Mariners Under the Radar

This month’s featured mariner is hydrodymamicist, Sean Kery. What is a hydrod—Can’t pronounce it either? Read his interview to discover what he does. You’ll love his humor, even though, at first, his work may seem cut and dry to most. His enthusiasm will bring you aboard marine forensics.

Sean Kery
Job Title: Senior Hydrodynamicist / Scientist / Jack of all trades
Job Description: I do wide range of Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture related tasks
Education/Training: BS in Mechanical and Ocean Engineering, URI 1985, MS in Systems Engineering 2002 Johns Hopkins University, Maryland; Professional Education in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering 2002; 26 years in a wide range of ocean engineering and naval architecture tasking.

Currently, Mr. Kery is serving on the steering committee planning the First International Marine Forensics Symposium to be held in Washington DC, 2012.

What influenced you to choose this career path?
As a child I knew I wanted to play with boats and invent things.   A family friend took me to his work place and showed me what engineers do.   I watched every Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau special as a kid.  I took Ocean Engineering in college and loved it.   As an avid reader I read the diary of Frederick McKenzie senior year in college.  F. McKenzie was a Major in the British Army in the American Revolution stationed in Newport, Rhode Island.   He wrote about privateers being chased down by the 5 British Frigates that were patrolling Narragansett Bay at that time and sinking them on the Narragansett Coast.   Later that spring, my scuba diving class took us to the same spot and we found cannon balls and a grindstone on the bottom 40 feet down.  I was hooked on shipwrecks from then on.

How long have you been involved?
My fascination with shipwrecks started at an age of 6 or 7 when I saw Jacques Cousteau specials related to shipwrecks.  I’ve read everything I could find on it for many years.

What do you like most and least about it?
I like to think I am making a meaningful contribution to preventing future shipwrecks by helping analyze famous wrecks of the past, like the USS Monitor and the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, using modern tools.  I regret that I don’t have more time to spend on this than I do.

What are you currently working on that relates to marine forensics?
I am currently working on analyzing the sinking of the USS Monitor and the SS Edmund Fitzgerald which both foundered in heavy seas.   I am also the editor and principle author of Guidelines for Marine Forensic Investigations, a textbook that will be published in 2012.

Are you an authority in any particular shipwreck or an area within MFS?
My areas of expertise include the failures of ropes and cables of all sorts in the marine environment, and the motions of vessels in ocean waves.

What has been your most significant contribution and or experience?
Growing the Guidelines book from 50 pages and 1 chapter to 650 pages in 44 chapters was a lot of work.  It remains to be seen if that work has any significance other than keeping me off the streets at night.

How has your work improved safety on our seas?
My work has not had much of any impact yet but I hope the publication of these two papers and the Guidelines book in early 2012 will change that for the better.

What are some of the greatest innovations in MFS?
Most of what we know about the underwater world has been discovered since World War II.  The oldest and most famous center for Oceanographic research on the planet, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, was only founded in 1930.   The invention of the side scan sonar, and the aqualung (aka Scuba) and more recently ROVs have begun to make the underwater world accessible in ways that it has never been for all of human history up to this point.   More has been added to the total of human knowledge in the last 100 years than in all the knowledge of all of history before that put together.

For the work I do, the advent of the PC, which puts extremely powerful computers on every desk, has changed the world.   In 1950, it was imagined that with a lot of repetitive calculations, it might someday be possible to predict how ships move in waves.   Today I do that routinely.

What still needs to be accomplished in this field?
Lots and lots.   The Edmund Fitzgerald broke in three pieces and sank November 10th 1975 on Lake Superior.   The Arthur B. Anderson, a similar ship following a few miles behind her in similar conditions, did not break up or sink.   I have made fifty 40-minute simulations of the Fitz in these mountainous waves but only a handful produce loads sufficient to cause a critical failure that could break the ship.   The majority of the 50 runs do not contain any critical events, which explains why the Anderson made it OK.   This is the brand new science of “seldom occurring events”.   The ordinary laws of statistics that are the cornerstone of the early ship motions models no longer work at all with these funky once-in-a-long time events.   It was not the largest wave that caused the hull to break, but rather the way the ship was already moving when it met that critical combination of wave component phases.   We are only just beginning to understand these kinds of analyses.

