Chris B. McKesson, P.E.

Adjunct Professor



Office: EN 934
Phone: 504-280 7184 or 360-731-3203


Education:  BScE, NAME, University of Michigan (1979)
MSE, NAME, University of New Orleans (2010)
Licensed Professional Engineer (Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering),
State of Washington Department of Licensing. Registration No 31936, 1994

Employment History

  • 2009 - present:
    University of New Orleans
    Adjunct Professor of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
  • 2005 - 2009:
    Alion Science & Technology, Inc -- Alexandria VA
    Senior Engineering Science Advisor - Unconventional Naval Architecture
  • 1997 - 2005:
    John J. McMullen Associates, Inc. -- Silverdale, WA
    Program Manager
  • 1992 - 1997:
    Art Anderson Associates, Inc. -- Bremerton, Washington
    Principal - Commercial Marine Division
  • 1991 - 1992:
    Chris B. McKesson - "Consulting in Naval Architecture" -- San Diego, California
  • 1984 - 1991:
    Naval Sea Systems Command -- Arlington, VA
    Section Head - Advanced Vehicles Section
  • 1989 - 1990:
    Service Technique des Constructions et Armes Navales -- Paris, France.
    US Exchange Engineer
  • 1980 - 1984:
    John J. McMullen Associates, Inc. -- Arlington, VA
    Senior Naval Architect


  • San Diego Yacht Club (since 1976)
  • Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, Associate Member (since 1980)
  • Member of Technical and Research Panel SD-5 on Advanced Hull Forms
  • Member of Technical and Research Panel O-36 on Transportation Economics
  • Member of Technical and Research Panel SC-2 on Small Commercial Craft
  • Royal Institution of Naval Architects (since 2000)
  • Canadian Institute of Marine Engineering, Member (since 1998 - Lapsed 2006)
  • American Society of Naval Engineers, Associate Member (since 1983 - Lapsed 2005)

Research Interests

Mr. McKesson has thirty years experience, focusing primarily on unconventional projects and programs. He has held many positions of responsibility during his career as a Naval Architect, ranging from managing a small design bureau to representing the United States as technical expert to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He has represented the state-of-the-art in ship design to staff of the United States Congress, and he has represented his company before clients, and the clients before their customers.

Whereas in early days "unconventional projects" tended to mean an emphasis on speed, in recent years it has included unconventional propulsion systems, or an 'unconventional' emphasis on environmental stewardship. McKesson has completed several projects dealing with marine environmental issues, including a multi-year study of alternative fuels and alternative propulsion systems for the San Francisco Bay Area Water Transit Authority (2000-2001), the design of a fuel-cell powered ferry also for the WTA (2001-2002), and the assessment of environmental impacts of a new ferry class for the Washington State Ferries (2004).

On a smaller scale McKesson was also intimately involved in the test-bed installation of gas turbines in a 40-ft V-bottom craft. The purpose of this installation was to demonstrate the replacement of the craft's 750 hp gasoline-fueled engines with diesel-fueled gas turbines. This project was accomplished as a subcontractor to a Seattle-based turbine specialist. At the other extreme, McKesson has recently completed his second project addressing the economics of nuclear propulsion for large container ships.

High speed vessels remain of interest. McKesson was the hull form development specialist for the Raytheon SES Littoral Combat Ship for the US Navy. He has also lead the installation of transom wedges on VICTORIA CLIPPER III, which resulted in a 3 to 5 knot speed gain for this 25-knot catamaran. He also led, for the Government of the Province of British Columbia, a detailed technical assessment of the new PACIFICAT 122-meter 34-knot fast ferry. This ferry was delivered late and amid allegations of technical inadequacy, and JJMA was contracted to assess the quality of the ship. This project included directing the survey team, editing the 100-page survey report, and even holding a televised press conference to brief the results of the assessment.

McKesson and his wife Debra live full-time aboard their Columbia 36 sailboat, currently in the Puget Sound.

The combination of a love of the sea, an appreciation for and understanding of the needs of the seaman, and technical training as a naval architect gives him a unique balance of skills.


