In Memoriam: Arnold G. Sharp


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death September 3, 2005 of Arnold G. Sharp at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis after a brief illness.  He was 82.

Arnold Gideon Sharp was born May 16, 1923 in Worcester, MA and attended schools there, graduating from South High School in 1941. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1943, attended the U.S. Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School at Columbia University in 1945, and served as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve in the Pacific during 1945-1946.  He received a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Tufts University in 1946, and was an instructor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 1947 to 1953, when he received a M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the school. Arnold Sharp worked as an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts from 1953 to 1958, and was a lecturer at Lincoln College, Northeastern University, from 1960 to 1961. He did postgraduate work in engineering mechanics at Northeastern University from 1962 to 1966.

His affiliation with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution began with a summer job in 1956. He returned the following summer, and was hired as a mechanical engineer on a full-time basis in November 1958, working with Allyn Vine. He was promoted to research associate in 1963, to research specialist in 1978, and to senior engineer in 1991. He retired from WHOI in July 1988 and remained active until recently. At the time of his death he was working at the Institution on a casual basis.  

His research interests included underwater acoustics and underwater sound generators, fastening and joining methods, winch and winch drum design, deep submergence vehicle design, and oceanographic pressure vessel design.  Arnold Sharp was the author or co-author of more than 25 publications, and he held a patent for an impact energized sound source. Through the years he served in an advisory capacity and provided engineering assistance to a number of graduate students both in the MIT/ WHOI Joint Program and from other institutions.

Throughout his career beginning in 1947 he worked as a private engineering consultant in stress analysis and structural design.  He was a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and the Society for Experimental Stress Analysis.  

A quiet and cheerful man, Arnold Sharp was known as a skilled structural engineer whose work was meticulous and accepted with confidence. He played a major role in the Deep Submergence Vehicle Alvin program from the beginning, serving as as structural design and stress analysis engineer for the sub’s titanium frame and personnel sphere and for support vessel Lulu. He also designed and tested the emergency forebody release device for the submersible, studied and tested the electrical penetrators, and redesigned and tested a new drum for the trawl winch on R/V Knorr. Among his other major accomplishments were the design, weight and stability calculations for sediment transport tripods for USGS, an in situ seawater sampler, and for a bottom mounted current meter.

Co-workers in the Alvin Group rememeber Arnold fondly, noting that he was a pleasure to work with and always had the right answer. "His expertise was particularly valuable when Alvin was modified to increase its depth capability from 6,000 feet to nearly 15,000 feet, and again when the submersible moved aboard Atlantis II from the original support ship Lulu," a colleague said. " In each case, Arnold's efforts were largely responsible for the positive outcome. The National Deep Submergence Facility will greatly miss him as a friend and engineer."   

Survivors include his longtime friend, Bernice E. Salmonsen of Brewster, MA. There were no funeral services, and burial in All Faith’s Cemetery in Worcester, MA was private.


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Arnold Sharp (Courtesy WHOI Archives)