The Origins of GHS

In 1972 computers were expensive. A computer capable of running today's GHS cost millions of dollars. You could buy time on those "scientific" number crunchers at about $0.40 per CPU second, so it was possible to develop software without spending a fortune. It required writing code on paper and checking it carefully before submitting it to the computer for "batch" processing. In this manner a program called SCEND was written by an engineer-turned-programmer.

SCEND was a fresh start. It had no connection with SHCP or any other of its predecessors. It was designed in anticipation of interactive operation, and it pioneered features like multiple components, CG shifts in tanks, and a macro command language.

Selling Numbers

Creative Systems began as a computing service. Customers provided drawings and received back printouts presenting hydrostatic properties, cross curves, tank characteristics, etc. Garth Bedford was hired to help with model input—scaling offsets from drawings and recording them on punched cards. By the end of 1973, several naval architects in the Seattle area were using these services on a regular basis. Concurrently SCEND was being expanded and refined, benefiting greatly from the advice of those early customers—especially Ed Monk, Jr., Larry Glosten and company, Gil Nilson with Ben Jensen, and Jacob Fisker-Andersen.

The First Micro

In 1974 the promise of the microcomputer revolution appeared on the horizon, and Creative Systems acquired two of the early machines. While it would be some time before micros would compete with the mainframe, one of these computers was programmed to serve as a terminal, communicating with a remote mainframe computer. This allowed diskettes to replace punched cards, and the keypunch was eliminated. The first microcomputer program written to generate useful output was a tank-soundings calculator, which was demonstrated at a B. F. Jensen open house where a terminal was set up, allowing guests to witness the marvel of tank volumes and centers being calculated in real time and appearing on the screen before their eyes. This was the ancestor of the present TS program.

SCEND, still running on mainframe computers, was the primary number cruncher while an effort was underway that would eventually lead to BHS and GHS. The fledgling micro-computer industry was offering slow and limited hardware, so it was not immediately practical to replace SCEND. But faster and cheaper computers would become available, and inevitably there would be a demand for the software as the machines proliferated. But before investing in major software development, it was essential that the hardware platform selected would be the one to dominate the market. The choice became clear when IBM announced the PC.

BHS Version 1.0

Soon after the PC and its "clones" became available with integral diskette drives and math coprocessors, Ted Drake, a Seattle naval architect, came with a hopper dredge design for which he needed stability calculations with both mud and water in the hopper—and he wanted to include the effects of spilling. Since SCEND was unable to model spilling, the decision was made to develop a new program on the PC. The result was the first version of BHS. The year was 1982.

During 1983 and 1984, BHS matured to the point where it could duplicate most of what SCEND did, except the geometric models it based its calculations on had to be imported from SCEND. In 1985, work began on Part Maker and Section Editor. Part Maker came on line in 1986, and Section Editor arrived soon afterward, completing the essential modules of the GHS system. 

This happened just in time to meet the demands of customers who were acquiring their own PCs and starting to experiment with AutoCAD. It was clear that everyone would be running their own stability calculations. The service work which had sustained Creative Systems would be coming to an end. Several copies of the software were licensed to users. Among the software buyers were many of the old Seattle customers and some new ones from out of state such as Jack Hargrave, Robert Vlies of Peterson Builders, and Bob Hill of John W. Gilbert Assoc. Bob Hill in particular contributed to the development of GHS through his ideas and encouragement. 

The AutoShip/AutoHydro Connection

As service customers switched to being independent GHS users, it became necessary to look for additional business. The need for market expansion brought about an alliance with Grahame Shannon of Coast Design (later to become AutoShip Systems). Grahame was doing well selling lines-development programs AutoYacht and AutoShip, which were based on programs written by John Letcher of AeroHydro, Inc. A dealership contract was signed in late 1986, and Coast Design began selling GHS licenses along with AutoShip and also a reduced BHS version called BHS/Yacht which was packaged with AutoYacht. This boosted the international sales of both AutoShip and GHS. In order to secure this relationship, Coast Design began seeking a tighter identification with GHS and began calling GHS "AutoGHS". 

Through the urging of Mr. Shannon and his subsidiary dealer in Norway, Gunnar Solheim, a decision was made in 1987 to apply to the Norwegian Maritime Directorate for formal GHS approval. This entailed adding graphing features to GHS, which resulted in the Report Generator. After submitting extensive calculations on three test vessels, approval was granted for "AutoGHS".

