Frank E. Kirby

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Frank E. Kirby (July 1, 1849-August 25, 1929)[1] was a naval architect in the Detroit, Michigan (USA) area in the early 20th century. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest naval architects in Great Lakes history.

On June 2, 1900, during the testimony of Mr. Gardiner C. Sims, Superintending Engineer, Army Transport Service, New York City, for the House Inquiry into the Transport Service between San Francisco and the Philippine Islands, the question was asked ...

Q. Who is Mr. Kirby, and why should you have had any talk with him about the ship?—A. He is a successful marine engineer of national reputation. He prepared plans and specifications for the refitting of the Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Logan, and Thomas, and his precedents I am following as carefully as possible. He is at present engaged in the practice of his profession on the lakes, and he is consulting engineer, you might call it, of the transport branch of the Quartermaster's Department. [2]

As the questioning continued, it was asked ...

Q. Does Mr. Kirby still continue to act as consulting engineer in regard to refitting of the transports?—A. Yes, sir; he did on the plans for refitting the Kilpatrick and Buford, but since I have been here he has never been connected directly with the department.

Q. How is that arrived at?—A. Through the office of the Quartermaster-General. Colonel Bird (Charles F. Bird, Quartermaster in Charge of Ocean Transportation, San Francisco, California) stated he desired to have Mr. Kirby go over the plans where repairs are very large. [3]

And two days later, during his testimony, Col. F. B. Jones, General Superintendent, Army Transport Service, New York City, said ...

To refer again to the refitting of transports. The Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and Relief were refitted before my connection with the service. The Thomas and Logan were started soon afterwards, and I think the suggestion came from the Quartermaster-General's Office that we would employ Mr. Kirby, an expert marine architect, a man who is consulted by many shipowners and ship associations as an authority on ship construction. I was, of course, more than glad to have him assigned to that work and knew that the proper thing had been done in order that the best results might be obtained. [4]

Kirby mostly specialized in paddle-wheel and steamship design. Perhaps his most famous vessel, SS Tashmoo, was a paddle-wheeler launched on New Year's Eve, 1899. She was constructed by the Detroit Shipbuilding Company in Wyandotte, Mich., for the White Star Steamship Co. of Detroit. The 306-foot vessel made her maiden voyage on June 9, 1900. She would become one of the best known - and most beloved - excursion steamers on the Great Lakes.

Kirby also is well-renowned for his design of the "Boblo boats" - the SS Columbia and the SS Ste. Claire. Boblo Island was a major amusement park destination for residents of southeast Michigan (and southern Ontario, Canada) throughout most of the twentieth century. In some circles, he is also considered the father of modern ice-breaking technology. He designed the D&C Navigation Co.’s armada of stately night boats, including the City of Detroit III.

Kirby designs[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bob-Lo Boats/Frank E. Kirby". Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  2. ^ Letter From The Secretary Of War, transmitting, with accompanying documents, A Response To The Inquiry Of The House in relation to the Transport Service between San Francisco and the Philippine Islands. April 8,1902. Referred to the Committee on Military Affairs. (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 1902. p. 140. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  3. ^ Letter From The Secretary Of War, transmitting, with accompanying documents, A Response To The Inquiry Of The House in relation to the Transport Service between San Francisco and the Philippine Islands. April 8,1902. Referred to the Committee on Military Affairs. (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 1902. p. 142. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 
  4. ^ Letter From The Secretary Of War, transmitting, with accompanying documents, A Response To The Inquiry Of The House in relation to the Transport Service between San Francisco and the Philippine Islands. April 8,1902. Referred to the Committee on Military Affairs. (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 1902. p. 149. Retrieved 2014-11-28. 

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