Nature is full of these episodes where what we think we know no longer applies and we have to re-think what we actually do know versus not.   In a winter in the 1980’s or 1990’s I forget which year, the north shore of Cape Cod where I was living was hit by 3 once-in 50-year storms and the once-in-100-year storm all in a one-month span of time.     Part of the problem here was that the once-in-50 year storm was estimated from only about 50 years of reliable data.   A lot of what we know or think we know about how the ocean behaves is built on short data sets because there are no reliable records that go back more than 100 or so years.

For ship structural designs, the technology to analyze the wave induced stresses on the very complicated structure that is the ships hull girder did not exist prior to about 2000. We are only just beginning to know how to apply this to a wide range of hull types.   Slow Steel mono-hulls account for the majority of ships built, and that is where the technology has the longest track record and is the most mature.    For ships like the high speed catamarans and trimarans that I work on in my day job, there is very little prior experience to work from so we are to some extent inventing from best practices as we go along.

What would you say to a young person considering MFS?
“Get thee to a Library”.   There is nothing stopping young people from reading up on any subject that interests them.   Read the articles and books on the subject.   Do not be afraid to read books and articles that are “Above your Grade Level”.   The result will likely be that you become a better reader with a better vocabulary.    Reading at grade level is for normal people, “Dare to be exceptional”.

Contact an expert who is willing to work with or mentor students.   In any course in life, you will succeed in proportion to what you try.   The more things you learn how to do, the easier it will be to learn other things.

Be prepared to learn that History and especially Historical Marine Forensics can be a strange and alarming place.   Many marine casualties have resulted in the deaths of a large number of people under horrible circumstances.   It is not a subject for those easily upset.   “Why did this happen”, can seldom be answered in a satisfactory way.   Where there are physical parameters that can be changed or human procedures changed to avoid the problem happening again, generally every effort will be made to do so.   There will always be a certain number where “presumed to have foundered with all hands”, is the only answer that will ever be known.

If you want to understand Naval Architecture, the place to start is Harry Benford’s book,  “Naval Architecture for Non-Naval Architects.”  If you go beyond that you will need to learn some pretty heavy math such as calculus and analytical geometry and if you don’t look out, you may find yourself enrolled in an engineering college like I did.   It only pays about 2 to 4 times what many other careers do, and I’ve had fun at work for the last 26 years, but it’s not for “normal” people.   Most of the really successful engineers and scientists have a host of other interests and hobbies including every kind of music and art.   Exceptional people can thrive in these fields but people who wish to be normal should probably not bother.

I also highly recommend you get involved in boating of some kind.   Again, be advised that the feel of a deck moving under your feet makes some people seasick.   I get seasick some times but I also can’t wait until the next time I can break the bonds of land and cast off for a trip to sea.   It can almost be an addiction, but a generally happy one.   I bought my first leaky row boat at 15 and have almost a year of sea time including 16 oceanographic cruises and 5 days on an LMSR.   The LMSR is a dainty little teacup that is 950 feet long and 106 feet wide and weights a mere 65,000 long tons.   In 8-foot waves it moved like an apartment building in a strong breeze, as in you could sort of maybe tell that it had left the dock.    The 300 foot research vessel in 50-foot hurricane seas moved quite a bit more lively, and instilled in me an enduring respect for the power of sea.

Where should they start?
I strongly suggest you go to your public library and ask the librarians for help in finding material on the subject.   My wife is a librarian.  Librarians are usually very kind people who are in the business of helping people find stuff out.     If your local library does not have what you want / need, they have amazing ability to order it in from other libraries around the state and around the country.

Major Publications:
Guidelines for Marine Forensics Investigations; (Book in preparation, 44 chapters approx. 650 pages), Kery S. (Chairmen MF-8 Panel / Editor) Garzke, W., Abbott, B., Chapters in final peer review, expected publication early 2012 as a SNAME T&R Bulletin

Presented Book contents to SNAME T&R Panel at SNAME annual meeting in Providence RI, October 2009, updated SNAME annual Meeting 2010,Belleview, Washington.

Kery S., Broadwater, J., Vada, T. , (2011 in Preparation) “Forensic Seakeeping, Stability and Strength Contributing to the sinking of the Civil War USS Monitor”, in preparation for submission to the International Marine Forensics Symposium to be held 4/3/2012.
Kery S. Edwards G. Fisher, B.,  (2011 in Preparation) “Forensic Seakeeping, Stability and Strength Contributing to the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald November 10, 1975”; in preparation for submission to the SNAME International Marine Forensics Symposium to be held 4/3/2012.