By 1990, the sales of GHS had become quite strong, thanks, in part, to the marketing efforts of Coast Design. However, Creative Systems was being given little credit for GHS and its users were not getting the best possible support. With encouragement and consultation from Tom Bringloe of The Glosten Associates, plans were developed for building Creative Systems into a larger organization. This led to the decision to increase control over marketing which eventually resulted in the termination of Coast Design's dealership contract. By that time, Coast Design had already embarked on developing AutoHydro as their replacement for GHS.  The rapid development of AutoHydro was made possible by an agreement with Creative Systems which gave Coast Design the right to use certain portions of the GHS source code—but not to duplicate the look of GHS or use its documentation. Nevertheless, AutoHydro, including its documentation, turned out to look very much like GHS. Since 1992, many enhancements and improvements to GHS, as well as independent development of AutoHydro, have widened the gap between the two products. 

ABS Adopts GHS

In 1989, Donald Liu, senior vice president of the Technical Services Group at ABS (American Bureau of Shipping), took a close look at the commercial software available for ship stability on the PC. After a meeting at Creative Systems' office in Seattle, he ordered a complete set of the GHS software. This began a relationship with ABS that continues to the present day. ABS is the largest single user of GHS with copies installed at its offices worldwide. 

GHS Goes to Sea

In order to help supply the growing market for shipboard stability/strength software, Creative Systems developed a user interface for GHS which adapted it to the needs of ship operators. The resulting product was called GLM (originally General Load Monitor, now GHS Load Monitor). The first installation was on the F/V Island Enterprise in 1990. While she was on her first trip with GLM on board, a fax was received from skipper Jeff Boddington describing how he was able to make an extra haul before the closure deadline since he was able to quickly check stability before commencing the operation. That one bag of fish paid for the GLM license many times over. 

In 1994, Jack Kalro of the USA Military Sealift Command realized that it would reduce costs and improve performance to equip Sealift vessels with GLM rather than the software and methods they had been using. At about the same time, Elias Garcia of RINAVE in Portugal set out to develop extensions of GLM using the GHS Programming Interface. Mr. Garcia also contributed the petroleum temperature expansion algorithms which are now an integral part of GHS.

Growing Pains

Acting on the plans to expand its organization, Creative Systems was incorporated in 1990 in Washington State. In 1991, the office was moved from Seattle to Port Townsend, Washington and additional employees were hired. The board of directors was increased to include engineer Dave Udell and naval architect Tim Nolan. Emanuel Duarte and Jack Beaton were successively employed in sales (both having previously worked for Coast Design). John Gorrell was hired as office manager and Don Schmitt was employed to help with programming. Naval architect Phil Reed came on board to handle customer support and training. Unfortunately, sales did not increase quickly enough, and a deficit forced a cutback in the sales staff while Don Schmitt was lured away by Microsoft. Phil Reed continued until 1994 when he joined Pfitzco in Tampa, Florida. Phil continued to conduct occasional GHS training classes and eventually went on to work for Titan, using GHS in their salvage work. (Currently as Reed Maritime, Phil continues to apply GHS in salvage operations.)

Since 1994, Glenn Bauer, NA, PE has at various times assisted with customer support and training. In 1997, Eric Rhodes joined the company as office manager and soon became proficient enough with GHS to handle much of the technical support as well. Eric moved to Ireland in 2003, leaving a vacancy which Mike Roth filled until 2007 when Julie Knott took over as Business Manager. Stephen Schumacher, an essential part of the company since 1997, became chief programmer, half owner, and vice president of the corporation. Also in 2007, Stewart Carrington was hired to help with tech support as well as production, maintenance of in-house systems, and various administrative tasks. The board grew to five members: added were Steve Schumacher and his father, retired banker Bob Schumacher. Engineer Vic Patton replaced Dave Udell who went on to be with his Lord. 

In 2010, Creative Systems moved into a new specially-designed office building in Port Townsend built on property purchased with revenues from GHS sales. The building project was managed by then business manager Julie Knott. That same year Vic Patton retired from the board, insurance executive Tom Andritsch joined the board of directors, and John Christian joined the company as the new business manager. 

In 2011, Lucas Hurt, NA, PE came to work for Creative Systems. Lucas came on board well qualified with a decade of experience as a naval architect. His GHS experience goes back to his college days at Webb Institute of Naval Architecture. His duties include technical support and training of GHS users. Luke has become a member of the board of directors, an officer of the corporation, and part owner.

Early in 2012, Eric Rhodes returned from Ireland and rejoined Creative Systems as technical support and facilities manager. With over 15 years experience using GHS, Eric, provides front-line support.

