Watts, Philip

Watts, Philip
SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
b. 30 May 1846 Portsmouth, England
d. 15 March 1926 probably London, England
English naval architect, shipbuilding manager and ultimately Director of Naval Construction.
Since he had a long family connection with the naval base at Portsmouth, it is not surprising that Watts started to serve his apprenticeship there in 1860. He was singled out for advanced training and then in 1866 was one of three young men selected to attend the Royal School of Naval Architecture at South Kensington in London. On completing his training he joined the technical staff, then had a period as a ship overseer before going to assist William Froude for two years, an arrangement which led to a close friendship between Watts and the two Froudes. Some interesting tasks followed: the calculations for HM Armoured Ram Polyphemus; the setting up of a "calculating" section within the Admiralty; and then work as a constructor at Chatham Dockyard. In 1885 the first major change of direction took place: Watts resigned from naval service to take the post of General Manager of the Elswick shipyard of Sir W.G.Armstrong. This was a wonderful opportunity for an enthusiastic and highly qualified man, and Watts rose to the challenge. Elswick produced some of the finest warships at the end of the nineteenth century and its cruisers, such as the Esmeralda of the Chilean Navy, had a legendary name.
In 1902 he was recalled to the Navy to succeed Sir William White as Director of Naval Construction (DNC). This was one of the most exciting times ever in warship design and it was during Watts's tenure of the post that the Dreadnought class of battleship was produced, the submarine service was developed and the destroyer fleet reached high levels of performance. It has been said that Watts's distinct achievements as DNC were greater armament per ton displacement, higher speeds and better manoeuvring, greater protection and, almost as important, elegance of appearance. Watt retired in 1912 but remained a consultant to the Admiralty until 1916, and then joined the board of Armstrong Whitworth, on which he served until his death.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Knighted 1905. FRS 1900. Chairman, Board of Trade's Load Line Committee 1913. Vice-President, Society for Nautical Research (upon its founding), and finally Chairman for the Victory preservation and technical committee. Honorary Vice-President, Institution of Naval Architects 1916. Master of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights 1915.
Watts produced many high-quality technical papers, including ten papers to the Institution of Naval Architects.

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

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