In this paper a technical analysis of an ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) system is performed. Specifically, we present a general mathematical framework for the synthesis of OTEC power generating systems. The overall synthesis task is to minimize heat exchange area requirements, while generating some fraction of the maximum net power recoverable from hot and cold ocean water. The resulting problem formulation yields a nonlinear, nonconvex mathematical program; however, we show that globally optimal solutions for this program are easily obtained explicitly through a direct optimization approach with minimal computational effort over a wide range of thermodynamic conditions. The proposed analysis is demonstrated on a case study involving the generation of hydrogen by an OTEC system with a pure ammonia working fluid.