Gibbs & Cox. “Within four hours, we had somebody on
site. That weekend, we designed the cofferdam. We were
able to work out between BAE and Bath Iron Works —
they had an extra piece of steel — we were able to get
the ship up and out within about a month.”
The cofferdam built for Alamgir was a wooden
structure that fit like a glove to the bow. With an
adjustment in the ballast on the ship, the bow was lift-
ed up, allowing the cofferdam to create a dry space and
a flotation area so repair work could be performed
without having to put the ship in a dry dock.
The work on the Alamgir spurred a discussion with
BAE Systems Ship Repair for more cooperation. On Nov.
17, G&C signed a professional services agreement with
BAE Systems Ship Repair that would allow any of the six
Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship designer Gibbs & Cox provides
ship engineering services to repair yards and small shipyards.
; The decline in demand for new ships drives expansion into providing services for small companies.
; The company has opened a new office and increased staff to
meet the demand for services.
; Naval architects rapidly respond to urgent needs.
The decline in the number of new ship designs for the U.S. Navy has influenced independent naval architecture and engineering firms to
broaden their horizons by freelancing their expertise to
the ship repair industry and shipyards too small to
maintain their own engineering staffs.
Gibbs & Cox (G&C), an Arlington, Va.-based firm,
made a decision three years ago to expand its engineering services to government agencies, commercial shipyards and ship repair companies.
G&C was the ship designer for Lockheed Martin’s
Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) team and
remains involved in design changes and engineering
services at the Fincantieri Marine Group’s Marinette
Marine shipyard in Marinette, Wis., where the
Freedom class is being built. G&C also provides engineering services directly to the Navy.
“Gibbs & Cox was the lead ship designer for the
DDG 51-class [Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroy-er] and they continue to provide key engineering support to Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in
maintaining and extending the capabilities of these
ships,” said Chris Johnson, a NAVSEA spokesman.
“This includes strengthening ship structure and foundations for new combat systems equipment or providing strengthening modifications for any structural