Cramp, Charles Henry
CRAMP, CHARLES HENRY (1828- ), American shipbuilder, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the 9th of May 1828, of German descent, his family name having been Krampf. He was the eldest of eleven children of William Cramp (1807-1869), a pioneer American shipbuilder, who in 1830 established shipyards on the Delaware river near Philadelphia. The son was educated at the Philadelphia Central high school, after which he was employed in his father's shipyards and made himself master of every detail of ship construction. He showed especial aptitude as a naval architect and designer, and after becoming his father's partner in 1849 it was to that branch of the work that he devoted himself. His inventive capacity and resourcefulness, together with the complete success of his innovations in naval construction, soon gave him high rank as an authority on shipbuilding, and made his influence in that industry widely felt. In the Mexican War he designed surf boats for the landing of troops at Vera Cruz; during the Civil War he designed and built several ironclads for the United States navy, notably the "New Ironsides" in 1862, and the light-draught monitors used in the Carolina sounds; and after 1887 constructed wholly or in part from his own designs many of the most powerful ships in the "new" navy, including the cruisers "Columbia," "Minneapolis" and "Brooklyn," and the battleships "Indiana," "Iowa," "Massachusetts," "Alabama" and "Maine." In every progressive step in ocean shipbuilding, in the transformation from sail to steam, and from wood to iron and steel, Cramp had a prominent part. His fame as a shipbuilder extended to Europe, and he built warships for several foreign navies, among others the "Retvizan" and the "Variag" for the Russian government. He also constructed a number of freight and passenger steamships for several trans-Atlantic lines.
See A. C. Buel, Memoirs of C. H. Cramp (Philadelphia, 1906).