Ernst Enkvisti in Memoriam (1931–2023)

Naval Architect developed Finnish know-how in shipbuilding.
Ernst Enkvist
Professor, Doctor of Science (Technology) Ernst Enkvist

Professor, Doctor of Science (Technology) Ernst Enkvist has passed away at the age of 92. He was born on the 8th March 1931 in Helsinki and died on the 9th November 2023 in Inkoo.

Ernst Enkvist graduated from the Helsinki University of Technology in 1958. From 1958 to 1971 he was head of design and project deparment at Wärtsilä Helsinki Shipyard. From 1972 to 1977 the manager of  drawing office. From 1978 to 1982 professor of Naval Architecture at the Helsinki Univesity of Technology. From1983 to 1987 director of Wärtsilä Arctic Research Centre. 

During his almost twenty years shipyard period 1958 to 1977 there was several famous ships designed and built in Wärtsilä Helsinki Shipyard: artic and an-artic icebreakers, car -passenger ferries, cruise ships and naval vessels. All these special ships required skill full designers and workers. Many of prototype ships had new technical innovations, which improved the competitiveness of the shipyard in the eyes of the customers. Enkvist underlined always that engineer science is not the whole but utmost important are those measures to reduce the work hours of a new building. The aim is to take work out from hull by making outfitting as much as possible in open steel sections with pre-fabricated machinery and interior modules. The new buildings were delivered both to east and west without forgetting domestic customers. It is difficult to name one of the new buildings but the cruise ship MS Song of Norway delivered in 1970 was one of the first ships purpose built for international cruise business. The ship started a long customer relation with us, which has lasted over 50 years.

Ernst Enkvist knewhow to combine the research to product development of a ship. An excellent example was the hull form development of the ice breaking tanker SS Manhattan with ice model testing.  A new test basin was built in Helsinki in 1969 as a result of co-operation between Wärtsilä and oil company Esso aiming to transport raw oil through the North – West passage. Enkvist’s dissertation “On the Ice Resistance Encountered by Ships Operating in the Continuous Mode of Icebreaking” focused on the scaling of model ice results to full-scale and was approved in 1972 by the Helsinki University of Technology. I was also at present in the lecture hall as a just graduated but the content of the thesis didn’t opened then. My focus was more on the outmost fine figures. Later I understood the importance of his research, which gave a big step forwards in ice model testing but also started a new research field where our country is in the front line today.

In 1978 Ernst Enkvist was appointed to professor in Naval Architecture in the Helsinki University of Technology. In spite of he stayed only a short period up to the end of 1982 Enkvist had a strong influence on the ship design skills of his students. He transferred his 20 years experience and he was a good teacher. The key teaching course was the ‘long’ ship design project lasting almost one term efficient time by two students and included both transport and ship design tasks. As a whole project volume equalled almost to one master thesis. In the project students utilized investment criterion to make comparison between different solutions. The main dimensions of the ship had to be based on rational arguments not only on statistics. Enkvist was very eager to develop the group work of students on this project work. When I was appointed to the professorship after Enkvist in 1983 he had prepare detailed and valuable notes for mee how to continue the ship design teaching.

In 1983 the new Wärtsilä ice model basin with new model ice was ready to serve the design of ice going vessels. The freezing of the new model ice based on the same technique as is used when skate rings are frozen from down to up. Nature’s ice freezes on the contrary direction from top to down. This new model ice was developed by a student in his master thesis. Enkvist was called to act as the director of Wärtsilä Arctic Research Centre (WARC). In addition to in-house and commercial projects post-graduate students conducted basic research. The co-operation with my own research group in Otaniemi was very active. Time to time I visited WARC and saw on the staircase wall a picture - presenting engineer Robert Runeberg, the son of Johan Ludvig Runeberg, the national poet of Finland. Robert Runeberg had graduated in 1867 from the manufacture and handicraft school, which later in 1908 became the Helsinki University of Technology. He is considered as the first naval architect in winter navigation with an equal idea on research based ship design as that of Ernst Enkvist.

In 1987 there occurred fundamental changes in the shipbuilding industry in Finland and thus Enkvist switched to full-time farming. He had already erlier bought the farm of Midgård in Inkoo and since 1975 had practiced part-time farming. When I visited the farm to discuss news from the University I got also a deep presentation at his farm laboratory about defining the quality of grain seeds. Once when I visited Midgård he took me to a warehouse building, where he presented an almost finished sail boat type Folkboat made of wood. I was speechless how handy and goal conscious he must have been in building the boat. And when driving back to home I came to the conclusion that with the same attitude Enkvist has made his dreams come true as a shipbuilder. 

Petri Varsta Emeritus Professor

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