Washington L. Capps

Rear Admiral Washington Lee Capps (31 January 1864 – 31 May 1935) was an officer of the United States Navy, who served during the Spanish–American War and World War I. In the first years of the 20th century, he served as Constructor of the Navy and Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, with responsibility for naval shipbuilding.

Washington Lee Capps
BornJanuary 31, 1864
Portsmouth, Virginia
DiedMay 31, 1935 (aged 71)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial
Allegiance United States
Service/branchSeal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service1884–1935
RankRear admiral
Battles/warsSpanish–American War World War I

Early life and career

Capps was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, 31 January 1864. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1884. Upon graduation, he served in the screw frigate Tennessee for the two years of sea duty then customary prior to receiving his officer's commission.

After becoming an ensign in 1886, Capps studied naval architecture at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. After returning to the United States in 1888, he was appointed Assistant Naval Constructor. He undertook brief duty at the Navy Department, and was then assigned to William Cramp & Sons' shipyard in Philadelphia.

Capps moved to the New York Navy Yard in 1889 and remained there joining the Bureau of Construction and Repair in 1892. Three years later he became the superintending constructor at the Union Iron Works in San Francisco. There, he supervised the construction of Oregon (Battleship No. 3), Wisconsin (Battleship No. 9), Farragut (Torpedo Boat No. 11), Marietta (Gunboat No. 15), and Wheeling (Gunboat No. 14).

Spanish–American War and afterward

Later attached to the staff of Commodore George Dewey, commander of the Asiatic Squadron, Capps was present during the Battle of Manila Bay. After the capture of Manila, Capps had three of the Spanish warships salvaged and repaired.

Upon his return to the United States, Capps spent two years with the Board of Inspection Survey. He followed this with a tour of duty as the Head, Construction and Repair Department at the New York Navy Yard.

Constructor of the Navy / Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair

In 1903, Capps became Constructor of the Navy, as well as Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, with the rank of rear admiral. He served in the position until 1910.

During his tenure as Constructor of the Navy, the Bureau tested and adopted numerous new ideas in warship design. Among his notable innovations was the decision to mount battleships' main batteries on the centerline, thereby increasing their broadside weight of metal to the maximum.

Other pre-World War I activities

Capps also served on a number of American and international committees which had been established for such purposes—among others—as improving the organization of the Navy and adopting new safety measures at sea to prevent a recurrence of disasters such as the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912.

World War I and post-war service

During World War I, Capps was senior member of the Navy Compensation Board, which oversaw the costs of the Navy's expanded ship-acquisition program. He also served as general manager of the United States Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation.

Forced by poor health to relinquish these duties for a time, Capps returned to his position on the Compensation Board, became the senior member of the Naval War Claims Board, and served on other boards and committees.

Although placed on the retired list effective 31 January 1928, Capps continued on active duty until the day of his death at Washington, D.C., on 31 May 1935. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


During World War II, the Navy honored Rear Admiral Capps by naming two vessels after him: the destroyer USS Capps (DD-550), commissioned in 1942; and the Type P2-SE2-R1 transport USS Admiral W. L. Capps (AP-121), commissioned on 18 September 1944.

External links

Bureau of Construction and Repair

The Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) was the part of the United States Navy which from 1862 to 1940 was responsible for supervising the design, construction, conversion, procurement, maintenance, and repair of ships and other craft for the Navy. The bureau also managed shipyards, repair facilities, laboratories, and shore stations.

On 20 June 1940, Congress passed a law which consolidated the Bureau's functions with those of the Bureau of Engineering (BuEng), creating the Bureau of Ships (BuShips).

Capps (surname)

Capps is a surname, and may refer to:

