School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Dr Simon Benson

Lecturer in Naval Architecture



I am a lecturer in naval architecture and undergraduate admissions tutor for marine technology.


I graduated  from Newcastle University with an MEng Naval Architecture degree (first class). After working in industry for BMT Fluid Mechanics and IHC Engineering Business I returned to Newcastle and completed a PhD investigating the structural performance of aluminium high speed ships. I then continued post doctoral research investigating the influence of large scale damage on the residual strength of lightweight ships. Both my PhD and post doctoral work were sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. The work has resulted in the release of a progressive collapse code (ProColl) which is now incorporated into the commercial ship structural analysis program MAESTRO and is used by the US Navy amongst others. I was appointed as a lecturer at Newcastle University in October 2012.


I am a member of the Marine, Offshore and Subsea Technology group in the School of Engineering. My research mostly involves the application of numerical and experimental methods to predict the fluid-structure interaction of ships and offshore structures. My work addresses the challenges around improved analysis of marine structures by working at the interface between numerical approaches and experimental validation. I am involved in research with application to cargo ships, naval ships, remotely operated vehicles, marine renewable devices and search & rescue craft. My research is currently supported by the Office of Naval Research (USA), the UK Technology Strategy Board and directly through industrial partners. I am a member of the International Ship and Offshore Structures Congress (ISSC) - Committee III.1 Ultimate Strength.

Teaching and Learning

I teach aspects of engineering fundamentals, naval architecture and marine structures. In addition to lecturing, I am the undergraduate admissions tutor for marine technology programmes. I am often involved in outreach programmes to promote STEM subjects including Smallpeice and Headstart courses. 


Current Projects

Structural Performance of Damaged Naval Vessel (funded by ONR). 2012-2016

Prof Bob Dow, Dr Simon Benson

We are investigating ways to extend and improve the simplified progressive collapse method for the treatment of different load combinations (such as shear and torsion) and severe damage. The project is funded by the Office of Naval Research and  follows directly from a previous programme. The project supports two PhD students (Maria Syrigou and May Leelachai). Principle Investigator is Prof. Bob Dow.

Polymer Failures on Superyacht Structures (KTP Partnership with Safinah). 2013-2016

Prof Bob Dow, Dr Simon Benson, Maria Prodromou

The project aims to investigate the performance of epoxy based fillers which form the smooth outer layers of luxury yachts. The project is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Safinah, a marine coatings specialist consultancy. We are using finite element methods and will validate with material and structural tests. The project supports a KTP associate, Maria Prodromou, who is also studying towards a PhD. Principle Investigator is Prof. Bob Dow.

Launch and Recovery of Subsea Vehicles (KTP Partnership with SMD). 2014-2016

Dr Simon Benson, Dr Musa Bashir, Dr Alan Murphy

We are investigating the fluid-structure interaction during the launch and recovery of a subsea vehicle (ROV). The project is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Soil Machine Dynamics, one of the world's leading manufacturers of remote intervention equipment. We are specifically interested in the behaviour of the ROV as it passes through the free surface in different wave conditions. The project aims to develop an improved method for estimating the motion of the ROV and the subsequent loads on the launch and recovery system (LARS). The research involves numerical modelling and scaled experiments in the hydrodynamic laboratories at Newcastle University. The project supports a KTP associate, Dr Musa Bashir. 

Structural Design Guidelines for Search and Rescue Craft (funded by RNLI). 2014-2017

Prof Richard Birmingham, Dr Simon Benson, Prof Bob Dow, Federico Prini

This project is supported by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The research addresses the structural design of all-weather search and rescue craft. The main aim is to provide the RNLI with new practical and theoretical expertise to improve the design, operation and maintenance practice of its all-weather lifeboats. The current status of the RNLI’s all-weather search and rescue fleet will be evaluated in terms of design, actual hull loads experienced and consequent structural response. A computational model for the prediction of the hull loads that the craft is likely to experience in its lifetime will be developed. The response of the structure to the calculated loads will be analysed by means of a numerical model based on finite element method. The validity and predictive accuracy of the numerical model will be assessed through extensive comparison with model-scale and full-scale tests.


Current Modules

  • Marine Mechanics (Stage 1)
  • Materials in the Marine Environment (Stage 1)
  • Marine Structures (Stage 2)
  • Engineering Applications (Stage 2)
  • Ship / Small Craft Design (Stage 3)
  • Advanced Marine Structures (Stage 4 / MSc)