MARCH 22, 2016
By Dan Spurr
Lifetime achievement awards generally are given to persons retired or about to be. The announcement that the Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers (SNAME) had awarded Donald L. Blount, 80, with the 2015 David W. Taylor medal for “Notable Achievement in Naval Architecture and/or Marine Engineering” dovetailed nicely with the December 1 news that the naval architecture firm of Gibbs & Cox had acquired Donald L. Blount & Associates (DLBA).
According to a press release from Gibbs & Cox, chief executive Rick Biben said, “With this key strategic acquisition, Gibbs & Cox continues our strategy aligned to provide high-performance marine craft solutions to our military and paramilitary clients, as well as continued expansion of our commercial market areas in engineering, design, and construction management of vessels including megayachts, commercial craft, and production boats. We will continue to identify and pursue other candidate companies to further expand our vision. Our agreement with DLBA further solidifies Gibbs & Cox’s industry leadership role in the design and development of some of the most prestigious and capable maritime craft afloat today.”
Donald Blount offered similar platitudes: “DLBA’s new association with Gibbs & Cox will significantly enhance DLBA’s depth and breadth in providing timely and quality high-performance marine solutions to our worldwide market, while continuing to foster and maintain our important and close relationships with our clients.”
Following a career with the U.S. Navy, where he managed the Combatant Craft Department, Blount formed DLBA in 1988 “as a naval architecture and marine engineering firm, specializing in the technical development of high-performance marine craft consulting services related to the design, evaluation, testing, and construction management of motor yachts, custom sportfishing boats, production boats, commercial, military and paramilitary vessels.” He has been a periodic contributor to PBB. A major achievement was development of the 222‘ (67.7m) Destriero, which set recordws crossing the Atlantic from New York to England in 58 hours, 34 minutes, averaging 53.09 knots. The story is chronicled in PBB Nos. 109 and 110. In 2014 he published a book containing much of his extensive research: Performance by Design: Hydrodynamics for High-Speed Vessels.
The press release also describes Gibbs & Cox as “a global leader in maritime engineering and design, with nearly 7,000 vessels designed to our standards since 1929. Gibbs & Cox supports military and commercial clients in the U.S. and internationally with all phases of marine design, construction, and life cycle management.”
Also of note, and possibly of more interest to PBB readers, is the company’s 1960 publication of the Marine Design Manual for Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic, perhaps the ultimate refutation of beliefs that boatbuilders of that era didn’t know much about the physical properties of fiberglass and so based scantlings on their experience with wood construction.
The recognition award Blount received from SNAME was established in 1935 and may be given annually, but not more often.
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