Stephen Payne (naval architect)

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Stephen M. Payne
Payne SM 21Dec2018.jpg
Stephen Payne during a speaker's discussion session on board RMS Queen Mary 2 in December 2017.
Bornc. 1960
Greater London
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Engineering career
DisciplineShip Science
Practice namePFJ Maritime Consulting Ltd (2011-2016)[1]
Employer(s)Carnival Corporate Shipbuilding (1985-2010)
ProjectsMS Rotterdam (VI), passenger ship design
Significant designRMS Queen Mary 2
Significant advancepodded propulsion
AwardsMost Excellent Order of the British Empire, Royal Designer for Industry, VADM Land Medal

Stephen Payne, OBE, MNM, RDI, FREng, FRINA, HonFIED is a British naval architect. He has worked on the designs of approximately 40 passenger ships for the Carnival Corporation, including the Cunard ocean liner RMS Queen Mary 2.[2] He is currently an independent maritime consultant and is an educational advocate for engineering careers.

Background and education[edit]

Stephen Michael Payne was born in London, England circa 1960.[3]:12 He was educated in the local council schools including the Catford Boys School, where two of its teachers would have a key role in shaping his career. His interest in ocean liners began at age 5 when the BBC children’s television program Blue Peter featured a tour of the RMS Queen Elizabeth. He would later state that he was immediately captivated by the ship.[4] His interest in ships intensified during a 1969 family visit to the then new Queen Elizabeth 2 in Southampton where he also observed the SS United States, on one of her last transatlantic crossings, arriving in port.[5] In 1972 the program’s magazine described the destruction by fire of the ex-Queen Elizabeth in Hong Kong harbor and ended with the statement “…nothing like her will ever be built again.” With encouragement from a Catford English teacher Payne wrote a letter of complaint to the program arguing that they were wrong, another ship to rival her would indeed be built and he would design it. The program applauded his ambition but cautioned him not to be discouraged if it never happened.[6]

When the time came for him to consider university studies however his career counselors discouraged Payne from any engineering career as it was then seen as having limited job prospects. They advised him to instead study chemistry and he enrolled at Imperial College London. After one year of study he met with his former physics teacher from Catford who agreed that Payne had been badly advised, and helped him obtain funding to transfer to the University of Southampton’s Ship Science program.[7] While there, he also enrolled in the University Royal Naval Unit (URNU) to experience how ships responded at sea.[8] After graduating in 1984 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in ship science, he accepted a position at Marconi Radar. His role was to advise the company on aspects of ship motion and ship design.[8]

Professional career[edit]

Payne began his work with Carnival Corporation in January 1985 when employed by Technical Marine Planning, Ltd, then a London-based consultancy firm under contract with Carnival for the design and construction supervision of its new ships. (By 1995 the firm was absorbed into Carnival and became its newbuild department.)[9]

His first assignment was to assess stability of the MS Holiday.[3]:14 He next became a member of the design team for the Carnival Fantasy class ships which entered service starting in 1990. The last two Fantasy ships, Elation and Paradise, were equipped with ABB Azipod thrusters rather than traditional shaft drives, a development which influenced his later work. By 1995 he was a Senior Naval Architect and oversaw the construction of the first Destiny class ship.[10] 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.[11] Following completion of the Rotterdam, Payne was project manager for the Costa Atlantica and the Spirit class ships.[3]:14

In May 1998 Carnival acquired the Cunard Line, and 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.[3]:15 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." [12] QM2 has a breakwater adopted from the Normandie and split engine rooms to avoid having a single point of failure. "The bridge, the mast, and the funnel are all loosely based on the Queen Elizabeth 2 and I felt it particularly important to echo some of the similarities between that ship and this one to create the lineage progression." [13] On three occasions Carnival's board halted the project as they did not consider it commercially viable.[14] Payne refined the design and instituted several 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.[2] QM2 was delivered to Cunard in December 2003, on time and under budget.[15]

During the design phase of Queen Mary 2 Payne was appointed a member of a safety Innovation Group for the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency.[16] His next major project was to lead the design team for the Seabourn Cruise Line Odyssey class ships which entered service starting in 2009. Carnival's later newbuild contracts would stipulate podded propulsion as they offered fuel savings and superior maneuverability compared to traditional shaft drives. Payne would later state, "I have yet to meet a ship's master who is familiar with pods that doesn't prefer them to shafts, rudders and stern thrusters."[17]

In 2010, Payne left Carnival and became a founding member of the consultancy PFJ-Maritime Consulting Ltd.[8] As a maritime consultant Payne has been involved in the proposed Project Orient Limited,[18] shipping law,[19] passenger vessel safety,[20] and future developments for shipping propulsion.[21] He is also an industry consultant for the emergence of Asian shipyards for ship building and refurbishment.[22]

Panorama of RMS Queen Mary 2 and MS Rotterdam
Payne-designed ships RMS Queen Mary 2 and MS Rotterdam berthed in Quebec City on September 29, 2017.

Engineering Advocacy[edit]

As a result of the media attention given to Queen Mary 2 and his role as lead designer, Payne received correspondence from students who asked about engineering careers. They were encountering many of the same biases as he himself had received thirty years earlier: that it was a profession in decline and without a promising future.[23] To help address this persistent attitude, Payne and some colleagues founded the Future Engineers initiative.[1] The program featured a specific engineering project and allowed students and their teachers visit the site and interact with the designers and engineers.

