The Gibbs & Cox Approach to Developing Autonomous and Unmanned Ship Designs our Clients Can Trust

Meeting the needs of our clients and ensuring they receive the highest quality products are our top priorities. In order to provide the highest quality unmanned ship designs and autonomous systems, we partner with innovative, cross-domain Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution providers and reliable, proven shipyards who are our clients can trust.

From initial concept to sustainment and final design, Gibbs & Cox, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, leverages decades of cutting-edge naval architecture with industry leading marine engineering original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to provide our clients with a product they can rely on.

Our customers benefit from our:Unmanned ship designs

  • 90+ years of successful military, commercial, and recreational ship designs.
  • Unmanned Maritime Autonomy Architecture (UMAA) ecosystem.
  • Plug-and-Play technology which prevents AI vendor lock.
  • CYBERSAFE system boundaries and hardened Information Technology and Operational Technology (IT/OT).

How We Apply Marine Autonomy to Complex Situations

When an unmanned ship is expected to perform more than a transit mission between point A and point B, autonomy becomes a much more complex problem. An unmanned military ship is expected to perform the same self-navigation and control functions as an unmanned commercial ship but must also factor in the additional requirements of performing complex mission evolutions in hostile environments. Technical challenges in advancing USV technology include maneuverability, self-maintenance, communication, and cooperative employment of multiple USVs working tougher autonomy. Gibbs & Cox is committed to solving these challenges and advancing the potential of unmanned ship design.

Our Approach to Hull, Mechanical & Electrical (HM&E) Autonomy Integration

To achieve designs capable of long duration missions without human intervention, we collaborate with industry and R&D leaders in HM&E system design. These collaborations provide the necessary reliability and Artificial Intelligence to develop unmanned ships that can monitor, predict, and diagnose performance declines and failures, and then self-adjust its use of available resources to continue meeting ongoing mission requirements.

Below are several features that are key to the integration of HM&E Autonomy Systems. G&C is an experienced provider of each service:

  • Smart actuators (e.g. motorized valves)
  • Four-part Intelligent Fault Management System
  • Prognosis
  • Diagnosis
  • Active learning
  • Reconfiguration

Learn More About Our Approach to Autonomous and Unmanned Ship Designs

What Makes Us Top Naval Architects?

Gibbs & Cox naval architecture expertise draws from nearly 100 years of industry experience and technical development captured in our technical processes and procedures to provide a comprehensive set of design services across a variety of platforms to give our customers quality products.

What Our Naval Architects Can Do For You

Naval ArchitectureOur naval architecture services span the ship’s entire lifetime, from early-stage concept designs through detailed design, shipyard construction support, full lifecycle and sustainment support, ship alterations, and service life extensions. Our team of naval architects and marine engineers transform a set of top-level requirements into concept-level definitions to evaluate technical feasibility, cost and performance.

Our engineers combine the use of in-house proprietary naval architecture tools and state-of-the-art software with an extensive technical library to provide accurate naval architecture assessments to our clients. Our use of alternative solutions, developed in trade-off studies to develop data-informed solutions for the design, result in a higher-fidelity design solution.

A few of the key components and outputs of our design process include:

  • Overall ship sizing studies and feasibility assessments
  • System tradeoff studies
  • Preparation of contract guidance drawings and working drawings
  • Ship checks

A Naval Architecture Firm You Can Rely On

Gibbs & Cox is the largest independent naval architectural firm in the United States and has the resources and processes in place to competitively execute ship designs of all sizes, delivering high-quality products on time and at cost.

Gibbs & Cox’s expertise continues to be sought by shipyards and navies from countries around the world to assist in early-stage studies, contract and design development, and detailed design and production for both new and conversion projects.

Our detail design & construction solutions are highly tailorable to the needs of the program, shipbuilder, and end-customer. Our efforts seek to maximize producibility and affordability while mitigating risk for procurement, planning, construction, test, delivery, and acceptance.

Learn More About How the Naval Architecture Services at Gibbs & Cox Can Suit Your Needs

Pressure Recovery in Overflow Piping due to Siphonic Effects


By: Anthony DeFilippo, P.E.

