I cannot say that I was impressed when I first met John J. (Jack) Garvey in 1971. At that time long hair was vogue among civil servants in Washington D.C. and Jack’s mane certainly didn’t cause anyone to mistake him for Prince Valiant. At first sight I was not expecting anything profound from the Government bureaucrat.

I do not believe that the management in the shipyard where I was then employed was enthused about participating in the cost-sharing U.S. Government/Industry National Shipbuilding Program (NSRP) that Jack was promoting for the Maritime Administration (MarAd). I sensed that the yard’s managers agreed to participate for two reasons. First, MarAd’s good will would be necessary for participation in any future subsidy programs. Second, it was an opportunity to sidetrack me away from the yard’s internal activities. Because of my education and experience I was believed by some to be a threat to their advancement. The two-year complicated shipbuilding effort for which I had been the project engineer, had just been successfully completed and there wasn’t another large-scope such project in sight. Thus, I was loaned to MarAd.

I continued to occupy an office in the shipyard, but the funding for my salary, fringe benefits, travel expenses, and for the costs of research projects was provided by MarAd. Jack had become my de-facto boss.

As the newly assigned NSRP project manager for the Outfitting and Production Aids category, I asked about what I was expected of me. Jack responded, “Do whatever you have to do to make the U.S. shipbuilding industry more productive.”

Thus for the first time I was bound only by my considerable, mostly Navy-funded, education and my three decades of afloat and ashore marine-industry experiences.

What I eventually achieved during the next sixteen years was recognized by awards from The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and from The American Society of Naval Engineers. Moreover, my research end products and pertinent professional papers came to the attention of government officials and shipyard managers in other countries. As a consequence, during another decade I was retained by foreign governments and private firms.

Thus thanks to Jack Garvey, the last phase of my career was challenging, interesting, exciting, successful and rewarding.

In addition, I acquired a close friend.

Louis D. Chirillo


Copyright © 2006 (text only) by Louis D. Chirillo

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