Charles Capps (1934–2014), American Christian preacher

Charles Capps (politician) (1925–2009), American politician

Edwin M. Capps (1860–1938), American politician

Hahn William Capps (1903–1998), American entomologist

J. Russell Capps, American politician

Lois Capps (born 1938), American politician

Matt Capps (born 1983), American baseball player

Steve Capps, American programmer

Walter Capps (1934–1997), American politician

Washington L. Capps (1864–1935), American naval officer

Delaware-class battleship

The Delaware-class battleships of the United States Navy were the second class of American dreadnoughts. With this class, the 16,000 long tons (16,257 t) limit imposed on capital ships by the United States Congress was waived, which allowed designers at the Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair to correct what they considered flaws in the preceding South Carolina class and produce ships not only more powerful but also more effective and rounded overall. Launched in 1909, these ships became the first in US naval history to exceed 20,000 long tons (20,321 t).The Delawares carried a battery of ten 12-inch (305 mm) guns in five turrets, an increase of two guns over the South Carolinas. With these ships, the US Navy re-adopted a full-fledged medium-caliber weapon for anti-torpedo boat defense. While the 5-inch (127 mm) gun was smaller than that used by other major navies, this would, with few exceptions, become the standard medium-gun caliber for the US Navy for the better part of the 20th century. As for speed, the Delawares were capable of 21 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h), a significant improvement over the earlier class's 18.5 kn (21 mph; 34 km/h). This would become the speed for all American standard-type battleships. Propulsion systems were mixed; while North Dakota was fitted with steam turbines, Delaware retained triple-expansion engines. US turbines at this point did not give great advantages in output or speed over triple-expansion systems, as turbine manufacturers in the US still faced great engineering difficulties. Turbines were also much less fuel-efficient, a significant concern for a Navy with Pacific responsibilities but lacking Britain's extensive network of coaling stations.

These ships saw varied service during their careers. During World War I, Delaware was part of Battleship Division Nine of the US Atlantic Fleet, and was assigned to the British Grand Fleet. She escorted convoys and participated in the blockade of the German High Seas Fleet. In contrast, North Dakota remained on the American coast throughout the war, due in part to worries about her troublesome turbine engines. Post-war, they conducted training cruises with the US Atlantic Fleet. In 1924, Delaware was broken up for scrap metal in accordance with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. North Dakota survived until 1931, when she too was scrapped, under the terms of the 1930 London Naval Treaty.

List of United States Naval Academy alumni

The United States Naval Academy (USNA) is an undergraduate college in Annapolis, Maryland with the mission of educating and commissioning officers for the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Academy was founded in 1845 and graduated its first class in 1846. The Academy is often referred to as Annapolis, while sports media refer to the Academy as "Navy" and the students as "Midshipmen"; this usage is officially endorsed. During the latter half of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th, the United States Naval Academy was the primary source of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps officers, with the Class of 1881 being the first to provide officers to the Marine Corps. Graduates of the Academy are also given the option of entering the United States Army or United States Air Force. Most Midshipmen are admitted through the congressional appointment system. The curriculum emphasizes various fields of engineering.The list is drawn from graduates, non-graduate former Midshipmen, current Midshipmen, and faculty of the Naval Academy. Over 50 U.S. astronauts have graduated from the Naval Academy, more than from any other undergraduate institution. Over 990 noted scholars from a variety of academic fields are Academy graduates, including 45 Rhodes Scholars and 16 Marshall Scholars. Additional notable graduates include 1 President of the United States, 2 Nobel Prize recipients, and 73 Medal of Honor recipients.

South Carolina-class battleship

The South Carolina-class battleships, also known as the Michigan class, were built during the first decade of the twentieth century for the United States Navy. Named South Carolina and Michigan, they were the first American dreadnoughts—powerful warships whose capabilities far outstripped those of the world's older battleships.

In the opening years of the twentieth century, the prevailing theory of naval combat was that battles would continue to be fought at relatively close range using many small, fast-firing guns. As such, each of the ships in the United States' previous battleship class (the Connecticut class) had many medium-sized weapons alongside four large guns. This paradigm, however, was soon to be subverted, as American naval theorists proposed that a ship mounting a homogeneous battery of large guns would be more effective in battle.

As their ideas began to enjoy wider acceptance, the US Congress authorized the country's Navy to construct two small 16,000-long-ton (16,000 t) battleships. This displacement was roughly the same size as the Connecticut class and at least 2,000 long tons (2,000 t) smaller than the foreign standard. A solution was found in an ambitious design drawn up by Rear Admiral Washington L. Capps, the chief of the navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair; it traded heavy armament and relatively thick armor—both favored by naval theorists—for speed.

With their superfiring main armament, press accounts billed South Carolina and Michigan, alongside the British HMS Dreadnought, as heralding a new epoch in warship design. Both, however, were soon surpassed by ever-larger and stronger super-dreadnoughts. The class's low top speed of about 18.5 knots (21.3 mph; 34.3 km/h), as compared to the 21-knot (24 mph; 39 km/h) standard of later American battleships, relegated them to serving with older, obsolete battleships during the First World War. After the end of the conflict and the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty, both South Carolinas were scrapped.