Successful Numerical Modeling of Dynamic Instability Events on a High Speed Catamaran”;
Sean Kery, CSC Advanced Marine Center,  Michael Webster, Austal Ships,  Janelle Prange, University of Virginia & CSC Advanced  Marine  Center, SNAME 2010 Annual Meeting Proceedings

3-D Potential Flow Simulation of Multiple Ships in Waves for Ship to Ship Transfer-at-Sea”; Weems, K.M., Zhang, S., Lin, W.M., Kery, S.M.,  Submitted to the 10th International Symposium on Practical Design of Ships and Other Floating Structures, Houston Tx, Oct. 2007.

Deposition Mechanics and Sediment Transport“; Kery, S.M. Poster/paper presented at Calvert Marine Museum Symposium on the Paleontology of Chesapeake Bay, November 2006.

US GLOBEC Georges Bank Long-Term Moored Program:  Part 1- Mooring Configuration“;  Irish, J.D., Kery, S., Fucile, P., Beardsley, R.C., Lord, J., Brink, K.H., Published as Technical Report WHOI-2005-11, December 2005

Analysis and Prediction of Ocean and Platform Motions in Support of Vehicle Launch and Recovery” Sean Kery, ASNE Conference on Launch and Recovery Systems, November 2005, Annapolis, MD

Systems Engineering of Ocean Wave, Wind and Currents Data“;  Sean M. Kery, Tutorial presented at Oceans 2005, Washington, DC

Operational Availability Based On Wave Climatology, Concept Of Operations, And Hull Form“,  Sean Kery, Oceaneering International, Upper Marlboro,  Maryland, Larry Traweek, Dr. Jacqueline Roberts, Oceaneering International, Huntsville, Alabama, Phil Swanson,  Oceaneering International, Houston, Texas.,  Joe Moody, IFICS Product Office, Engineering Directorate, Huntsville, Alabama,. Proceedings of Oceans 2005, Washington, DC

Fatigue Life Prediction For The Development Of Ship Board Exposed Equipment“; Sean Kery, Oceaneering International, Proceedings of Oceans 2005, Washington, DC

The Development Of Ocean Surface Wave Climatology In Support Of Ship To Ship Connected Transfer Of Cargo And Personnel“; Sean Kery, Oceaneering International, Proceedings of Oceans 2005, Washington, DC

Achieving High Container Through-Put Rates, Between Vessels in High Seas (A Vision of HiCASS)“; Sean Kery, Dr. Gregory Hughes, Edward May, Paul Kjolseth, Michael Pang, William Thomas, Oceaneering International, 301 Prince Georges Blvd, Upper Marlboro, MD, 20774 USA   Thomas Treakle, Dr. Daniel Liut, SAIC Ship Technology Division, Holiday Court, Annapolis MD,, Proceedings of Oceans 2005, Washington, DC

Development Of An Ocean Surface Wave Climatology In Support Of Continental Shelf Projects“; Sean Kery, Oceaneering International, Proceedings of Oceans 2005, Washington, DC

From Alaska to the South Pacific In One-Hop“; Rick Cole RDSea and Associates, Inc., St. Pete Beach, FL, Noah Reddell LTJG, United States Navy, Umran Inan, Stanford University, VLF Research Group, Stanford, CA, Sean Kery, Oceaneering International, Inc., Upper Marlboro, MD, James Cappellini, Mooring Systems, Inc., Cataumet, MAm Pierre Smit, Air Force Research Laboratory, George Greider, Gilman Corp., Gilman, CT, Proceedings of Oceans 2005, Washington, DC

Handling Systems and Sea Test Planning”  Kery S.M. Principal author and editor,  published on the Northrop Grumman Oceanic Division Mechanical Engineering Website, June 2002

Wave Mechanics“, Design Guide and presentation, Kery, S.M., Principal author and editor, Gordon W.H., published on the Northrop Grumman Oceanic Division Mechanical Engineering Website, November 2001

Underwater Cables and Connectors”, Design Guide and presentation, Kery, S.M., Principal author and editor, Hikes, C., Leitholf, R.  12 chapters published on the Northrop Grumman Oceanic Division Mechanical Engineering Website, November 2001

Masters Thesis on “Fatigue Prediction on Shipboard Structures subjected to wind loading“, May 2002

Analysis, mitigation and testing of bending fatigue failures in an RF frequency co-axial cable“,Kery.S.M.,  Published in proceedings of “International wire and cable symposium“, Nov. 99

