Case Studies

George G. Sharp Inc.

93 Years of Revolutionary Marine Systems Analysis & Design

Since 1920, George G. Sharp (SHARP) has been setting the industry standard for the professional practice of naval architecture, marine engineering and design. The New York City-based company has pioneered the industry, developing first-of-a-kind designs and marine structures for commercial and military use. “We’re the oldest naval architectural firm in the country,” notes Allen Chin, P.E., and president of SHARP. “We have prepared the designs for over 1,500 vessels and 300 ship conversions in the last 93 years.”
Making Waves and a Big Impression
The ground-breaking company was formed by George Gillies Sharp, chief surveyor of the American Bureau of Shipping. SHARP quickly established itself with successful early designs of excursion steamers and merchant ships, such as the original Four Aces for American Export Lines.
By the early 1930s, the company had earned a reputation for creative ship design, especially in fire controls. In 1943, the Department of Commerce commissioned SHARP to design a series of standard-type merchant ships, which would become the prototypes for the Maritime Commission program, set in place by the Merchant Marine Act of 1936.
During World War II SHARP played a pivotal role in the nation’s massive emergency ship construction program by designing over 600 vessels, including the 414 Victory merchant ships and numerous naval auxiliaries. After the war, SHARP continued to turn out imaginative, first-of-its-kind designs.
“We designed the world’s first container ship called the S.S. Gateway City in 1957, followed by the USNS Comet, the first roll-on, roll-off vehicle carrying supporting ship in 1958,” reveals Chin. However, one of SHARP’s most significant contributions to the shipping industry came in 1962 with the design and development of the NS Savannah.
“The NS Savannah was the world’s first nuclear powered merchant ship,” adds Chin. “It was constructed in 1962 at the New York Camden Shipyard in Camden, New Jersey, but it’s now retired as at a museum in Baltimore. We won the Elmer H. Sperry Ferry Award for the design.”
A New Era of Economic, Cost-effective Design
Today, SHARP remains dedicated to innovative marine design. The only significant changes are advancements in design technology and a focus on economic, safe, cost-effective low-pollution ship systems and marine structures. “We have remained based in New York City, but now we also have a location in Norfolk, Va., where we do habitability improvements for naval vessels,” notes Chin. “We also have a location in Arlington, Va., that focuses on the Coast Guard and sale of U.S. Naval Ships to foreign governments and another habitability improvement facility in San Diego.”
SHARP still attracts some of the largest clients in the shipping industry, from the New York City Ferry division to the U.S. Navy, the Coast Guard and the Military Sea Lift Command. “We prefer design work because that’s our strong suit, but lately we have been doing more hands-on habitability improvements on Navy ships,” shares Chin. “Every two or three years these vessels require improvements such as new lockers, beds, sheet metal bulkheads, cabinets and kitchen and galley upgrades.”
On the design side, SHARP’s most recent major project was the famous Staten Island Ferries, which transport thousands of commuters every day. The company prepared the concept, design and contract design for three new Molinari-class Staten Island Ferries. “The three new ferries, at 310 feet long, each carry 4,400 passengers and can carry 30 motor vehicles,” details Chin.
SHARP designed the ferries to be very safe, easy to maneuver and efficient, keeping in mind the demanding daily time schedule. “We also designed them for low good fuel consumption,” explains Chin. “They have three diesel engines, standard propellers, rudders and shafting, which saves the city a lot of money in fuel costs.”
In addition to the Molinari-class ferries, SHARP also designed two Barberi-class Staten Island ferries. The two ferries can each carry 6,000 passengers, offering a stable ride and safety measures such as counter-terrorism equipment. “We have proposals in the works on more ferry projects in Virginia and Martha’s Vineyard,” reveals Chin. “We also have a contract with the New York City Department of Transportation. We do the upkeep of seven of their ferries, from improved design to maintenance.”
SHARP continues to attract some of the biggest names in the shipping industry based on a solid reputation and history of innovative, trusted design and engineering. “If we can develop a ship with high-quality design, good safety provisions, economic fuel economy, less pollution causing features and it still does the job it was supposed to do well; it’s a win-win,” adds Chin.
Chin and his team take great pride in SHARP’s reputation and history. “If we didn’t have landmark projects like the NS Savannah, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Chin says. George G. Sharp continues to pioneer the analysis and design of improved marine systems, adding to nearly a century of proven results and solid ships.

Published on: March 7, 2014

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