The purpose of this study is to determine if siphonic effects are able to induce a pressure recovery in ship tank overflow piping in favorable flow conditions. The study will go over key features and flow parameters that will likely produce the siphonic effects and the potential that this knowledge imparts for the design of tank overflow arrangements.

Overflow piping is necessary when filling tanks on a large scale since allowing a closed tank to fill past its capacity will likely exceed its design strength resulting in failure. Investigating if a pressure recovery credit can be taken to minimize or negate the effects of frictional losses can have a positive effect to optimize tank and piping design. An optimized design can reduce cost and weight.

The methods implemented in this study include the use of a Pressure Drop Worksheet which uses the Darcy-Weisbach equation for friction loss through a pipe, a computational fluid dynamics simulation program (Star-CCM+), and a fluid flow analysis and design modeling software (Pipe-Flo Professional). Using these three tools, the effects of siphons on pressure drop can be compared across different flowrates. A baseline will be established in order to ensure that each tool will provide a similar result in a simplified scenario. Star-CCM+ and Pipe-Flo Professional will be tested to ensure that a siphon can actually be modeled within the program. A pressure drop vs. flowrate comparison between the three tools will be established. Future work can be performed to determine how upstream and downstream conditions will affect the magnitude of the siphon.


Figure 16: CFD Volume Fraction at 200 GPM


To learn more about Pressure Recovery in Overflow Piping Due to Siphonic Effects please reach out to Anthony DeFilippo at

Reproduced with permission from the American Society of Naval Engineers.

Developing the Maritime Industry

The maritime industry’s evolving technological trends provide ample opportunity to grow and invest strategically. At Gibbs & Cox, we invest in our people. We encourage all of our staff to be active participants and role models in the STEM community and share their insights with the next generation of maritime industry leaders. Our dedicated team enables G&C to continue innovating after more than nine decades, as we lead the maritime advancements of tomorrow.

As the largest independent naval architecture and marine engineering firm in the United States, we are proud to have the opportunity to present technical concepts, host round tables, publish articles, and work complex programs that give our employees the ability to work on a wide range of projects and travel the world. From naval architecture and marine engineering to program management and software development, we support our employees in exploring their interests and pursuing what drives them, including personal certifications such as PEs and PMPs.

The future of the maritime industry depends on the development and growth of those who have not yet begun their career, which is why we focus on and work with those who are still in the process of completing their education. As the sponsor of this year’s STEM event at ASNE’s Technology, Systems and Ships Symposium, on January 26, we look forward to connecting with all of you virtually.

Developing Today for the Future of Tomorrow

Through the challenging times of COVID-19, Gibbs & Cox has been extremely fortunate to remain in a position of continued growth and development. As new awards come in, and new projects begin, we continue to invest in quality candidates and strive to expand our reach. One of our main focuses is pursuing driven candidates of both undergraduate and advanced degree levels and developing them into the leaders of tomorrow. COVID-19 has changed the way that we engage with our community, and though we must refrain from in-person events such as trade shows, conventions, and career fairs, Gibbs & Cox has become highly-active in the virtual community, regularly attending virtual college career fairs and trade shows.

In order to sustain our level of progress, investing in our employees is our top priority. Our employee development strategy begins with an individualized plan that leads to company growth, success, and a meaningful, fulfilling impact. As the largest independent naval architecture and marine engineering firm in the United States, we are proud to offer unique positions that give our employees the ability to work on a wide range of projects over several locations, nationally and internationally. From naval architecture and marine engineering to program management and software development, we encourage our team to explore their interests and pursue what drives them.

Our staff often participates in challenging and rewarding opportunities utilizing advanced tools and technologies, which provides an excellent chance for personal and professional development. At Gibbs & Cox, our priority is our people. From personalized one-on-one performance reviews to employee surveys, your voice matters. When our staff succeeds, we all succeed.

We are constantly seeking motivated and qualified individuals to join our highly talented team led by industry-recognized experts. We offer a wide variety of positions for interns, highly seasoned and experienced engineers, program managers, and designers. Many of our current leadership got their start as interns at G&C!

