Washington Irving Chambers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Washington Irving Chambers
Washington Irving Chambers.jpg
Captain Washington Irving Chambers
Born1856 (1856)
Kingsport, New York
Died1934 (aged 77–78)
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1876-1913[1]

Captain Washington Irving Chambers, USN (1856–1934) was a United States Navy officer who played a major role in the early development of naval aviation, serving as the first officer to have oversight of the Navy's aviation program.

Chambers was born in Kingsport, New York in 1856 and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1876. He served in various sea and shore billets from that time onwards, including on the celebrated Greely Relief Expedition under Winfield Scott Schley. In 1907-09, he was Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. Later on, he was placed in charge of the development of aviation in the Bureau of Navigation. Among his other accomplishments, Captain Chambers arranged for the first take-off and landing of an airplane on a ship, in collaboration with pioneer aviator Eugene Ely, pioneered work on torpedoes, and submitted one of the first American designs for an all-big-gun battleship.

Chambers Field in Norfolk, Virginia, dedicated in June 1938, was named in his honor, as is the dry cargo ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE-11).

Many of his papers are held by the U.S. Library of Congress.


  • On December 2, 2008, Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter announced that the eleventh ship of the Lewis and Clark class of dry-cargo-ammunition vessels (T-AKE 11) would be named for Captain Chambers.
  • On September 11, 2010 the USNS Washington Chambers was christened and launched. The ship's sponsor was Mrs. Loretta Penn. The Washington Chambers will be commanded by Captain Mike Flanagan.
Penn says I christen thee Washington Chambers.jpg


  • Stein, Stephen K. From Torpedoes to Aviation: Washington Irving Chambers & Technological Innovation in the New Navy 1876 to 1913 (University of Alabama Press, 2007)
  • Grossnick, Roy A. et al. United States Naval Aviation 1910-1995. Washington, D.C: Naval Historical Center, Dept. of the Navy, 4th edition [1997?]
  • Stein, Stephen. Washington Irving Chambers: Innovation, Professionalization, and the New Navy, 1872-1913, Ph.d. diss: Ohio State University, 1999.
  • [1], Washington Irving Chambers section
  1. ^ "Chambers History". Chambers History. William D. Chambers. Retrieved 13 October 2011.

External links[edit]