Hitoshi Narita tells us that as a child growing up in Nagoya, Japan, he was fascinated by large structures…airplanes, ships, trains… anything that was large, mechanical, and moved. Watching the large cargo ships coming in and out of the ports near his home, he knew even then that he wanted to be involved in some way with them. It was no surprise to his parents, then, that when he was ready for university, Narita set his sights on a degree in Naval Architecture at the University of Tokyo.
Narita later received a Masters' degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a Fulbright Scholarship, and then his Doctoral degree in Engineering back at Tokyo.
Along the way, working for Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., Narita started out in ship design, and went on to work in research and development. He developed the world's first use of the SWATH ("small waterplane area twin hull" — a catamaran-like design) for large commercial ferries. The outstanding seakeeping capability and success of these ferries led to many other ships being built to the same innovative design, including oceanographic survey ships, pleasure crafts and sightseeing boats as well as naval ships.
Also, during the 1970s, Narita lead the development of the novel and extremely reliable Mitsui Integrated Duct Propeller (MIDP) for fuel saving in large ships, which effectively eliminated the constant erosion caused by cavitation from the ship's propeller on the conventional propeller duct by moving the duct forward and designing a non-symmetrical duct adapted to the stern flow. This increased propeller efficiency and virtually eliminated the shipyard downtime necessary to correct the erosion problem. It led to substantial fuel savings in over 200 ships, including all of Exxon's Very Large Crude Carriers. Many new ships were built with this design, and older ships were retrofitted.
Later in the 90s Dr. Narita was given broader responsibility for managing Research and Development, as well as business development at Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding.
Over the last 20 years, Dr. Narita has received many honors for successful contributions in the marine field, including the National Medal of Honor of Japan with Purple Ribbon in 1990, the Medal of the Minister of Transport in 1989, the Medal of the Kanto District Marine Bureau in 1988, and the Ichimura Prize in 1981.
On 11 November, 2002, Dr. Hitoshi Narita was distinguished by Great Britain's Royal Academy of Engineering for his achievements of exceptional merit and distinction in naval architecture, specifically the SWATH ferries and the MIDP propeller design, and was honored by His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh. The prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering, founded a quarter century ago on the initiative of HRH Prince Philip upon consent of the Queen, elects by invitation only up to 60 of the world's most eminent engineers each year. Dr. Narita joins an elite group of only 86 other Foreign Members in the Royal Academy.
Dr. Hitoshi Narita is currently senior advisor for science and technology at the Office of Naval Research's International Field Office, Asia. In this position, he coordinates partnerships between Japanese and American science and technology organizations. Thanks to his efforts, the Naval Research Laboratory is set to sign a contract with Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology (AIST) to participate in a methane hydrate exploitation program. This is the first time a direct contract between an entity of the Japanese government and a US Department of Defense organization has been brokered.