Du Cane, Peter

Du Cane, Peter
SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
b. England
d. 31 October 1984
English engineer, one of the foremost designers of small high-speed ships.
Peter Du Cane was appointed a midshipman in the Royal Navy in 1913, having commenced as a cadet at the tender age of 13. At the end of the First World War he transferred to the engineering branch and was posted ultimately to the Yangtze River gunboat fleet. In 1928 he resigned, trained as a pilot and then joined the shipbuilders Vosper Ltd of Portsmouth. For thirty-five years he held the posts of Managing Director and Chief Designer, developing the company's expertise in high-speed, small warships, pleasure craft and record breakers. During the Second World War the company designed and built many motor torpedo-boats, air-sea rescue craft and similar ships. Du Cane served for some months in the Navy, but at the request of the Government he returned to his post in the shipyard. The most glamorous products of the yard were the record breakers Bluebird II, with which Malcolm Campbell took the world water speed record in 1939, and the later Crusader, in which John Cobb lost his life. Despite this blow the company went from strength to strength, producing the epic Brave class fast patrol craft for the Royal Navy, which led to export orders. In 1966 the yard merged with John I.Thornycroft Ltd. Commander Du Cane retired seven years later.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Commander of the Royal Navy. CBE 1965.
1951, High Speed Small Craft, London: Temple Press.
Further Reading
C.Dawson, 1972, A Quest for Speed at Sea, London: Hutchinson.

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

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