USS Admiral W. L. Capps

USS Admiral W. L. Capps (AP-121), an Admiral W. S. Benson-class transport, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for Rear Admiral Washington L. Capps (1864–1935). Unusually, the first — USS Capps (DD-550) — served concurrently with the Admiral W. L. Capps. Via a transfer to the United States Army and then back to the Navy, the ship was renamed USNS General Hugh J. Gaffey (T-AP-121), making her the only ship to be named for Hugh Joseph Gaffey.

USS Capps

USS Capps (DD-550), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was a ship of the United States Navy named for Rear Admiral Washington L. Capps (1864–1935).

Capps was launched 31 May 1942 by Gulf Shipbuilding Corp., Chickasaw, Ala., sponsored by Mrs. C. G. Stokes; commissioned 23 June 1943, Lieutenant Commander B. E. S. Trippensee in command; and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.

USS Delaware (BB-28)

USS Delaware (BB-28) was a dreadnought battleship of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class. She was laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding in November 1907, launched in January 1909, and completed in April 1910. The sixth ship to be named for the First State, Delaware was armed with a main battery of ten 12-inch (305 mm) guns all on the centerline, making her the most powerful battleship in the world at the time of her construction. She was also the first battleship of the US Navy to be capable of steaming at full speed for 24 continuous hours without suffering a breakdown.

Delaware served in the Atlantic Fleet throughout her career. During World War I, she sailed to Great Britain to reinforce the British Grand Fleet, in the 6th Battle Squadron. She saw no action during the war, however, as both the British and Germans had abandoned direct confrontation with each other. After the end of the war, she returned to her peacetime duties of fleet maneuvers, midshipmen cruises, and good-will visits to foreign ports. Under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, Delaware was retained until the new battleship USS Colorado was completed in 1924, at which point she was broken up for scrap in accordance with the treaty.

USS North Dakota (BB-29)

USS North Dakota (BB-29) was a dreadnought battleship of the United States Navy, the second member of the Delaware class, her only sister ship being Delaware. North Dakota was laid down at the Fore River Shipyard in December 1907, was launched in November 1908, and commissioned into the US Navy in April 1910. She was armed with a main battery of ten 12-inch (305 mm) guns and was capable of a top speed of 21 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h). North Dakota was the first vessel of the US Navy to be named after the 39th state.

North Dakota had a peaceful career; she was present during the United States occupation of Veracruz in 1914, but did not see action. After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, North Dakota remained in the US, training crewmen for the rapidly expanding wartime Navy, and therefore did not see combat. She remained on active duty through the early 1920s, until she was decommissioned under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty in November 1923, and converted into a radio-controlled target ship. She served in that capacity until 1930, when she was replaced in that role by Utah. In 1931, she was sold for scrapping and thereafter dismantled.

United States Shipping Board

The United States Shipping Board (USSB) was established as an emergency agency by the Shipping Act (39 Stat. 729), September 7, 1916.

United States Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation

The Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) was established by the United States Shipping Board, sometimes referred to as the War Shipping Board, on 16 April 1917 pursuant to the Shipping Act (39 Stat. 729) to acquire, maintain, and operate merchant ships to meet national defense, foreign and domestic commerce during World War I. The EFC was renamed the U.S. Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation by act of Congress 11 February 1927 (44 Stat. 1083). The Board and Corporation were abolished 26 October 1936 and their functions transferred to the U.S. Maritime Commission by the Merchant Marine Act (49 Stat. 1985) of 29 June 1936.The Shipping Board had been established while the United States was at peace with intent to restore the nation's Merchant Marine. That changed with war. In the words of Edward N. Hurley, Chairman of the Board:

When the United States declared war against Germany the whole purpose and policy of the Shipping Board and the Fleet Corporation suffered a radical change overnight. From a body established to restore the American Merchant Marine to its old glory, the Shipping Board was transformed into a military agency to bridge the ocean with ships and to maintain the line of communication between America and Europe. Conceived as an instrumentality of peace, the Board became an instrumentality of war. Unlike other military agencies—the Army and Navy—it began with nothing—no ships, no officers, no crews, no organizations.

Ten days after the declaration of war the Emergency Fleet Corporation was established in response to those wartime requirements.

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