R/V Oceanus Cruise to Georges Bank”, Cruise Report, March 29-April 13, 1996, Irish, J.D., Wiebe, P., Kery, S.M., Fucile, P. p49 Published and distributed to all US Globec PI’s

Experiences with Trawl Resistant Bottom Mounted Instrumentation:  Developments and Results to Date”, Kery, S.M.,  Irish, J. D., Proceedings, Oceans 96

Elastic Tether Technology for Shallow Water Moorings in Harsh Environments:  Results in GLOBEC on Georges Bank”.  Irish, J.D. Kery S.M. Proceedings OCEANS 96

Mooring Issues Common in Most Types of Open Ocean Aquaculture”, Kery, S., Proceedings of the First “Open Ocean Aquaculture Conference”, May 8-11, 1996

Recent Developments in Instrument Bottom Mountings”, Kery. S.M., Sea Technology Magazine, June 1996

R/V Seward Johnson Cruise SJ95-04 to Georges Bank” Cruise Report, March 27-April 4, 195, Irish, J., Wiebe, P., Kery, S., Fucile, P., P49, Published and distributed to all US Globec PI’s

Construction and testing of Deep Water Trawl Resistant Bottom Mounted 75Khz ADCP”; Kery. S., (WHOI), Robinson, C. (NAVOCEANO), IEEE Fifth Working Conference on Current Measurement”  St Petersburg Fl, Feb. 1995

Low Drag Buoy with Integral ADCP for Moored Current Measurements in Strong Flows”, Kery, S. IEEE Fifth Working Conference on Current Measurement”  St Petersburg Fl, Feb. 1995

In Situ Measurements of the Dynamics of a  Full Scale CAPTOR Model”, Berteaux, H.O., Bocconcelli, A., Eck, C., Kery, S., WHOI technical report, June 1993

Integrated Seawater Sampler and Data Acquisition System for the Ocean Sciences, Final Report.”, Berteaux, H.O., Eck, C., Irish, J., Jenkins, W., Kery, S.,: WHOI technical report 93-20

The Seafloor Borehole Array Seismic System, (SEABASS)”, Stephen, R., Koelsch, D, Berteaux, H.O., Bolmer, S., Cretin, J., Etourmy, N., Fabre, A., Goldsborough, R., Gould, M., Kery, S., Laurent, J., Omnes,G., Peal, K., Smith, S., Turpening, R., Zani, C., Published as WHOI Technical Report, Also in “Marine Geophysical Researches”; 16:243-286, 1994

Dynamic Mooring Experiment”, Berteaux, H.O., Bocconcelli, A., Kery, S., Eck, C., Sea Technology Magazine, February 1993

The Dynamoor Project”;  Berteaux, H. O., Eck, C., Bocconcelli, A., Kery, S., Wansack, P. Proceedings MTS 92, Washington DC

Real- Time Tomography Mooring”, Lynch, J. Frye, D., Peal, K., Liberatore, S., Kery, S., Hobart, E., Newhall, A., Smith, S.,  WHOI technical report 92-29

Development and Evaluation of Electromechanical Terminations for Deep Sea Buoy Applications”, Bocconcelli, A., Kery, S.M.; Proceedings MTS 92, Washington DC

Prototype Expendable Surface Mooring with Inductive Telemetry”, Frye, D., Fougere, A., Kery, S.M., Presented as a poster session at AGU 1992

Self Deployed Oceanographic Moorings”, Berteaux, H.O., Kery, S.M., Walden, R.G., WHOI technical report, 92-08

Trawl Resistant, Bottom Mounted 75Khz Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler with Gimbaled Heads”, Kery, S.M., Clay, P.R. (Mooring Systems Inc.), Robinson, C, (NAVOCEANO), Romeo, J.D. (RD Instruments) MTS 90 Proceedings

CTD Electromechanical Termination Users Manual”, Berteaux, H.O., Kery, S.M., O’Malley, P.J.; WHOI technical report 90-04

Diving in Support of Buoy Engineering”, Kery.S.M., AAUS, ”Diving for Science 89 Proceedings

Severe Environment Surface Mooring, (SESMOOR)”, Kery, S.M.,  IEEE, Oceans 89 Proceedings, also SEG/USN Deep Ocean Technology Symposium, February, 1990

Testing and Evaluation of SURLYN foam and SPECTRA fiber ropes for Buoy System Applications”, Berteaux, H.G., Bocconcelli, A., Gould, M., Kery, S.M.  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) technical report 88-32

Contact Mr. Kery

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