Title Year Month Event Date RN
William Francis Gibbs 1886 August Born Tuesday, August 24, 1886 in Philadelphia. 8/24/1886 1
Drawings 1893
By 1893, at age 7, WFG is drawing sketches of ships.
Tour of Europe 1898
While on a tour in Europe, Gibbs visits the reading room in a Switzerland hotel. There he finds the British magazine “Engineering” and reads a technical article on ship building. Upon traveling to England, he buys all the issues he can find that include articles on ships. Gibbs is 12 years old.
Gibbs on the Great Liners 1901
William Francis and his brother Frederic travel on the largest transatlantic liner of the time: Oceanic, White Star Line. Gibbs’ crossings included travel on board Celtic, the Lusitania and Mauretania.
Early Education 1905
Gibbs graduates from the DeLancy School in Philadelphia.
Harvard 1906
WFG enters Harvard. Gibbs attended courses, mostly scientific, rather than a formal curriculum focused on a degree. He will leave Harvard without a degree.
Gibbs the Passenger 1907
The liner Mauretania makes her maiden voyage - on board, is William Francis Gibbs.
No Money, Get A Job 1907
In New York, spooked investors make a run on the banks, in what came to be known as the Panic of 1907. The Gibbs family fortune is lost. In his later years, William Francis Gibbs would credit this event as a lucky break, for it forced him to get a job.
Super Liners Concept 1908
Now in his 20s, Gibbs has studied, traveled on and researched many great liners. His vision now is to build a pair of giants - 1000 feet long and capable of 30 knots - five knots better than the record holder Mauretania.
Skipper Born 1910 June Leroy J. Alexanderson, destined to become a 14 year resident of the Big U and the ship’s master, is born. 6/10/1910 10
Gibbs enters Columbia 1911
Gibbs attends law school. 1911 - 1913. Gibbs receives Bachelor of Law degree in 1913. At the same time, he completed graduate work received his Master of the Arts in Economics.
Titanic 1912 April Titanic slips below the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. Lives lost: 1523. At the time, William Francis Gibbs is 26 years old, attending Columbia Law School. 4/15/1912 12
In The Law Office 1913
Gibbs goes to work for William Osgood Morgan in New York. On weekends he leaves NY and travel to the family home in Haverford, PA and works with his brother Frederic to further research and plan his high-speed transatlantic passenger liners.
Vaterland in New York Harbor 1914
Just into her maiden season, the new German ship Vaterland arrives in New York. Due to increased hostilities (war) the ship is ‘unofficially held’ - and will be kept in New York Harbor. With the US entry into WWI, the Vaterland is seized - after three years in port - and converted into a troopship, being renamed Leviathan.
The Big Ship Begins 1914
1914 - Gibbs cites 1914 as the first year he undertook design of a premier American ship in his commentary published in the SS UNITED STATES Christening Issue of the Gibbs & Cox newsletter Compass Points.
Empress of Ireland 1914 May The passenger liner Empress of Ireland is rammed by the Norwegian collier Storstad. The coal ship is fully loaded and strikes the Empress cutting into her starboard at midship - penetrating her engine room. It is five minutes shy of 2 a.m. with most passengers and crew sleeping. In less than 15 minutes, the ship, with 1477 on board sinks. 1012 lives lost. Failures for a 28 year old ship designer to study: one engine room, one source of power. The engine room, flooded almost instantly, leaves the ship powerless with no power to automatically operate watertight doors and seal watertight compartments. Even though the ship was near the shore, she could not be beached - as there was no power to move the ship. 5/29/1914 16
Ship & Train Express 1915
WFG and his brother take their designs to Ralph Peters, head of the Long Island Rail Road. Gibbs & Gibbs present their super liner concept to Peters who has plans to build a rail line from Montauk Point (eastern Long Island) as a fast shuttle from that new port into New York City by rail. Peter’s rail connection would save passengers up to 10 hours on their transatlantic crossing. And a Gibbs super liner would shave even more time off the crossing, Peters agrees.
Torpedo Sinks Lusitania and Future Ships 1915 May Lusitania is struck by a German U-boat torpedo and sinks. Loss of Life: 1,201. Transatlantic passenger routes are threatened, and Gibbs’ efforts to build a super passenger liner are put on hold. The IMM focus along with Gibbs' attention goes to Navy vessel design. 5/7/1915 18
Full Speed Ahead 1915 May Gibbs leaves law to devote himself to ship design.
Plans Presented to Line 1916 June William and Frederic present their super liner plans to Mr.Franklin, president of International Mercantile Marine Company.
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