Five Decades of Innovation

In 1963 Robert N. Herbert, Naval Architects opened for business. Bob Herbert started this venture with a clear vision of the type of work he wanted to do, and most importantly, how he wanted to do business. His keen sense for innovation, and his honest, straightforward manner helped build long term relationships with his clients.

These clients wanted the best, most competitive ships for their services. To gain that competitive edge, they realized that sometimes new and different approaches are needed. They also understood that ships are just one part of the total transportation system. To truly optimize the movement of cargoes, the entire system must be considered.

An example of this systems approach to transportation is the design of the first open-hatch bulk carriers for Crown Zellerbach. These ships efficiently utilized other newly developed pieces of the system such as cargo handling gear, storage facilities, securing equipment, unitizing concepts, packaging methods, terminal layout, and stevedoring services. HEC has also been involved in the design of subsequent generations of open-hatch vessels, and has introduced many innovations and refinements to the original design. Today, open-hatch ships are firmly established as the stardard for trans-oceanic carriage of forest products.

As the business grew, Bob realized it was important to provide his employees with a stake in the company. The company was incorporated as Herbert Engineering Corp. in 1975, with all shares owned by employees who actively participate in the company’s management. This was a bold step, but helped attract and keep talented people who wanted challenges and responsibilities.

Over the ensuing years, most of our newbuilding projects have involved cargo ships, including containerships, break-bulk carriers, ro-ro’s, tankers, and barges. Nearly all of these designs have been double-hulled, and all of the vessels incorporate high standards of safety and environmental performance. Representative projects include open-hatch ships for the Weyerhauser Company, the first high-DWT ro-ros for carriage of forest products and autos for Seaboard Shipping, the first post-PANAMAX containerships for APL, and the first conversion of a conventional containership to a hatchless containership for Matson Navigation Company. Each design was developed in close cooperation with the client’s technical staff.

During the mid-1970′s, HEC developed naval architectural and ship design software for in-house use. Initially mainframe-based, the software was converted for use on HP9845 microcomputers in the late 1970′s, and then to PC’s during the mid-1980′s. This software, originally developed to allow our engineers to more effectively and efficiently evaluate ship designs, became the basis for our shipboard loading, design, and salvage software products.

Our first CargoMax loading program was installed on ro-ro’s and bulk carriers in 1979. In 1981, Chevron Shipping committed to CargoMax on a fleet wide basis. This breakthrough was followed by fleet sales to other major shipping companies, including ARCO, BP, and SeaLand. The first WINDOWS version of CargoMax was installed by STOLT on their chemical carriers in 1995. Over the years, our clients have provided invaluable input towards the continued enhancement of CargoMax.

After transferring our design software to the PC, we began selling the software (HECSDS) in response to interest from shipping companies and other design firms. HECSDS was menu driven with graphical interfaces, making it easy to learn and use. In 1988, the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage was looking for a PC based salvage engineering tool, and selected HECSDS as the platform. This led to the development of the salvage engineering program POSSE for the U.S. Navy, and our HECSALV commercial salvage engineering package. POSSE was developed in close cooperation with the U.S. Navy, and has benefited from their extensive salvage experience.