Gary high school grad invented offshore rigs, ship designs

2013-10-11T22:30:00Z 2013-10-12T20:36:06Z Gary high school grad invented offshore rigs, ship designsJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com
October 11, 2013 10:30 pm  • 

A pioneering naval architect and businessman who graduated from a Gary high school recently died, after having had an international impact on the design of cargo ships and offshore rigs.

Jerome Goldman changed how goods are shipped across the globe, and how oil is drilled for offshore. He invented the Lighter Aboard or LASH Ship, designed one of the first jack-up offshore drilling units, conceived of one of the first catamaran drilling ships and came up with an all-hatch design that is now universal among cargo and carrier ships.

Goldman died at age 89 last month in New Orleans, where he lived for most of his life and developed the first high-rise condo building on the Mississippi River. He still has family in Northwest Indiana.

The Kankakee, Ill.-native spent part of his youth in Gary and graduated from Emerson High School on Gary's east side at age 16. He went off to study at the University of Michigan's Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering program.

The university later named a wing of the building after him.

"He had a huge international reputation in marine engineering," said family friend Larry Weiss, a Schererville resident. "He's a Gary boy who made it big and gained worldwide renown in nautical engineering."

Goldman was preoccupied with the allure of ships and the sea when living in Gary as a child. He used to study cards that named different types of ships, their tonnage and what they carried, said sister Edythe Dreyfus, who now lives in Munster.

A precocious student, he decided to go off to the University of Michigan, which is one of the few colleges with a naval architecture program.

"It seems unusual that Michigan, of all places, would have a naval architecture school, but he said it was because of the freighters that bring the coal to the steel mills," Dreyfus said.

After graduating near the end of World War II, he landed a job in New Orleans at Higgins Industries, which made landing craft, PT boats and other vessels for the war effort. A few years later, he started his own naval architecture firm, Friede and Goldman Ltd.

Friede and Goldman, which has been heralded as an international leader in ship and offshore rig design, was bought recently for $125 million, said Geoff Murphy, marketing and sales manager.

The business Goldman founded with Vladimir Friede created the designs for more than 100 mobile offshore drilling and production units around the world. More than 40 units designed by the company are under construction in shipyards in Asia, the Middle East and beyond.

"We've been breaking records selling rigs," Murphy said. "The spill in the Macondo Prospect forced the industry to get rid of the older rigs, so now they're trying to phase them out. We've been selling them in Africa and all over. It's a bull rush."

Goldman contributed to several pioneering designs, including for submersible and semisubmersible rigs, catamaran drill ships, and the first jack-up rig in 1952.

He also invented the All-Hatch Ship, which maximized the amount of storage space on a ship, and the LASH carrier, which made it easier to transfer cargo from one ship to another. The LASH carriers could haul five times as much cargo, which could be loaded and unloaded much more quickly.

His innovations earned him a number of honors, including induction into the Offshore Pioneers Hall of Fame and an honorary doctorate from the University of Michigan.

"He had many patents," Dreyfus said. "He had more honorary degrees than Jacques Cousteau. He was quite an intellect."

Goldman also was a philanthropist who contributed to a number of causes, including the National World War II Museum, Tulane University and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

"He was very thoughtful," she said. "He was interested in a lot of areas and was well-rounded. But basically, he was an engineer. He would tell you, 'I'm an engineer.'"

en, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, J

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