Taylor, David Watson

SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
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b. 4 March 1864 Louisa County, Virginia, USA
d. 29 July 1940 Washington, DC, USA
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American hydrodynamicist and Rear Admiral in the United States Navy Construction Corps.
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Taylor's first years were spent on a farm in Virginia, but at the age of 13 he went to RandolphMacon College, graduating in 1881, and from there to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis. He graduated at the head of his class, had some sea time, and then went to the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, England, where in 1888 he again came top of the class with the highest-ever marks of any student, British or overseas.
On his return to the United States he held various posts as a constructor, ending this period at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California. In 1894 he was transferred to Washington, where he joined the Bureau of Construction and started to interest the Navy in ship model testing. Under his direction, the first ship model tank in the United States was built at Washington and for fourteen years operated under his control. The work of this establishment gave him the necessary information to write the highly acclaimed text The Speed and Power of Ships, which with revisions is still in use. By the outbreak of the First World War he was one of the world's most respected naval architects, and had been retained as a consultant by the British Government in the celebrated case of the collision between the White Star Liner Olympic and HMS Hawke.
In December 1914 Taylor became a Rear-Admiral and was appointed Chief Constructor of the US Navy. His term of office was extremely stressful, with over 1,000 ships constructed for the war effort and with the work of the fledgling Bureau for Aeronautics also under his control. The problems were not over in 1918 as the Washington Treaty required drastic pruning of the Navy and a careful reshaping of the defence force.
Admiral Taylor retired from active service at the beginning of 1923 but retained several consultancies in aeronautics, shipping and naval architecture. For many years he served as consultant to the ship-design company now known as Gibbs and Cox. Many honours came his way, but the most singular must be the perpetuation of his name in the David Taylor Medal, the highest award of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers in the United States. Similarly, the Navy named its ship test tank facility, which was opened in Maryland in 1937, the David W. Taylor Model Basin.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
President, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers 1925–7. United States Distinguished Service Medal. American Society of Civil Engineers John Fritz Medal. Institution of Naval Architects Gold Medal 1894 (the first American citizen to receive it). Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers David W.Taylor Medal 1936 (the first occasion of this award).
Bibliography
Resistance of Ships and Screw Propulsion. 1911, The Speed and Power of Ships, New York: Wiley.
Taylor gave many papers to the Maritime Institutions of both the United States and the United Kingdom.
FMW

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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