Lester Rosenblatt, naval architecht and marine engineer, dead at 83

Lester Rosenblatt, naval architecht and marine engineer, dead at 83

Lester Rosenblatt, the founder of one of the largest naval architecture and marine engineering firms in the U.S., died on Sunday. He was 83. He passed away in his sleep, said his son, Bruce.

Rosenblatt and his father, Mandell, together founded M. Rosenblatt and Son in 1947 as equal partners, building the firm into a major force in U.S. naval architecture and marine engineering. At its peak it was the largest such firm in the U.S., employing over 1,000 people in 12 offices. The firm has been known for its government work as a contractor to the Naval Sea Systems Command -- it was the principal naval architect for the Navy's Spruance-class destroyers -- the design of oceanographic and other research vessels, as well as large and elegant private yachts.

The firm has a colorful history, working on notorious projects such as the CIA spy ship Glomar Explorer. According to the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, "it is probable that no other private design firm has the volume of experience in modernization, conversion and overall design of aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers as M. Rosenblatt & Son. One of Rosenblatt's proudest projects was the New York/New Jersey Sandy Hook Pilots offshore pilot boat New York, completed in 1972, in which three generations of Rosenblatt -- Lester, his father and his son, Bruce, each played a role designing.

An experienced and passionate yachtsman, Rosenblatt's personal yacht, the 41-foot wooden ketch Rosa II, was jointly designed by himself and his father. The firm was sold in 2000 to the shipboard maintenance and engineering firm AMSEC LLC of Virginia Beach, Va., but retains its identity within the larger firm. Following the sale, Rosenblatt opened his own consulting firm, Lester Rosenblatt LLC, retaining the title he held at M. Rosenblatt, chairman, chief executive and naval architect.

Rosenblatt graduated in 1942 from the University of Michigan with a degree in naval architecture and marine engineering. He subsequently received a bachelor of science degree from the City College of New York and became a licensed professional engineer in New York and Massachusetts. During World War II, while in the Navy, he served in the Design Division of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard from 1944-46. Rosenblatt is a life member of the SNAME and served as president of the organization from 1979-80.

His son Bruce serves as president of SNAME today. Rosenblatt was also a fellow of SNAME and a member of the American Bureau of Shipping and Bureau Veritas. He also received an honorary doctorate degree from the Webb Institute.