Hydrofoil Pioneers...

In Memory of John R. Meyer Jr.

by Mark Bebar, Bill White

(Last Update August 22, 2014)

John R. Meyer Jr.

DIED: April 11, 2014
LOCATION: Bethesda, Md.

Autobiography: ENGLISH

Memorial to John R. Meyer Jr. - IHS Past President


A native of Staten Island, New York, John attended public schools there and enrolled in Aeronautical Engineering at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute in 1941. After his sophomore year, he joined the U.S. Navy V-12 program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Subsequent to earning a bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering at RPI, he attended Cornell University and received a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve in March 1945. After serving as an aircraft maintenance officer, John returned to RPI in 1947 to earn an M.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering, followed by additional graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the same field.


Subsequently John held several research and development, long range planning, and engineering management positions with Boeing-Vertol, Trans-Sonics Inc., Air Force Cambridge Research Center, and the Aero-Elastic Laboratory at MIT. He served on the AIAA Marine Systems and Technologies Committee and the High Speed Vehicle Committee of the American Towing Tank Conference (ATTC) and was a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Society of Sigma Xi.


John joined the David Taylor Model Basin, now known as the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD) in 1971. He was involved with Advanced Naval Vehicles in the Advanced Concepts Office and was Manager of Hydrofoil Technology in the Hydrofoil Group (Code 115) of the Ship Systems Integration and Programs Departments. He served as the Center’s technical manager of the PHM program, participating in many activities including Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) on the Boeing contract, the Automated Surface Ship Information System-Technical (ASSIST), Hydrofoil Collision Avoidance and Tracking System (HYCATS), and various PHM sea trials. He was also project leader for an Innovation Center one-year study of a Semi-Submerged Surface Ship. During his 25 years at NSWCCD, John was closely associated with and a strong advocate for maintenance of the Advanced Ship Data Bank (ASDB), a unique collection of technical data and reports on all types of High Performance Marine Vehicles.


John authored numerous NSWCCD reports, as well as AIAA and ASNE papers on hydrofoils and hybrid marine vehicles. He also obtained a number of patents related to this technical area. Hybrid surface ships were under study at NSWCCD by John and his colleagues for about two decades during his employment there. Largely as a result of his sustained efforts over many years, the technology matured through analytical studies, feasibility designs, computer simulations and model tests. Investigations have been performed on hybrid ships ranging from 160 tons to about 4,000 tons. John also published a series of classified hybrid hydrofoil reports related to pressure signatures, sonar array installations characteristics, a Light Escort design, and multi-mission versions of the concept. In 1993-1996 a Hydrofoil Small Waterplane Area Ship (HYSWAS) demonstrator, named QUEST, was designed, built, and successfully tested under U.S. Navy/Maritime Applied Physics Corporation (MAPC) contract, with John as the COTR. After retiring from NSWCCD, John consulted for George G. Sharp, Inc., Advanced Marine Enterprises, Inc., DDL Omni Corp, and MAPC.


In his 21 years as President, John was the force behind the success of IHS. He ran a tight ship and ensured that the Society fulfilled the legal requirements of an organization of this type. With the help of those on the Board and other members, he managed all aspects of IHS business, organizing and efficiently running regular Board meetings and special meetings as required. He was an outstanding leader, with the ability to delegate specific tasks to those individuals best suited for the work that was necessary. Under his leadership, IHS forged strong relationships with other professional societies, including ASNE and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME). As a result, IHS has benefited greatly by having a presence at many ASNE conferences and holding regular joint meetings with SNAME Panel SD-5 on Advanced Marine Vehicles. John was diligent in consistently recognizing others in the high performance marine vehicle community for their contributions to the advancement of the technology.


As Newsletter Editor and major contributor for many years, he was the voice of the Society in increasing awareness of hydrofoil developments around the world. Through his many professional contacts, he gathered information on everything from hydrofoil sailboards to large hydrofoil assisted catamaran ferries. He was a driving force behind the IHS website and pushed for development and continuous improvement of the bulletin board, which provides a mechanism for real-time communication among IHS members. As a result of his strong desire to preserve the legacy of hydrofoil technology development, John encouraged the establishment of a permanent exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy at the Washington Navy Yard.