Payne also served as a governor of the Quilley School[24] of prior to its merger with Crestwood College. In 2003 he was invited to deliver the MacMillan Memorial Lecture to the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland. He chose the subject "Genesis of a Queen".[25] In 2011, he became a member of the Board of Trustees of the Webb Institute (Glen Cove, New York).[26] Between 2012 and 2016 Payne was President of The National STEM Skills Passport.[27]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2004, Payne was awarded the Civil Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for his service to the shipping industry.[28] He also received professional and academic awards:

Payne is a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and a Freeman of the City of London.[40]


  • Grande Dame: Holland America Line and the S.S. Rotterdam ISBN 978-0903055123 (1990)
  • MS Statendam: Continuing "A Tradition of Excellence" ASIN B000OLKCLC (1992)
  • RMS Queen Mary 2 Manual: An insight into the design, construction and operation of the world's largest ocean liner ISBN 978-0857332448 (2014)
  • RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (1967-2008): Owners' workshop manual ISBN 978-0857332165 (2017)

Forewords to:


  1. ^ a b "PFJ Maritime - The Team - Stephen Payne". Archived from the original on 26 October 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b Payne, Stephen M. (March 2006). "True Liner: The Creation of the Queen Mary 2" (PDF). INGENIA, The Royal Academy of Engineering (26): 38–42. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Payne, Stephen (2014). RMS Queen Mary 2 Manual: An insight into the design, construction and operation of the world's largest ocean liner. Somerset, UK: Haynes Publishing. ISBN 978-0857332448.
  4. ^ Tweedie, Neil (May 10, 2014). "Cunard's Queen Mary 2: royalty on the high seas". Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  5. ^ Richardson, Pat (January 9, 2015). "How Blue Peter inspired the man who built the QM2". Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  6. ^ Higginson, John (January 2, 2004). "Determined boys ship comes in". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  7. ^ Wagner, Richard H. "Following a Dream - A conversation with Stephen Payne, designer of Queen Mary 2". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  8. ^ a b c "Alumni Profile - Stephen Payne". University of Southampton. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Stephen Payne -Titanic Revisited: 1912-2014". Michigan Engineering (Peachman Lecture). Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Carnival to Launch 100,000-ton Destiny in 1996". Cruise Industry News. March 16, 1995. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  11. ^ Payne, Stephen M. (1990). Grande Dame : Holland America Line and the S.S. Rottendam. Rina Ltd. p. 132. ISBN 978-0903055123.
  12. ^ Mathisen, Oivind. "A Ship For The Sea". Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Winter 2003-2004. Cruise Industry News. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  13. ^ Payne, Stephen (10 July 2015). Britannia Revisited - A Designer's Perspective (video). Cunard Line. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  14. ^ Payne, Stephen (June 16, 2012). Webb Institute Commencement 2012 (43:38) (Speech). Webb Institute - One hundred and Sixteenth Annual Commencement. Glen Cove, NY. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  15. ^ "How the QM2 team built a floating revolution". Horizons. Lloyd's Register. May 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  16. ^ Ernest, Blum (March 16, 2001). "British safety panel offers lifeboat alternative". Northstar Travel Media, LLC. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Opinion - Current State of Podded Propulsion". 25 September 2013. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Southampton to Sydney by ship: Plans to launch new service gather momentum". Daily Mail Online. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  19. ^ "LSLC Cadwallader Symposium (November 26, 2012). From Titanic to Concordia: the Achilles Heel of Passenger Ships". London Shipping Law Center. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  20. ^ "BC Shipping News, May 2013". Nautical Institute Conference, Victoria, BC, Canada. McIvor Communications Inc. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Future Ship Powering Options: Exploring Alternative Methods of Ship Propulsion" (PDF). Royal Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  22. ^ "Asian Yards Need to Step Up for 2020 Projections to Come to Fruition". Seatrade Communications Limited. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  23. ^ Payne, Stephen (May 1, 2009). "Changing the world: Stephen Payne OBE HonFIED describes how his experiences at school inspired him to help set up Future Engineers, an initiative to encourage students into engineering careers". Engineering Designer. London, UK: Insitiution of Engineering Designers. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  24. ^ "Titanic challenge for students". Hampshire Chronicle. High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK. February 10, 2011. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  25. ^ "Hugh Miller Macmillan". Macmillan Memorial Lectures. Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland. Archived from the original on 4 October 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  26. ^ "WebbNews Winter 2011-2012". Magazine of the Webb Institute. Webb Institute. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  27. ^ "STEM Skills Passport". Archived from the original on 5 October 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  28. ^ "Queen's Birthday Honours". The Telegraph (UK). 12 June 2004. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  29. ^ "Special Achievement Award - 2006 - Stephen Payne OBE RDI FREng". Archived from the original on 31 January 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  30. ^ "Current Royal Designers". The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce). Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  31. ^ "The Merchant Navy Medal Recipients 2006". Merchant Navy Welfare Board. Archived from the original on 8 August 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  32. ^ Kennedy, Clare (16 July 2007). "Honorary degrees to recognise outstanding achievements". Daily Echo. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  33. ^ "Council of the Institution - Past Presidents". Royal Institution of Naval Architects. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  34. ^ "Membership - Fellow (FRINA)". Membership Requirements - Royal Institution of Naval Architects. RINA. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  35. ^ Sutton, Jane (July 9, 2008). "Academy announces new Fellows for 2008" (Press release). London SW1Y 5DG: The Royal Academy of Engineering. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  36. ^ "Institution of Engineering Designers Annual Report for 2009". Institution of Engineering Designers. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  37. ^ "CultureSouthampton - The Trustees". Archived from the original on 13 October 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  38. ^ "VADM Land Medal - Recipients". The Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  39. ^ "Inspirational figures celebrated at University of Winchester Graduation ceremonies" (Press release). Winchester SO22 4NR, UK: Press Office, University of Winchester. October 17, 2015. Archived from the original on 28 December 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  40. ^ "Egg Project Team". Stephen Turner's Exbury Egg. SPUD Group. Retrieved 24 April 2019.

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