(Many are available on-line at
  • 2011 "Scaling Of Resistance From Surface-Effect Ship Model Tests" (In preparation) with Dr. Lawrence J. Doctors FAST 2011, Honolulu, HI
  • 2011 "The Use of Transport Factor as a Very Simple Model for Ship Design" (In preparation) FAST 2011, Honolulu, HI
  • 2011 "The Utility of Very Simple Models for Very Complex Systems" SCS M&S Magazine – The magazine of the Society for Modeling & Simulation International, Vol 11 Issue 1 January 2011
  • 2009 "Counter Intuitive Systems Engineering" Invited speaker at the Systems Engineering Colloqium of the Naval PostGraduate Shcool, Monterey CA.
  • 2009 "The Practical Design of Advanced Marine Vehicles" Textbook for School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering course NAME 4177. This book is a 368-page textbook providing journeyman skills in the design of catamarans, trimarans, and Surface Effect Ships. It is delivered including a CD containing scanned images of most of the 42 numbered references cited in the text.2006 "A Parametric Method for Characterizing the Design Space of High Speed Cargo Ships" Presented to The Royal Institution of Naval Architects conference on High Speed Craft, ADVs, WIGs and Hydrofoils, October/November 2006, London UK.
  • 2006 "A Parametric Method for Characterizing the Design Space of High Speed Cargo Ships" Presented to The Royal Institution of Naval Architects conference on High Speed Craft, ADVs, WIGs and Hydrofoils, October/November 2006, London UK.
  • 2006 "Alternative Fuels for Green Purposes - Marine Industry Perspective" Presented to Marine Log "GREEN SHIP 2006" Washington DC, September 2006
  • 2006 "The Resistance Components of a Surface-Effect Ship" Dr. Lawrence Doctors principal author. Presented to The Twenty-Sixth Symposium on Naval Hydrodynamics, Rome, Italy, September 2006
  • 2005 "Greening the Fleet - Environmental Analysis of Washington State Ferries New 130 Auto Ferries" Co-Authored with Tina Stotz, W Greg Johnson, and David H Humphreys. Presented (by Ms. Stotz) to Green Marine 2005, Victoria BC, June 2005, Canadian Institution of Marine Engineers
  • 2005 "Optimization of a Split-Cushion Surface-Effect Ship" Co-Authored with Dr. Lawrence J Doctors, Vidar Tregde, Changben Jiang. Presented (by Dr. Doctors) at FAST 2005 - Eight International Conference on Fast Sea Transportation, St. Petersburg RU, 27-30 June 2005.
  • 2005 "The Greening of Passenger Vessels" Co-Authored with Mr. Tom Risley. Presented at "Ferries for the New Millenium", SNAME Northern California Section, Vallejo CA, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers May 2005.
  • 2002 "Alternative Fuels and Alternative Propulsion Systems" presented to Western Region meeting of the Passenger Vessel Association, Anchorage AK September 2002
  • 2002 "Nuclear Propulsion in High-Performance Cargo Vessels" Co-Authored with Dr. Julio Vergara. SNAME Marine Technology January 2002 Vol 39 No 1.
  • 2002 "A Simplified Economic Investigation of Nuclear Power for Merchant Ships" SNAME Northern California Section Maritime Innovations conference, Monterey CA, 1 June 2002
  • 2002 "High Speed Hull Forms" presented to national annual meeting of the Passenger Vessel Association, Biloxi MS February 2002
  • 2001 "Expect the Unexpected - The Economic Consequences of Unforeseen Operational Realities" presentation at SNAME Annual Meeting as part of panel presentation by T&R Panel O-36 on operational economics. Orlando FL, October 2001
  • 2000 "Ferry Environmental Impact" Co-Authored with Bill Remley PE and Zvi Karni. Presented at Canadian Institute of Marine Engineers High Performance Vehicles conference, June 2000, Victoria, BC Canada.
  • 1999 "When the whole is less than the sum of its parts" Co-Authored with R. Hatton, R. Scher, & S. Toby.
  • 1998 "Sensitivity Study Of Wake Wash To Hull Form Variations" Co-Authored with Robert Hatton. Paper presented at Canadian Institute of Marine Engineers High Performance Vehicles conference, May 1998, Victoria, BC Canada.
  • 1998 "The Feasibility of Fast Sealift" originally published on-line at http:/ (No longer online - available upon request.)
  • 1998 "Analysis of the Impact of Reliability, Availability and Maintainability on Ship Survivability" Co-authored with Alexander Malakhoff and David Klinkhamer. Presented in September 1998 to the Norwegian Society of Chartered Engineers Conference on High Speed Ferries, Denmark - Oslo
  • 1998 "Green Stealth" published March 1998 Work Boat World
  • 1997 Editor "Hull Form and Propulsor Technology for High Speed Sealift" Under contract for David Taylor Model Basin. Available on-line at
  • 1997 "An Introduction to the United States' Regulatory Environment" Co-authored with LCDR Ron Lokites, USCG. Paper presented at FAST 97 in Sydney Australia
  • 1996 "Research on a Large SES for the TransAtlantic Record" Prepared for the SOLE Advanced Marine Vehicles Symposium, Silverdale Washington
  • 1996 "Gas Turbine Repower of the 40m Ferry Victoria Clipper IV" Paper presented to International Marine Transit Association
  • 1996 "High Speed Cargo Ship Trends" Invited presentation to the International Association of Ports and Harbours meeting in Algeciras, Spain.
  • 1995 "Superyacht Design - An Industry Perspective" Published in The Wood Report, October 1995.
  • 1992 "Patrol Craft Requirements and Technology for the Next Century" Co-authored with MM Oakes, Guilfoyle, Scott, Cohen & Hoggard. Presented at SNAME / ASE Naval Ship Design Symposium, Arlington VA February 25 1992
  • 1992 "A Collection of Simplified Field Equations for Surface Effect Ship Design" Intersociety Advanced Marine Vehicles Symposium, June 1992, Washington DC.
  • 1989 "Large SWATHS - A Study of the diminishing returns of increasing SWATH ship size" Co-authored with Tom Cannon. AIAA Advanced Marine Vehicles Symposium, San Diego, CA