William Francis Gibbs


1886 – 1967


Who was William Francis Gibbs?


William Francis Gibbs was a renowned naval architect of the mid twentieth century. Though he began his career as an attorney, after World War I, he became recognized as a skilled project manager in the restoration of a former German ocean liner for US use. In 1922, in partnership with his brother Frederic Herbert Gibbs, he began the firm which would eventually become Gibbs & Cox; they were among the major designers of World War II era warships and cargo vessels, including the liberty ships and Fletcher-class destroyers. Gibbs was a pioneer in the areas of efficient hull design and propulsion, along with being an staunch advocate for high standards of fire prevention and hull integrity. Although the liberty ships were designed with a priority of production simplicity and economy, other Gibbs designs tended to be sturdy, light, fast, safe, and enduring.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s the Gibbs brothers were among the promoters leading the United States government and military to subsidize the cost of building the ultimate ocean liner. In the end Gibbs and Cox was awarded the contract to design and supervise the building of the SS United States. While in the class of the largest liners, it was much lighter and considerably faster than contemporary vessels. It was built with a high emphasis on safety, using a minimum of flammable materials.

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Aug 24, 1886
  • United States of America
  • Harvard University
  • Columbia Law School
Lived in
  • Philadelphia
Sep 6, 1967
New York City

on July 23, 2013


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