Clearly, development of hydrofoil, hybrid hydrofoil and advanced naval vehicle technology have benefited greatly from John Meyer’s unmatched technical expertise, tremendous energy, and dedication to the U.S. Navy and the Nation. He will be greatly missed. Let us all in the IHS recognize John’s legacy and offer prayer and support to his wife Gigi and sons Kurt and Craig.


As a Tribute, please download your own personal copy of John's last book that he personally donated to the IHS HYDROFOILWORD Museum: SHIPS THAT FLY.





1. Meyer, J.R., "Calm-Water Speed-Power of Hybrid Ship Concepts," David Taylor Naval Ship R&D Center, Report No. SDD 117-05, June 1975

2. Meyer, J.R., "Comparison of Bibrid Ship Concepts," David Taylor Naval Ship R&D Center, Report No. SDD 117-08, July 1975

3. Meyer, J.R., "Performance Estimates for a 2,000-Ton Hydrofoil Small Waterplane Area Ship (HYSWAS),"David Taylor Naval Ship R&D Center, Report No. SSD 117-10, July 1976

4. Meyer, J.R., and J.H. King, "2,000-Ton HYSWAS Concept Preliminary Study," David Taylor Naval Ship R&D Center, Report No. SDD 117-13, August 1976

5. Meyer, J.R., and J.H. King, "The Hydrofoil Small Waterplane Area Ship (HYSWAS)," AIAA/SNAME Third Advanced Marine Vehicles Conference, Paper No. 76-875, Arlington, VA, September 1976, 10-U08653

6. Meyer, J.R., "A Comparison of Several Hybrid Surface Ship Concepts," Naval Engineers Journal, pp. 183-190, April 1977, 10-U08894 M*

7. PCH-1 HIGH POINT Feasibility Investigation of Buoyancy/Fuel Tank Installation," Grumman Aerospace Corporation, Report No. MAR 298-818-1, January 1980, 10-U11778 M*

8. Grumman Aerospace Corp., "400 Ton Hydrofoil With Buoyancy/Fuel Tank Conceptual Investigation", Report No. MAR 298-821-1, 1980.

9. Meyer, J.R., "Extended Performance Hydrofoils," AIAA Sixth Marine Systems Conference, Paper No. 81-2067, Seattle, WA, September 1981, 10-U13272 M*

10. "HIGH POINT Extended Performance Hydrofoil Configuration Forward Foil Cavitation Analysis," The Boeing Company, Document No. D321-51327-1, September 1981, 10-U13283 M*

11. "Baseline Design Report of Extended Performance Hydrofoil Program PCH-1 Feasibility Demonstrator," Grumman Aerospace Corporation, Report No. MAR 1373-921-1, December 1980, Revised November 1981, 10-U12727

12. Meyer, J.R., "Extended Performance Hydrofoil Program," American Towing Tank Conference Abstract, 2 August 1983

13. Hermanns, E., R. Wright and J.R. Meyer, "U.S. Coast Guard Hybrid Concept," David W. Taylor Naval Ship R&D Center, Report No. DTNSRDC/SSID/DR/6 August 1984

14. Meyer, John R., "A Patrol Boat Hybrid Concept for the U.S. Coast Guard," Patrol Boat Symposium, ASNE, Arlington, VA, 13 March 1986

15. Kinports, K., and J.R. Meyer, "United States Coast Guard WPB Hybrid Concept Feasibility Design," DTNSRDC Report No. SSID/86/DR6, April 1986

16. Meyer, J.R., "HYBRID HYDROFOIL-A Concept Whose Time Has Come", Intersociety Advanced Marine Vehicles Conference, Paper No. 89-1450, Washington, DC, June 1989

17. Meyer, John R., and C. Shaw, "Hybrid Hydrofoil Multimission Deployable Vehicle Feasibility Study", Report DTRC/SD-90/13, September 1990

18. Meyer, John R., "Hybrid Hydrofoil Technology - An Overview", FAST-91, Proceedings from the First International Conference on Fast Sea Transportation", Trondheim, Norway, June 1991

19. Meyer, John R., "Hybrid Hydrofoil Technology Applications", Intersociety High Performance Marine Vehicle Conference and Exhibit, 24-27 June 1992, Arlington, VA

20. Bosworth, M., Scott Black, and John R. Meyer, "Well Deck Deployable Naval Combatants", High Performance Marine Vehicle Conference, Washington, D.C., June 1992.

