Lou Chirillo started his love affair with ocean-going ships before 1930 when steamship whistles could be heard clear across Brooklyn. On 6 December 1941, the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor and while still a senior in Brooklyn Technical High School, Lou sat for the competitive examination for admission to the U.S. Maritime Commission Cadet Corps, was admitted six weeks later, witnessed its transformation into the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and, after a brief indoctrination, on 26 February 1942 signed on a hastily converted passenger liner that hauled troops to Australia, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, and North Africa.
Subsequent wartime and peacetime service was as an engineering officer in U.S. Navy ships, followed by ship repair experience in naval shipyards and ship construction experiences in both naval and private shipyards. He also served as a material officer (port engineer) responsible for the maintenance of twenty-seven steamships, and as the principal officer for overseeing naval construction and conversion in private yards, of virtually all types of naval craft, excepting only submarines and aircraft carriers. In the latter capacity he acquired his first insight into the Japanese shipbuilding industry when he went to Japan in 1963 in order to set up an inspection team for the midbodies needed to jumboize two U.S. Navy tankers.
Lou Chirillo earned a third-assistant engineer’s license (steam and diesel unlimited horsepower) in 1943 and a chief engineer’s license (steam unlimited horsepower) in 1947. He received degrees from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (BSc), the University of Louisville (AA), and the MIT Graduate School (NavE).
So prepared by experience and education, in 1971 Lou welcomed the assignment as a R&D Project Manager for the U.S. National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP) and was given the catchall category, Outfitting and Production Aids. Later, when the Ship Production Committee was created under the aegis of the Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers (SNAME), he became the chairman of its Panel SP-2 that had the same area of concern. Thus, he had a hand in proposing subjects to be researched as well as overseeing implementation of the research.
Lou soon realized that outfitting could not be substantially improved without improving management methods. He took advantage of opportunities to investigate in European and Japanese shipyards and identified Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) of Japan as having the most effective shipyard management system. Thus, Panel SP-2, during his stewardship, oversaw a series of research subcontracts that were awarded to IHI. The end products were the much-copied NSRP publications that describe IHI’s shipbuilding approach.
Lou also traced the history of IHI’s managerial style and disclosed contributions made by Elmer Hann, a Kaiser Shipyard manager during World War II; W. Edwards Deming, whose teaching of statistical methods led to IHI’s development of statistical accuracy control applied for hull construction and pipe-piece production; and Peter Drucker, the management guru for in-house product orientation. The booklets helped transform some North American shipyards (as described in the Shipbuilding Pictures Database at NSnet.com) and were also exploited by a few European and Asian shipbuilders, most notably in Spain and China. Further the Preface of the 1988 book Ship Production advises, “Mr. Chirillo is the driving force behind the identification and documentation of the shipbuilding logic and principles that form the framework of the system presented in this text. His manuscripts, including ‘Outfit Planning,’ ‘Product Work Breakdown Structure,’ ‘Integrated Hull Construction, Outfitting, and Painting,’ ‘Process Analysis Via Accuracy Control,’ ‘Design for Zone Outfitting,’ and ‘Line Heating’ were used extensively in Chapters III, IV, Vi, VII, and VIII. The logic developed in those works permeates the entire text.”
Lou has lectured in many cities in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, China and Poland. He is proud of the fact that he was invited to speak before a U.S. Congressional committee and that the publication Product Work Breakdown Structure (NSRP No. 0164), to his knowledge, is the only NSRP publication that is completely reprinted in the record of a hearing before a Congressional committee.
Lou Chirillo’s many papers and discussions are published in The Journal of Ship Production, The Naval Engineers Journal, The Naval Institute Proceedings, etc. In 1981 he was the first recipient of the SNAME William M. Kennedy Award, and he received The American Society of Naval Engineers Solberg Award for 1985.