Stephen Payne (naval architect)
Stephen Payne, OBE, is a British naval architect. He worked on the design of approximately 40 passenger ships for the Carnival Corporation including the Cunard ocean liner RMS Queen Mary 2. He is currently an independent maritime consultant and is an educational advocate for engineering careers.
Background and education
Stephen Michael Payne was born in London, UK  (circa 1960). Although Payne had had an interest in ship design since childhood, he entered Imperial College London as a student of chemistry. He was later advised to pursue his life interest and he transferred to the University of Southampton to study ship science. While there, he also enrolled in the University Royal Naval Unit to experience how ships responded at sea. Payne graduated in 1984 with a BSc.(Hons) in ship science. He was initially employed at Marconi Radar to advise the company on aspects of ship motions and ship design.
Payne began his work with Carnival Corporation in January 1985 as a member of the design team for the Carnival Fantasy class ships which entered service starting in 1990. The last two Fantasy ships were equipped with ABB Azipod thrusters rather than traditional shaft drives, a development which influenced his later work. His next major project was the design of Holland America Line’s new flagship MS Rotterdam VI where he was project manager. Payne designed the new ship with twin funnels, a tribute to the 1959 SS Rotterdam V.
Following completion of the Rotterdam, Payne was given charge of designing the new ocean liner Queen Mary 2 (QM2) to replace the aging Queen Elizabeth 2 as Cunard's transatlantic liner. Payne's design was heavily influenced by past Atlantic liners. "I have this philosophy that to get things right the first-time, you need to have an appreciation for history - of what has been done before." QM2 has a breakwater adopted from the Normandie and split engine rooms to avoid having a single point of failure. Payne also instituted several design innovations to justify the new liner's construction cost. He placed the new ship's public spaces near the water line. This allowed for a premium fare balcony, rather than porthole, cabins to be placed in the hull yet high enough to have a margin of protection from the sea conditions of the north Atlantic. Payne also created more revenue-producing interior space by removing one engine room from the initial design and instead using gas turbines at the base of the funnel. Podded propulsion, rather than shaft drives, was used to free up even more interior space and offered greater fuel efficiency and maneuverability. Spectacular public rooms, restricted to only first class passengers on the great twentieth century liners, were open to all passengers. QM2 was delivered to Cunard in December 2003, on time and under budget.
Payne next lead the design team for the Seabourn Cruise Line Odyssey class ships which entered service starting in 2009. In 2011, Payne left Carnival to form his own consultancy, PFJ-Maritime Consulting Ltd. As a maritime consultant Payne has been involved in the proposed Project Orient Limited, shipping law, and future developments for shipping propulsion.
Awards and honors
In 2004, Payne was awarded the Civil Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for his service to the shipping industry. In 2007, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Southampton. In 2007-2010, he served as President of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA). In 2010, he was named a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and received the Academy's Special Achievement Award. In 2011, the The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers awarded him the VADM Land Medal for Outstanding Accomplishment in the Marine Field.
Payne is a governor of Quilley School of Engineering, a secondary school in Eastleigh, UK. He was a founder of Future Engineers, an educational outreach program which promotes awareness of engineering careers for youth. In 2011, Payne became a member of the Board of Trustees of the Webb Institute (Glen Cove, New York).