ABS Center for Engineering wing named for MMA alum
IN APRIL, Maine Maritime Academy named a part of the ABS Center for Engineering, Science, and Research the Robert D. Somerville ’65 Wing in honor of Somerville’s tremendous contributions to the world of shipping.
Bob Somerville arrived at the Maine Maritime Academy campus in 1961 from the County. He was raised on maritime tales of his great-grandfather, a ship captain lost at sea, and those tales gave Somerville his own love for the sea. He graduated with a degree in Marine Engineering in 1965 and began his career at Texaco, eventually rising to 1st Engineer. Three years later, he took a position with Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock in the Atomic Power Division, working on the construction of nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers. He joined American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) in 1970 as a field surveyor, and after a 43-year career, retired from ABS and the ABS Group of Companies in 2013.
Somerville’s great contributions to maritime industries and their workers have won him numerous awards. He was inducted into the prestigious International Maritime Hall of Fame at the United Nations in 2006. In 2007, the U.S. Chamber of Shipping of America awarded him the Admiral Halert C. Shepheard Award for his outstanding contributions to merchant marine safety. In 2009, he received the Vice Admiral Land Medal for outstanding accomplishments in the marine field from the Society of Naval Architect and Marine Engineers (SNAME). He also received the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Foundation’s Captain Emery Rice Medal in recognition of his support of maritime education. In 2011, he received the United Seamen’s Service Admiral of the Ocean Seas Award, and in 2012, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from Seatrade.
Somerville is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program and a Fellow of SNAME. He holds an honorary Doctor of Science from Maine Maritime Academy and an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science from the Webb Institute. Somerville has served on MMA’s Board of Trustees since 2008 and was board chair in 2016.
At the unveiling of Somerville wing, President Brennan described him as “a leader, visionary, and mentor.”
“Bob,” concluded Brennan, “I cannot think of a more deserving recognition for all you have done.”