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The Naval Consulting Board, also known as the Naval Advisory Board (a name used in the 1880s for two previous committees),[1] was a US Navy organization established in 1915 by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. Daniels created the Board during World War I, but two years before the U.S. entered the war, to provide "machinery and facilities for utilizing the natural inventive genius of Americans to meet the new conditions of warfare.[2] Daniels was worried that the U.S. was unprepared for the new conditions of warfare and needed new technology.[3]

Daniels asked Thomas Edison to be president of the Board but, because of his deafness, William Saunders was elected Chairman.[citation needed][Clarification needed] There were 24 members, including Elmer Sperry, Peter Hewitt, Hudson Maxim, Matthew Bacon Sellers II, Howard E. Coffin, Andrew J. Riker, Thomas Robbins, W.R. Whitney, L.H. Baekelan, Frank Julian Sprague, Benjamin G. Lamme, Robert Simpson Woodward, Arthur Gordan Webster, Andrew Murray Hunt, Alfred Craven, William Lawrence Saunders, Benjamin Bowditch Thayer, Joseph William Richards, Lawrence Addicks, William Le Roy Emmet, Spencer Miller, and Henry Alexander Wise Wood.[4] Later, the physicists Arthur Compton and Robert Andrews Millikan joined the Board, as well as Lee De Forest, inventor of the radio tube.

Initially the Board had no legal status, budget or staff, and its mission was unclear. Not until August 1916 did the US Congress appropriate $25000 for its operation.

The initial publicity surrounding its creation resulted in a flood of suggestions about how to improve the US Navy's ships, totalling 110,000 during the war. The Board's members decided that they could be most effective if they divided into technical committees to utilise their specialist expertise, including the Committee on Aeronautics and Aeronautical Motors. They provided consultants and arranged for research to be carried out in established civilian laboratories. During World War I, the board was responsible for approving camouflage schemes for civilian ships, including one invented by William MacKay. One of the most significant committees was that on Industrial Preparedness, which drew up an inventory of manufacturing capacity and sought to develop common manufacturing standards.

On 10 February 1917 the Board established a Special Problems Committee with a Subcommittee on Submarine Detection by Sound. This led to the collaboration of the Submarine Signalling Company, the General Electric Co and Western Electric Co in experiments on the problem. An experimental station was established at Nahant, Massachusetts.[5]

On May 11, 1917 the Secretary of the Navy created a Special Board on Antisubmarine Detection "for the purpose of procuring either through original research, experiment and manufacture, or through development of ideas and devices submitted by inventors at large, suitable apparatus for both offensive and defensive operations against submarines". Dr. Millikan of the United States National Research Council, Dr. Whitney of the General Electric Co., Dr. Jewett of the Western Electric Co., and Mr. Fay of the Submarine Signal Co. were appointed as advisory members.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "On This Day: June 20, 1885". The New York Times Company and HarpWeek. 2001. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/harp/0620.html. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  2. Pearson, Lee, Developing the Flying Bomb, Naval Air Systems Command
  3. L. N. Scott, Naval Consulting Board of the United States (Washington, 1920), 286
  4. Information Annual, 1915, A Continuous Cyclopedia and Digest of Current Events, R.R. Bowker Company (New York ,1916), 615
  5. The Submarine Signalling Company, H J Fay, November 1944

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