Wat Tyler Cluverius was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 25, 1874, son of Wat T. and Martha Lewis (Manning) Cluverius. He attended public and private schools and Tulane University in New Orleans and entered the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from his native state on May 20, 1892. As a Naval Cadet he was a member of the “Luck Bag” Staff and the Hop Committee. He was graduated on June 5, 1896, and after the two years at sea, then required by law, was commissioned Ensign in the U.S. Navy. He advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral, to date from May 30, 1928, and was transferred to the Retired List in the rank on January 1, 1939. He died in New Haven, Connecticut, on October 29, 1952.
Upon graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1896, he was assigned to the USS Columbia, and a year later was transferred to the USS Maine, which was sunk in Havana Harbor on February 15, 1898. A survivor, he served during the Spanish- American War in various ships in Cuban waters, including the Scorpion, in which he participated in the West Indies Campaign, bombardments of Santiago, and engagements at Manzanello and Aqudores. As an Ensign on board the USS Solace in 1900, he took part in the Philippines Campaign, and later that year served as Watch and Division Officer in the USS Newport.
In August 1900 he returned to the Naval Academy, where he reported to the Judge Advocate for General Court Martial duty, and later served as a member of the General Court Martial, with additional duty in command of the torpedo boat Talbot. On June 21, 1901 he assumed command of the Alvarado, and in October of that year he was also given command of the Sandoval. He reported to the torpedo boat Stockton in May 1902, and in 1903-1904 had duty in the Engineering Department of the new battleship Maine, on the rank of Lieutenant. In October 1904 he served as Assistant to the Engineer Board in trails of the USS Colorado ad USS West Virginia, and in November reported for duty as Senior Engineer of the USS Arkansas.
He served as Senior Engineer of the USS Mississippi from her commissioning on October 25, 1908, until May 1909, when he was named a member of the Naval Examining Board, Special Service Squadron. In 1910 he served briefly as Navigator of the USS Massachusetts and later as Judge Advocate at the Court of Inquiry at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He attended the conference of officers at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island from May to August 1911, after which he served as Inspection Officers at the New York Yard until March 1914.
While serving as First Lieutenant of the USS North Dakota he had additional duty as President of the Court of Inquiry at the Navy Yard, New York, and on July 26, that year after participating in action at Vera Cruz in command of the North Dakota’s Battalion, he assumed the duties of Executive Officer. On July 30, 1915 he took command of the USS Dubuque, and later brief duty in that command was ordered to the Naval Academy where he was serving as an instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the outbreak of World War I in April 1917. He remained there until November 1917, then had charge of fitting out the USS Massachusetts, which, when recommissioned on November 23, became the USS Shawmut.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and cited “For exceptionally meritorious service in a duty responsibility as Commanding Officer of the USS Shawmut engaged in laying mines in the “North Sea” during World War I.
On February 4, 1919 he was transferred to command of the USS Baltimore, and in June of the same year he was detached for duty as Commandant of Midshipman at the Naval Academy. He remained there until June 1921, and during the next ten months completed the senior course at the Naval War College. He then went to the West Coast, via the Chaumont, to serve as Chief of Staff to Commander Fleet Base Force, Pacific Fleet, onboard the USS Connecticut, flagship. In June 1923 he assumed command of the USS Seattle, operating on the Pacific Coast, and on December 31 that year, reported for duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, D.C. During the last year of his tour of duty there, he was Aide to the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Curtis D. Wilbur, and had additional duty as Director of the Material Division.
He returned to sea in May 1926, as Commanding Officer of the USS West Virginia, and two years later, in the rank of Rear Admiral, he became Commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia. Designated Commander Battleship Division Two, Scouting Fleet, in June 1930, he reported in November of that year as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. In the fall of 1931 he had a special assignments as Commander of the U.S. Naval Escort for the French cruisers which participated in the ceremonies at the Yorktown, Virginia, Sesquicentennial Celebration.
He served as Commandant of the Ninth Naval District, Headquarters at Great Lakes, Illinois, from September 1932 to March 1935, during the last year of that period, also serving as the Navy’s Representative at the Century of Progress World’s Fair, at Chicago, Returning to sea, he commanded the Base Force, U.S. Fleet, his flag in the USS Argonne. In June 1937 he was ordered detached for duty as Commandant, Fourth Naval District, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, in which capacity he served until his retirement on January 1, 1939.
After his retirement, he was made President of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts and while so serving, was recalled to active duty during the World War II period to serve in the office of the Secretary of the Navy, Incentive Division. He also served as a member of the Navy Board for Production Awards, which granted Army-Navy Awards to industrial plants for excellence in the production of war materials. He died in New Haven, Connecticut, on October 29, 1952, enroute to his post as President, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, from a Navy Reunion in Philadelphia. He was the last surviving office of the battleship Maine, which was sunk in Havanan Bay in 1898.
In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal, Rear Admiral Cluverius had the following medals, awarded by foreign countries: Legion of Honor (rank of Officer ) from France; Order of Leopold Commander), from Norway. He also had the Spanish Campaign Medal; Sampson (West Indies) Medal; Philippine Campaign Medal; Mexican Service Medal; Victory Medal, Mine Layer Clasp; the American Service Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.