The Naval Architect who wasn't.....

By Captain E. S. Geary, FRICS, FRINA, FCMS.

Management companies, employers, HR professionals, and head-hunters report that upwards of 40% of the CV's they receive contain intentionally inflated or exaggerated qualifications, non existent credentials or falsified certificates of training. Because the legal consequences of misrepresentation in English Law and English Tort Law addressed in the Misrepresentation Act 1967 can be quite severe professional organizations and employers must exercise caution and diligence. A misrepresentation may be made fraudulently, negligently, or non-negligently (innocently) which requires that all CV's or other documents attesting to a persons training, experience, qualifications, and credentials must always be carefully vetted and verified. In some cases fraudulent misrepresentation is considered criminal.

Before they are accepted as members professional maritime organizations such as those of Engineers, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers in the USA carefully vet and verify members' claims of training, qualifications, continuing education and that they adhere to a strict Code of Professional Conduct. Unfortunately some surveyor organizations in the United Kingdom do not.

Classification Societies such as ABS, Lloyd's, GL/DNV, and BV require and maintain high standards with continuing education and training for their surveyors which sadly is not the case with many independent organizations and self-employed yacht surveyors. One example is a 100 year old UK surveyor organization that advertises and promotes services of condition and valuation surveys through what they describe as their Large Yacht Group (LYG). The Organization encourages unsuspecting clients to engage their services and while some may be competent in limiting their report to a yacht's condition, they fail to disclose that none of these LYG surveyors hold professional qualifications or accreditation to conduct valuation surveys in compliance with the legal requirements of the International Valuations Standards (IVS) or the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) in the United States. Another case of misrepresentation and negligence by the same organization allowed one of their surveyor members to falsely promote his expertise in marine valuations while fraudulently representing himself as a naval architect.

The masquerade of this charlatan was exposed after he had written an incoherent, rambling and fallacious article about yacht valuations which appeared in the Newsletter of a UK surveyor organization. Another surveyor and member of the same organization having read other articles on valuation by an accredited marine appraiser expressed doubts about the accuracy and reliability of the views and the comments that were expressed on valuations even though the author also claimed to be a naval architect with expertise ranging from dinghies to superyachts.

At the present time there are two international organizations that are recognized and endow accredited designations for appraisers of maritime assets, The American Society of Appraisers (ASA) in Washington and The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in London. In the case of the Valuations article the question arose if the author was qualified and held accreditation as a marine appraiser with certification by the RICS and if he was a naval architect, was he a member of The Royal Institution of Naval Architects.

The author of the Valuations article admitted he hadn't received professional recognition as a naval architect and was not an accredited marine appraiser. He was not a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors nor was he a member of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects. In addition to having no academic qualifications or credentials in maritime valuations he also hadn't qualified or received professional accreditation as a Naval Architect, but had simply self-delegated and bestowed the title upon him self.

Confronted with his charade and fraudulent misrepresentation of being a naval architect he acknowledged that he didn't have an honorary or had earned a degree in naval architecture, but as he'd read some books, attended various courses and seminars, and mentored with who he described as a responsible third person, and even though professionally unqualified, felt he was entitled to use the title and designation as a Naval Architect.

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge." - Stephen Hawking

The Naval Architect who wasn't had been able to continue his nefarious deception for a number of years because this particular surveyor organization, which has been around since the early 1900's, and in spite of a professed programme of Continuing Professional Monitoring fails to vet or verify their member's claims of training, qualifications and accreditations. Professional organizations who ignore and allow impostors and con-artists to falsely describe themselves as appraisers of marine assets, marine surveyors or naval architects casts a dark shadow and degrades the image and reputation of those who have earned and been awarded their designations through training, academic achievement and who endorse and strictly adhere to the principles of the Code of Professional Conduct.

After many years of his deception being unchallenged he said he was aware of the organizations poor administrative practices in vetting and verification, but comfortable knowing that other members of the organization had also exaggerated, inflated and misrepresented their professional qualifications.