With the year 2016 came two departures: Board member Tom Andritsch passed away in August, joining Dave Udell in their higher calling. Also John Christian was let go, leaving the sales/business manager slot open. In March of 2017 Colin Aiken was hired to replace John.

Successes at Salvage

Thanks to its "first-principles" approach to the calculations, GHS has always been a capable tool for salvage work. As far back as 1993, Phil Reed presented a SNAME paper demonstrating the application of the ground reaction method pioneered by GHS in the refloating of the M.V. Frota Humaita at Dunkirk, France. Ken Edgar of Marine Response Consultants became partial to GHS for salvage work and continues to be a strong proponent. GHS is often used in major salvage efforts such as the Costa Concordia refloating. GHS was featured in a Wired Magazine article on the Cougar Ace salvage and in the National Geographic TV special on the flooding and breakup of the Titanic, where the panel of experts included Brian Thomas, a naval architect and salvage engineer who in addition to conducting GHS training classes contributes to GHS product development.

The Origin of IMSA 

In 1991, Design Systems and Services (later Proteus Engineering a division of Anteon Corporation), together with HydroComp and Creative Systems, laid the groundwork for the IMSA organization (International Marine Software Associates) as well as the IDF file format which was designed as a universal communication channel for the types of data involved in various marine software programs. Design Systems also became a dealer for GHS, enlisting Nick Danese to be its European representative under the name Design Systems Europe (later Design Systems and Technologies).

The Sales Network 

In 1992, ABS became a worldwide GHS dealer, and Calvin Chai, under the leadership of Faith Lee, worked out a companion interface for GHS, which they distribute with GHS, calling the package ABSGHS. Proteus Engineering also used GHS in their FlagShip product which integrated several marine software programs. 

During the 1990s, additional GHS representatives were established, including RINAVE for Portugal, Delteq Systems for Singapore, Marcon Engineering for the Netherlands and Northern Europe, Nick Danese for Western and Eastern Europe, Barry Kingwill for South Africa, Alejandro Pita & Guillermo Fisch for Latin America and the Iberian Penninsula, Jim Leake for UAE and surrounding area, and Ravi Panth for India. Subsequently, in the early 2000s, Sea Quest Technology replaced Delteq in Singapore and Benny Alex of Oasis Ship Management took over after Jim Leake left the United Arab Emirates. Ichiro Ueno of Seals, Ltd became a dealer in Japan. Nick Danese gained most of Europe. Guillermo Fisch continued his dealership while Barry Kingwill focused on salvage operations. In 2008, Sea Tech Solutions became a dealership primarily focused on India while being located in both India and Singapore. Also in 2008, Singtong Marine and Offshore Pte Ltd became a dealership serving China. Anna Wang of Singtong Marine, an exceptionally bright GHS user, made a Chinese-language translation of the GHS user manual and other reference material.

Currently, most of Europe and the Middle East is represented by NDAR (Nick Danese Applied Research). The team at NDAR, including Stephanie Gros and Stephane Dardel, provide GHS support and training in Europe as well as in the Middle East. China and Hong Kong are solely represented by Steven Xu and associates at Singtong Marine and Offshore Pte Ltd. Eldho Mathew and staff at EMAR Pte Ltd is the GHS representative in India. See the current list of dealers.

GHS and GUIs

Before graphical user interfaces were available on the PC, GHS was a DOS application. The transition to the Windows operating system would have been a monumental task with risks to product integrity if it had not been for the extraordinary work of Steve Schumacher in developing an automatic translator for the GHS code. But even that was a substantial undertaking that took many months to complete. (Thanks to the translator, a DOS-based version of GHS can be produced from the current code if needed.)  Meanwhile, in 1995, Bob Horsefield, a naval architect and computer programmer, brought out a product he called "Windows Manager for GHS" under the company name Visual Systems Workshop. WMGHS worked alongside GHS and added some Windows-oriented functions. (In 2015, Bob announced that VSW is leaving the field since WMGHS offers little that is not available directly in GHS.)

Continuing Growth

GHS continues to be a popular and well-respected program. GHS licenses have been purchased by government, military and bureau organizations including the US Coast Guard and US Navy. The Canadian Coast Guard and Department of Defense have adopted GHS as their standard. Most of the credit for the success of GHS goes to its users. Creative System's business model depends on the advice and enthusiasm of users who contribute to development. Unlike its competition, Creative Systems has never received financial assistance from government, university, or a parent corporation. It is entirely user supported.


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