Commander Louis Daniel Chirillo, USN, Ret.
April 27, 1923 – March 01, 2016

Louis Daniel Chirillo died peacefully in his home on March 1st, 2016.

Lou was born April 27, 1923 in Brooklyn, New York to Daniel John Chirillo and Catherina Marie Primavera. He was raised with his older brother August Richard Chirillo and younger sister Jean Theresa Pizzuto. It was in Brooklyn that he met the love of his life, Rhoda Joan Brock, and married on December 26th, 1948.

As a young child Lou developed a deep and lasting passion for the sea and all things related but his greatest love was his family. Through them and friends he developed and shared interests in the marine, humanities, Civil War history, Japanese culture and gardening, written anecdotes and travels.

Lou fell in love with ocean-going ships before 1930 when steamship whistles could be heard across Brooklyn. On 6 December 1941, the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor, he sat for admission to the U.S. Maritime Commission Cadet Corps and was admitted six weeks later. In mid 1943 he became an officer within the United States Navy. After serving in every theater of the war and graduating from Kings Point in 1943, Mr. Chirillo earned his unlimited chief engineer’s license in 1947.

He earned degrees from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the University of Louisville, and the MIT Graduate School. He attended the US Navy Diving School and was involved with every research center in U.S. Navy service. Attaining the rank of Commander USN, he has been extensively published in The Journal of Ship Production, The Naval Engineers Journal, The Naval Institute Proceedings and other naval publications. In 1981 he was the first recipient of the SNAME William M. Kennedy Award, and in 1985 received The American Society of Naval Engineers Solberg Award.

During his 22-year career in the United States Navy, he served as an Engineering Officer for U.S. Navy ships, then Port Engineer overseeing construction and maintenance, and finally Principal Officer overseeing naval construction and conversion in private yards of virtually all types of naval craft, including the U.S. Navy’s first Guided Missile Destroyer. He acquired his first insight into the Japanese shipbuilding industry when he went to Japan in 1963 with an inspection team for the mid-bodies needed to jumboize U.S. Navy tankers.

In 1971 Lou welcomed his assignment as the Research and Development Program Manager for the U.S. National Shipbuilding Research Program focusing on Outfitting and Production Aids. Later, when the Ship Production Committee was created under the aegis of the Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers, he served as chair of Panel SP-2 with the same focus.

Lou realized that shipbuilding production gains could only come with new management methods. He investigated shipyards around the world and identified Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) of Japan as the most effective shipyard management system in the world. Panel SP-2, during his stewardship, in conjunction with IHI, produced the much-copied U.S. National Shipbuilding Research Program publications that are today’s modern shipbuilding foundation.
Lou has lectured throughout the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, China and Poland. He was invited to speak before a U.S. Congressional committee and his publication Product Work Breakdown Structure, to his knowledge, is the only U.S. National Shipbuilding Research Program publication completely reprinted in the record of a hearing before a Congressional committee. He donated the entirety of his work, including manuscripts, photos and presentations to the University of Michigan and they are available online at

Commander Chirillo’s work helped transform shipyards worldwide. 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 readily acknowledged that his work owed much to others such as: 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; and Peter Drucker, the management guru for in-house product orientation, and his close friends at Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries. For those of us who knew him, he will live on in our hearts through the lessons he lived in front of us.

His impact on the world of shipbuilding, which he loved so dearly, will continue to be felt through his written word. He took great joy seeing the adoption by the young engineers who will stand on his shoulders, of the modern shipbuilding techniques he developed and taught throughout the world.

Lou enjoyed his retirement years being with his wife and family, meticulously caring for his Japanese garden and swapping stories and jokes with all his dearly loved members of his writers’ group. In ten years’ time he missed only one weekly writers’ meeting.

He will be missed by the many lives he touched, but not forgotten.

Lou is survived by his wife Rhoda, sister Jean, daughter-in-law Kayoko Iwai, son James and daughter-in-law Valerie, daughter Gina and son-in-law Brad, son Dan and daughter-in-law Kayoko Ogimoto, and son Louis. He is further survived by six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Lou is predeceased by son Richard.

Date: 03/04/2016
Name: Seyed Ali Farkhondeh
From: Tehran, Tehran Iran
Message: It is the only debt Man cannot avoid in life to pay to the Nature!
Lost a Friend,
Shipbuilding teacher
and fellow marine engineer
May he rest in peace.”

Date: 03/03/2016
Name: IWAI Family
From: Sakura, Chiba Pref. Japan
Message: He was a very wonderful man, and his smartness, sincerity, patience and calmness as well as sense of humor impressed us so much that we could never be enough to be his match. We are sending our deepest condolences, and our heart stays with you. We miss him.