The Navy Department Library
Navy Department Library Half-hull Model #3
Sloop-of-War. "Designed by Rear Admiral T.O. Selfridge, U.S.N., April 1873." Designer's half hull model, scale 1:48. Design by Thomas O. Selfridge, Sr., modified by constructor Francis Grice. Model by Thomas O. Selfridge, Sr. Department of the Navy Model Catalog #1977.
Thomas O. Selfridge, Sr. (1804 - 1902) designed this unnamed sloop-of-war which was never built. Despite the Navy's so-called "Dark Ages" underway in 1873, Selfridge perhaps hoped that this small and economical 185-foot warship would be built to replace some of the aged Civil War era ships comprising the U.S. fleet. This model, executed when he was commandant of the Mare Island Naval Ship Yard, represents one of several proposals for sloops promoted by the admiral during the 1860s and 70s. Physically disabled during the Mexican War, Selfridge was a self-taught naval architect. His design formula was patterned after a French preference that the fore and aft underwater bodies of ships occupy equal displacement. The French formula was not favored by Chief Constructor John Lenthall (1807 - 1892.) Lenthall explained to Selfridge the technical reasons why he did not support his design formula. Nevertheless, Selfridge was convinced that the Bureau of Construction and Repair was hide-bound, that it conspired against him, and that it flatly rejected his designs for personal reasons. There is no record of any Selfridge-designed ship actually built anywhere in the world.
The Office of the Curator of Ship Models, Naval Surface Warfare Center in Carderock, MD has a collection of fourteen Selfridge half models, related manuscript drawings, and letters.
Models #5 and 8 are also Selfridge designs.
Cogar, William B. Dictionary of Admirals of the U.S. Navy, vol. 1. Annapolis MD: Naval Institute,1989.
Selfridge, Thomas O., Jr. Memoirs of Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr. New York: Putnam's,1924.