Lewis Nixon- The Architect Of SONAR Technology

Lewis Nixon was born on April 7 – 1861, in Leesburg, Virginia. In his profession, he was involved in multiple sectors as a pioneer. He was a maritime engineer, shipbuilder, community worker, and political person. He planned the United States’ first warships and coordinated the USA’s first submarines project. One of the most significant achievements is – he done everything before reaching his 40th birthday celebration.

Lewis Nixon - Sonar technology

Besides being a naval engineer and shipbuilding pioneer, he was also represented as the head of Tammany Hall. He began to run seven significant American shipyards under a joint possession as the United States Shipbuilding Company. He was the chief of the New York City commission constructing the Williamsburg Bridge.

Some Internet and digital sources acknowledge shipbuilder Lewis Nixon for designing solar devices in 1906. Basically, it is an underwater listening gadget for distinguishing icebergs. However, there is no official record of his work in Hackmann’s chronicled record of SONAR.

The utilization of sound to ‘echo find’ underwater objects comes from the bats.  Bats and a few creatures have utilized sound for correspondence and item identification for many years. Leonardo Da Vinci first introduced the concept in 1490. Cylinder embeds into the water were supposed to recognize vessels by setting ear to the tube. In the nineteenth century, the submerged chime was utilized as subordinate to give warning of perils.

Sonar Technology

However, the utilization of sound for naval navigation became crucial after the sink of the Titanic in 1912. It is mentioned that the world’s first Patent for an underwater reverberation ranging gadget was recorded at the British Patent Office by English meteorologist Lewis Richardson. He invented it one month later after the sinking of the Great Titanic. Along with him, German physicist Alexander Behm acquired a Patent for a reverberation sounder in 1913.

Canadian Reginald Fessenden constructed an exploratory framework in 1914. It could distinguish a chunk of ice at a two-mile range. However, it couldn’t state the direction of the icebergs. Ten Montreal-fabricate British H Class submarines dispatched in 1915 were outfitted with Fessenden transducer. They were used in World War I with the need to distinguish submarines and other objects.

Yet, there is no official prove with Leis Nixon to sonar technology; he influenced the development of modern-day United States Naval power.

Nixon was conceived just before the American Civil War, in Leesburg, Virginia. His father was Colonel Joel Lewis Nixon, and his mother was Mary Jane Turner. Leesburg, just three miles into the Confederacy, changed hands a few times throughout the War. His sibling George H. Nixon battled in the Virginia Cavalry as an individual from “Mosby’s Raiders.”

Nixon graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1882. He got first class and was later sent to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, for higher studies in maritime design, in 1885. There, he again stood first in his class.

After returning to the United States, he joined the John Roach and Sons shipyard in Chester, Pennsylvania. At that time, the shipyard was under the United States Navy to securely complete three cruisers for naval force. They were: USS Atlanta, USS Boston, and USS Chicago.

In 1890, with assistance from maritime constructor David W. Taylor, Lewis planned the three Indiana-class warships – USS Indiana, USS Massachusetts, and USS Oregon. He also procured a Doctor of Science certificate from Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

After completing all the contracts for the war vessels, he left the Navy and joined as Superintendent for William Cramp and Sons Shipbuilding Company. At that time, the shipyard holds some leading shipbuilding contracts.

Nixon established his own business in January 1895 by renting the Crescent Shipyard in New Jersey. He began this business with Ex William Cramp and Sons’ shipbuilder and maritime modeler, Arthur Leopold Busch. Under Nixon and Busch partnership, the yard assembled numerous vessels, including torpedo boats USS Nicholson (TB-29) and USS O’Brien (TB-30)], cruiser USS Chattanooga (CL-18), screen USS Florida (BM-9), and gunboat USS Annapolis (PG-10).

In December 1896, the Crescent Shipyard, under Nixon’s supervision, manufactured the USA’s first submarines. The USS Holland (SS-1) was one of the manifestations of that shipyard and is portrayed as a significant accomplishment in the USA’s maritime innovation.

The success in building submarines brought some orders for additional submarines by the United States Navy. Those subs, known as the Plunger-class submarines, were constructed at the Crescent Shipyard and the Union Iron Works. It is a shipbuilding firm situated close to Mare Island Naval Shipyard. These submarines turned into America’s first armada of submerged battling vessels and were worked by the United States Navy on the border coasts.

These submarines likewise brought another organization, established by John Philip Holland, on February 7, 1899. His organization was then known as the Holland Torpedo Boat Company. After 1904, the company was renamed and known as the Electric Boat Company.

Besides owning a shipyard, Nixon additionally founded the International Smokeless Powder and Dynamite Company of Parlin, New Jersey, and the Standard Motor Construction Company of Jersey City, New Jersey. Later, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company procured the smokeless powder organization from Nixon in 1904.

Nixon was the chief of the United States Long Distance Automobile Company. From 1901 to 1903, the company, in its Jersey City plant, produced fuel-controlled vehicles to meet the clients’ prerequisites, quality, economy, and durability.

In January 1904, the organization was renamed after the Standard Motor Construction Company. At that time, the automobile company brought a bigger vehicle in the market known as “Standard” in 1905.

Later, Lewis Nixon sold out automobile departments’ production lines to Hewitt Motor Co. of New York City. Nixon still kept on holding the position of Standard Motor Construction’s chief for the next decade. Under his supervision, the company becomes a significant producer of marine engines.

In 1902, advertiser John W. Youthful convinced Nixon to direct the combination of Crescent Shipyard with six different shipyards on the East and West Coasts, to shape a solitary shipbuilding trust, under the name United States Shipbuilding Company. As the company’s leader, Nixon persuaded Charles M. Schwab, President of U.S. Steel Corporation and Bethlehem Steel proprietor, to invest in the new business. Unfortunately, the terms that Nixon and Schwab had haggled for Schwab’s financing had some lacking. The deal was entirely in favor of Schwab. And the result was devastating; it harmed the business notorieties of both Nixon and Schwab. Within a time of its fuse, the organization’s mortgage holders constrained it into receivership. And, sadly, it rose up out of receivership, without Nixon. By that point, Nixon had returned the shipbuilding business by renting a yard in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

From the year 1904 to January 1906, Nixon was in Russia, regulating the development of ten torpedo boats for the naval force of Czar Nicholas II.

Nixon’s shipbuilding mastery was approached more significantly after the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

In 1910 the Swiss-conceived American craftsman Adolfo Müller-Ury made a three-quarter length situated picture of Nixon that was displayed at Knoedler’s exhibition.

From 1915 until his demise, Nixon was the chief of the Nixon Nitration Works. He left his last breath on September 23, 1940, at Monmouth Memorial Hospital in Long Branch, New Jersey. His work still makes him remembering maritime technology.


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