When confronted The Naval Architect who wasn't didn't hesitate to opine about the organizations neglect and sloppy oversight, "There are a number of members whose knowledge and professionalism falls short in some areas, however many letters they have after their name." [SIC]

While confirming that the 'letters after their name' may be bogus and a misrepresentation of their qualifications he was confident believing that people in glass houses don't throw stones - confidence that was shattered when his heinous conduct was exposed by sources whose glass is bullet-proof.

Whilst their negligence and failure to expose a bogus naval architect was clearly an embarrassment, it wasn't the first humiliation this UK surveyor organization had experienced. Previously a lawyer who, amongst other reprehensible and illegal acts had been permanently disbarred by the Law Society for misappropriation of his client's funds and without any nautical training had been accepted in the organization as a marine surveyor. The disbarred lawyer, now designated as a qualified marine surveyor was a member of the same organization as the Naval Architect who wasn't.

Relying on the Organizations assurances of being a qualified marine surveyor the disbarred lawyer was instructed by a client to complete a pre-purchase survey of a large sailing yacht. As a result of his negligence and incompetence he provided the prospective buyer with a pre- purchase survey of the 80' yacht that was seriously flawed. However, believing the yacht was in excellent condition as the survey report had indicated, and unaware of the hull problems the sale was completed. It was only later that the new owner learned that the disbarred lawyer who had been represented to be a qualified marine surveyor had failed to report major delamination of the GRP hull which was subsequently revealed when the yacht arrived in Gibraltar en-route to Antigua.

When chocked, the weight of the yacht caused the keel to press against the bottom of the weakened hull where it displayed a deep concave depression. The extensive delamination was in evidence on the hull surrounding and adjacent to the heavy fin keel. If the yacht had left Gibraltar for Las Palmas parametric rolling and the keel's swinging motion would have resulted in subsequent failure of the GRP hull and loss of the keel. The loss of the keel would have immediately changed the Virtual Centre of Gravity (VCG) resulting in immediate capsizing and the injury or death of her crew. The keel could have separated from the hull before reaching the Canaries or later mid-Atlantic.

The delamination was so extensive that the cost to restore the hull's integrity would exceed its actual value; being un-repairable, unsafe, and unseaworthy the yacht's value was limited to scrap. Legal proceedings found the marine surveyor had no PI insurance or seize-able assets causing the new owner to subsequently lose upwards of £200,000.00.

In spite of having been disbarred by the Law Society for the misappropriation of his client's funds and without vetting or verification of his maritime or marine survey experience it was found that the disbarred lawyer had been accepted as a member not just by one, but by two UK surveyor organizations as a qualified marine surveyor.

Administrative negligence by surveyor organizations and their failure of proper managerial oversight and the disregard of proper vetting and verification of qualifications and accreditations is a clear and present danger to ship and yacht owners, both large and small.

From an insurance prospective if a bogus Naval Architect or an unqualified surveyor is negligent in carrying out their responsibilities that ultimately results in damages or the loss of a ship or yacht a claim could be made against them through their PI Policy.

If however, upon receipt of a claim the underwriters find that their application for PI coverage includes self-designation of professional qualifications where he or she had not received recognized and official accreditation of expertise, it may be deemed a material misrepresentation and their PI Policy could be voided from inception. Unless they had seize-able personal assets the ship or yacht's owner would be left without recourse.

Some professional organizations and associations continue to disregard proper vetting and verification allowing for impostors with self-anointed qualifications and accreditations to slither within our midst degrading professional standards. Any client who believes that he or she has been a victim and sustained damages as a result of fraudulent misrepresentation of qualifications should file a formal complaint with the individual's organization where membership is held. If the officers and directors of the organization fail to promptly respond to the complaint in accordance with the organizations Code of Professional Conduct their illicit conduct and malfeasance should be reported to the appropriate UK government regulatory agencies responsible for oversight and compliance.

Like President Reagan once said, "Trust, but Verify."

Captain E. S. Geary, P.Eng (UK)
RICS Chartered Surveyor (Admiralty & Maritime)

Fellow: The Royal Institution of Naval Architects
Fellow: The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Fellow: The Society of Consulting Marine Engineers & Ship Surveyors
Fellow: The Society of Diagnostic Engineers
Member: The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (USA)
MCA/US Coast Guard/US Maritime Administration Certified ISPS Code Port, Company & Vessel Security Officer

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