Four Decades Later, the Gibbs & Cox Frigate Legacy Continues

The G&C designed FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry, now part of allied fleets all over the globe
The G&C designed FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry, now part of allied fleets all over the globe

In 1974, when Gibbs & Cox was awarded the contract to design the FFG-7, it came as evidence of our dedication to providing innovative, quality solutions to our customers. More than 45 years later, as part of the winning Fincantieri Marinette Marine’s FREMM team for FFG(X), we continue to deliver those same results. Our team is excited to have this opportunity to bring the new FFG(X) design to the fleet. With 24 classes of US navy combatants in our design history, we have remained on the cutting edge of technology and maritime innovation. Though many technological changes have occurred since our initial work on the FFG-7, Gibbs & Cox’s dedication to providing innovative quality solutions has never wavered, and our employees and company culture remain the key to our success.

As we begin FFG(X) detail design, we can’t help but reflect on what made the FFG-7 class the backbone of the US Navy for 30+ years. We interviewed several members of our team who began their careers working on the FFG-7 and who are looking forward to supporting the continued legacy. Their experiences and lessons learned from the FFG-7 and dozens of other projects are what set us apart from competition, and the passing of these experiences onto the newest generation of naval architects, designers, and marine engineers is what continues our legacy.

Rendering of the FFG(X), which will deliver the US Navy increased lethality, survivability, and improved capability
Rendering of the FFG(X), which will deliver the US Navy increased lethality, survivability, and improved capability

The FFG-7 design team consisted of highly skilled naval architects and engineers devoted to providing their best work, and we’re excited to bring the same level of expertise and devotion to the new design. Senior Program Manager Ed Topitz, a 46 year Gibbs & Cox employee, attributes much of the success of the FFG-7 program to the willingness of experienced personnel to guide new employees in growing their skills, a culture that remains prevalent within G&C to this day. Senior Principal Marine Engineer Michael Hulser, a 40 year Gibbs & Cox employee was a young engineer when he started on the FFG-7 and fondly recalls the mentorship and experience he gained on the program. He looks forward to “pass[ing] these experiences and knowledge to the current staff in the Engineering and Design Groups to provide a great design for FFG(X).” Principal Marine Engineer Fabian Canaval, another 46 year employee, noted that G&C has had to change to remain competitive in this highly specialized market but attributes our continued success to the company culture of “be[ing] “the best” at what we do.”

G&C Drafting Room, 1942
G&C Drafting Room, 1942

One of the most significant changes from the FFG-7 to the FFG(X) is the evolution of technology, not only in the ships themselves, but also in the design process. When Gibbs & Cox began designing the FFG-7, the architecture and engineering was all done by hand, requiring more in person group collaboration and several iterations of drawings. Assistant Engineering Group Vice Present David Rosenthal, a 36 year employee, gave us a further glimpse into the design technology of the past, saying that “the FFG used a 2D layer design control system using pen/ink on clear drawing sheets that where laid over each other. One sheet had all the structure and foundations, one had the arrangements and the third had the systems. Each system had a different color. All calculations and interference checks where performed manually.” This varies drastically from how we design ships today, and Mr. Hulser commented that we will design and engineer the FFG(X) exclusively with computers, CAD programs, and analysis tools. He noted that “G&C has kept current with these advances to remain competitive and at the forefront of the engineering and design process for the US Navy.”

 Major combatant design contracts are few and far between, and with the support of Gibbs & Cox’s design team the FFG-7 became one of the most successful and survivable classes of ships in the history of the US Navy, a legacy that will continue with the FFG(X). As the nation’s largest independent marine engineering and design firm, we have the resources necessary to provide outstanding service. Our tailored processes allow us to meet the specific needs of shipyard and government clients, and to deliver the best value and solutions to our client. Our designers and engineers are production-focused, applying computer-aided design, engineering, and analysis methods across all technical disciplines, delivering the highest-quality designs while ensuring affordable construction. Our knowledge and processes, honed with decades of customer alignment, ensure that G&C designs meet customer requirements while being cost effective and producible. We will leverage our expertise, past experience from the FFG-7, and our talented team to execute another successful design for the future US Navy Frigate. We have the right team and the right tools to deliver a top-of-the line ship, and all of us at Gibbs & Cox are looking forward to delivering the FFG(X) to the Navy throughout the 21st century.