In Remembrance of George S. Hazen, 1951-2020

With the passing of George Hazen on December 23, 2020, Orca3D, LLC lost a founding member, good friend, mentor, and brilliant mind. The maritime industry has lost a pioneer, a naval architect who was as comfortable working on theory as on application. Most importantly, his family has lost a loving and dedicated son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all of them. 

Throughout his long career in naval architecture, George was involved with many different types of vessels, including sailing yacht design and multiple America’s Cup campaigns, as well as playing a key role in the hull design of the US Navy’s DDG-1000 destroyer and most recently the FFG(X) Constellation-class frigate. He designed the Dickerson 37 and was later able to acquire and sail the Dickerson 37 hull #1. In addition to sailing, George was an avid rower, a talented guitarist, and as a young man obtained his glider pilot’s license before his driver’s license. No matter the task or challenge at hand, George always kept a positive and friendly attitude.

George attended Princeton University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering. After graduation he worked on the F-16 fighter jet, learning lessons in computational fluid dynamics and stability that he would apply throughout his career. While at MIT earning a master’s degree in naval architecture, he worked on the H. Irving Pratt Project, helping to develop one of the first sailboat velocity prediction programs (VPP) and acquiring a love for computer programming that would be a hallmark of his career (this VPP later became the foundation of the international Measurement System, or IMS). After graduation he was hired by C&C Yachts in Ontario to help modernize the tools and techniques of their design office. His specialty there included design of the all-important keel and rudder lifting surfaces, and he also designed the Boston Whaler Harpoon 5.2 daysailer. Frustrated with the slow rate of adoption of new design technologies, he moved to Annapolis, Maryland and started a new business where he wrote his own VPP. With the VPP, he provided consulting services to leading racing yacht designers around the world, and also began to expand his suite of software tools. With a partner he developed this suite into Fast Yacht, a revolutionary integrated software package that ran on a desktop computer, providing a level of computer-aided hull form design and analysis capabilities to yacht designers that was not even in use by the US Navy at that time. George was among the earliest pioneers in applying NURBS surface mathematics together with an intuitive CAD interface to allow the efficient creation of hull forms of all shapes and sizes, as well as precise hydrostatic and stability analysis for these designs.  Soon after the release of Fast Yacht, the US Navy took notice and FastShip was born. Eventually, FastShip would be used by navies, ship and yacht designers and builders, universities, and research facilities around the world. FastShip was followed by the Rhino plug-in RhinoMarine, and after that by Orca3D

George was the founder or partner in four successful companies (the most recent being Orca3D, LLC). Perhaps most notable was Design Systems & Services where Fast Yacht and FastShip were born, which was eventually sold to a large engineering firm, which itself was later acquired. George mentored many young engineers during his career, and many of them stayed with him through multiple changes of company. He attracted a loyal group of talented, motivated naval architects, and always had interesting and challenging projects for them. George had an uncanny knack for finding practical and effective solutions to unusual hydrodynamic design problems.  In the early days of the Navy’s DD(X) program (later to become the DDG 1000 program), it became clear that a new software tool for predicting the motions of the non-traditional tumblehome hull shape in high sea states would be necessary. The Navy came to George and his team to develop the Tempest seakeeping software, which brought together advanced theory, first-principles engineering, high performance computing, and a large development team to create a tool which would supplement a model testing program to ensure that the ship could operate safely in extreme seas, protecting our sailors.

While he did not consider himself a mathematician, a hallmark of George’s career was his ability to apply mathematics to create practical software tools that could be used easily by other naval architects. His creations were not ivory tower research projects; they often became commercial-grade software tools that are used today by thousands of designers and builders around the world. In addition to these tools, George was noted for the engineering insights he was able to offer to designers on their projects; he was once accurately called “a naval architect’s naval architect.”

We are honored to have been part of the journey with George for over 30 years. We are grateful for all we have learned from George about naval architecture, practical applications for advanced mathematics, business, and so much more. His influence will continue on in our software and in our business. He will be sorely missed, but he and his contributions to our lives and to this industry will not be forgotten.

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By (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works/Released)