The educational project “Personalities of the Russian Community Abroad. 1920-1945”

Vladimir Yurkevich

Vladimir Yurkevich

Vladimir Yurkevich

(1885 – 1964)

A naval engineer and designer of the ocean liner SS Normandie, one of the largest passenger ships in XX c. that became the pioneer for the new era of shipbuilding and transatlantic trips.

He was born in 1885 into a noble family. In 1909 he graduated from the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute. As soon as he got a degree of a shipbuilding engineer, he was hired by the Baltic Shipyard and Mechanical Plant. He took part in designing battleships of “Sevastopol” type and battlecruisers of “Ismael” type. He was the one who designed the “Forel” and “Yorsh” submarines. During WWI, as a junior captain, he worked at the shipbuilding department of the Naval General Staff; he was among the designers of Russian super-dreadnought battlecruisers.

After the October Revolution in 1920 Yurkevich left Russia. After a short time in Istanbul he moved to Paris. There he had to work as a draughtsman at the Renault car factory. Then he met the head of Penhoët shipbuilding company that was the leader of the large-scale shipbuilding.  The Russian engineer began to design a massive passenger ocean liner for transatlantic voyages. He proposed the unusual hull for the liner that had peculiar “bulbous-like” lines. The project designed by Yurkevich was chosen as the best one among 20 variants and was used to construct the SS Normandie.

The liner has become one of the largest (83,400 tons), fastest (28 knots) and most comfortable ships in the world. After its maiden voyage in 1935 the liner was awarded “The Blue Riband” as it broke records for the shortest time of crossing and the fastest average speed.


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