International Hydrofoil Society

Award Citation

CAPT John W. King, Jr. USN (Ret.)

(Last Update 1 Sep 00)

The International Hydrofoil Society honors, posthumously, Captain John Warburton King, Jr., USN (Ret), for his outstanding contributions to the introduction of U.S. Navy hydrofoil combatant ships. He played a pivotal role in bringing about the development, design, and construction of Patrol Hydrofoil Missile (PHM) ships. This was the first class of ships designed in a NATO partnership among the United States, Italy, and the Federal Republic of Germany. The US lead ship of the Class was USS PEGASUS (PHM-1) which was followed by five more PHMs to form a Squadron based in Key West, Florida. These 235 metric ton ships which carried eight missiles and a rapid-fire 76 mm gun, were capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots in very rough seas. They performed brilliantly in a variety of roles including operation with the US Coast Guard in many successful drug traffic interdictions. Captain King is also honored for his long active leadership and support of the International Hydrofoil Society.

John King was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of a distinguished career naval officer. He had a varied education at the University of California at Berkeley, Rice Institute, and George Washington University, and was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Post Graduate School. He served as a Navy Surface Warfare Officer during World War II, and was decorated for staff service during the Korean War and as Commanding Officer of a destroyer in the Vietnam War. He served several tours in the Pentagon, notably in the area of research and development of electronics and the advanced design of high speed ships. In the latter area he was the program developer and later coordinator for all aspects of hydrofoil development. In international projects, he was the US Representative to the NATO Exploratory Group and Chairman of the Hydrofoil Working Group that brought to fruition the cooperative hydrofoil design project with Italy and the Federal Republic of Germany.

Captain King combined a lifetime of technical expertise and operational experience to lead the successful transition from experimental hydrofoil ships to US Navy hydrofoil combatants. He skillfully orchestrated the NATO design of the PHM until over 90% commonality was achieved with subsystems from the participating countries. His thoughtful and persuasive presentations to NATO and US decision makers led to both military and commercial exploitation of hydrofoil ship technology in spite of the many technical, operational, and political obstacles.

John King was not only a leader, but a tireless worker for the IHS, serving as a Charter Member of the North American Chapter, a Director and Secretary-Treasurer of the Chapter, and later after transfer of headquarters to Washington, DC, as long time Secretary-Treasurer of the Society. For his many contributions to development of hydrofoil ships and his unswerving support of the IHS, the Society is pleased to pay him honor as a true Hydrofoil Pioneer.

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