In Memoriam: Harrison T. Loeser ‘43

Webb Institute is sorry to report the passing of Webb’s oldest living alumni, Harrison T. Loeser ’43. He passed away in Waterford, CT at the age of 98, on Wednesday, January 17, 2018.

Loeser wrote a book about his life and career as a naval architect and marine engineer in a book entitled, Tales of an Engineer. The book is available free online, thanks to Webb Institute. The 60-page soft cover, perfect bound book can be obtained by sending a check for $10.00 plus $2.50 shipping and handling to The Proper Exposure at P.O. Box 1070, New London, CT 06320.

About Harrison T. Loeser ’43: 

He graduated from Bayside High School and then attended Webb Institute of Naval Architecture. He married Grace (Molwitz) Loeser upon graduation, then after a brief stint at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, he shipped out to Pearl Harbor where he was involved in the repair of ships damaged in the Pacific theater. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 1943-46.

After the war, he joined Bethlehem Steel Corporation where he worked on the design of Naval and Merchant ships, including supertankers, the C-4 Mariner Class cargo vessels, passenger liners, the SS Independence and SS Constitution, as well as dry docks and drill platforms.

In 1953, he joined the Electric Boat (EB) Division of General Dynamics. The company gave him the opportunity to earn his master’s in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at MIT. There he received training in nuclear engineering which he used on the design of the power plant on the first nuclear-powered submarine – the USS Nautilus. Next, he was made an engineer on several nuclear projects, including the USS Skate (the first watercraft to surface at the North Pole), the USS Triton and the USS Seawolf.

He became a supervisor in the new research and development department where his projects included the submarine – test and research (STAR) series of one-man submarines, as well as work on the General Dynamics-deep submergence research vessel (GD-DSRV) project. He went on to a position as director of marine systems at the General Dynamics corporate office in New York. Before leaving EB, he became the chief Naval architect of advance engineering and program development at Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in Quincy,Mass. While working at EB, he was awarded several patents involving arrays and radiation processing.

In 1968, he accepted a position at the Naval Underwater Systems Center in New London (now the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I.). While employed there, he helped select and locate acoustic arrays on the Trident class submarines. He also attended the Naval War College in Newport and was appointed science advisor to the U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet operating in the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea. He worked again on the USS Nautilus, this time heading up the installation of the marine acoustic communications sonar (MACS) arrays that tested long distance sonar transmission. He was also responsible for installing research equipment on submarines for polar research.He retired in 1984, but continued his acoustics work, writing the Sonar Engineering Handbook (1992) and the Fundamentals of Ship Acoustics (1996) .In his senior years, he penned short stories of events that occurred to him over the course of his career which were published this fall as The Tales of an Engineer.In his retirement he thoroughly enjoyed sailing the waters off southeastern Connecticut.

He volunteered in the community as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, Boy Scout commissioner, treasurer of the West Farms Land Trust,ethics commissioner, charter revision commissioner, and as a Friend of Harkness Memorial Park.His wife Grace died in 2015. He is survived by a sister; children, Christopher Loeser (Christine), Jane Loeser Clukay (Robert) of Groton, and Douglas Loeser(Amy Horne); three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, two nieces and a nephew. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

Donations in his name can be made to the Friends of Harkness Memorial State Park, Box 10, Waterford, CT 06385 or Webb Institute, 298 Crescent Beach Road, Glen Cove, NY 11542.