International Hydrofoil Society

Award Citation


William M. Ellsworth

(Last Update 1 Sep 00)


Mr. William M. Ellsworth has been associated with the development of hydrofoils, particularly military hydrofoils, since the early 1950s. His perseverance as well as his technical and managerial skills contributed greatly to the success of the US Navy’s hydrofoil program. During the 1960s he was responsible for undertaking the task of turning two marginal operating hydrofoils -- HIGH POINT (PCH-1) and PLAINVIEW (AGEH-1) -- into reliable test craft. The data collected and experience gained from these two craft formed the design basis of the US Navy’s PHMs. These missile-carrying hydrofoil patrol craft, the PHMs, became the most successful military hydrofoils that have been placed in service.

Mr. Ellsworth’s marine career began with the David Taylor Model Basin’s (DTMB's) Hydromechanics Laboratory. It was from this assignment in the early 1950s that he represented DTMB as a consultant to the Office of Naval Research which managed the U.S. Navy hydrofoil program. From 1958 to1964, Mr. Ellsworth worked with Cleveland Pneumatic Industries. He was general manager of its Systems Engineering Division and, in 1961, became a corporate Vice President. In 1964, Mr. Ellsworth returned to DTMB as the technical manager of the Hydrofoil Development Program Office. Recognizing the need for a more formal organization to test, evaluate and develop military hydrofoils, Mr. Ellsworth conceived the Hydrofoil Special Trials Unit (HYSTU) which was established at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington in 1966. With the establishment of HYSTU under William Ellsworth’s management, the HIGH POINT and PLAINVIEW were assigned to HYSTU. This establishment, along with the two hydrofoils, formed the basis for the technical and operational development of the US Navy’s hydrofoils.

Recognizing Mr. Ellsworth’s capabilities in developing advanced ship types, in 1971 he was made the head of the newly established Systems Development Department at the then named David Taylor Naval Ship Research and Development Center (DTNSRDC). At the same time he was appointed Associate Technical Director of DTNSRDC for systems development.

After a successful career at DTNSRDC, Mr. Ellsworth’s accomplishments were recognized by being awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, Presidential Meritorious Rank, and the David Taylor Award for Scientific Achievement. Also, he received an Honorary Life Membership in the American Society of Naval Engineers and was awarded the ASNE Gold Medal for 1973.

Although he retired from civil service in 1983, this by no means ended Mr. Ellsworth’s activities with hydrofoils and other advanced marine vehicles. His responsibility of editing the 1985 Naval Engineers Journal, "Modern Ships and Craft", authorship of the book "Twenty Foilborne Years," and the success of the 1992 High Performance Marine Vehicle Conference are examples of his recent accomplishments.

Mr. Ellsworth was a charter member of the North American Section of the International Hydrofoil Society. For many years he has been an active member of the Board of Directors of IHS after the leadership of the international organization was moved to the United States. Mr. William M. Ellsworth’s many accomplishments and his devotion to the development of hydrofoils are most deserving of special recognition by the International Hydrofoil Society.


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