21. Meyer, John R., and Oliver K. Colliou, “Hybrid Hydrofoil Patrol Craft Feasibility Study,” Carderock Division, NSWC, Report No. CDNSWC-SD-93/01, November 1992

22. Bertram, Volker, and J. R. Meyer, "Hybrid Hydrofoil Technology Applications", Fourth Pan American Congress of Applied Mechanics, PACAM IV, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 3-6 January 1995.

23. John R. Meyer, Jay DeVeny, and Daniel Jordan, “HYSWAS Concept Demonstrator”, International Hydrofoil Society 25th Anniversary Celebration and Conference, June 1995.

24. John R. Meyer, “Summary of the Techno-Superliner Project TSL-F”, International Hydrofoil Society 25th Anniversary Celebration and Conference, June 1995.

25. Meyer, John R., "Hybrid Ships: Variations on a Theme", Professional Notes, Naval Institute Proceedings, p73-79, August 1995.

26. Meyer, John R., F. Black and J. Young, “Hybrid Hydrofoil Small Combatant Conceptual Study,” Carderock Division, NSWC, Draft Report, June 1996.

27. Jeffrey Young, “Bigger Is Better - Hybrid Hydrofoil Trends”, NSWCCD SEAP Student Report, July 1996.


*DTRC Advanced Ship Data Bank Number



As a Tribute, please download your own personal copy of John's last book that he personally donated to the IHS HYDROFOILWORD Museum: SHIPS THAT FLY.

On the Occasion of the Service

In memory of our loving father

John Richard Meyer, Jr.

May 17, 2014



I am honored to be asked to speak today on behalf of Gigi and my siblings.  Any one of the four of us could easily stand here and reflect on our wonderful father.  Thinking back on our family life together I have tried to draw upon some memories and feelings we would all share.


A loving father and husband, Dad was first and foremost an engineer.  His outlook on life, his dependability, his caring attention to detail, his consummate reliability, even his daily routines all reflected this training and this perspective on the world.  From his sense of order came Dad’s devotion to others, his kindness and humility, his morality and ethics, his sense that, for life to work for all, each of us must give.  And Dad gave a lot.


Dad was a planner.  Whether taking his young children on camping trips (by boat or by backpack), picking out this year’s Christmas tree, building a summer cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee, presiding over the design of a modern home on Huckleberry Hill in Lincoln MA, working out the mechanics of an experimental tilt-wing aircraft, or determining the foil-borne drag coefficients of HYSWAS, Dad left little to chance.  After all, each of these undertakings simply required estimating a few variables and doing the requisite calculations.  Be it statistics, tensor calculus, fluid dynamics, or the rough-housing of his four young children, Dad new how to apply the right formula to resolve any problem.  As a husband and father, Dad was committed to a busy, productive family life, which was enjoyed by his wife and children through many years.


Dad was truly an intellectual.  Born in October, 1923, of staunchly European parents, Dad grew up in a traditional household where he was taught the value of self-reliance; where he learned that advancement was achieved through diligent study and hard work.  His childhood hobbies, involving model planes and electronics, presaged the professional directions he would take later in life.  A success in school, Dad qualified for training at Brooklyn Polytech on Staten Island and, as the first member of his family to go to college, later matriculated at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.  After his sophomore year, he joined the U.S. Navy V-12 program at RPI. Subsequent to earning a bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering, he attended Cornell University and received a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve in March 1945. After serving as an aircraft maintenance officer, Dad returned to RPI in 1947 to earn an M.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering, followed by additional graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the same field.


Dad’s work reflected enormous creativity, passion and drive.   His engineering skills and knowledge were held in high esteem by his colleagues, as reflected in the many committee memberships, published articles and patents he accomplished over the years.  His leadership of so many projects in ship design and advanced ship concepts made him a natural choice to serve as the president of the International Hydrofoil Society.


There, I am told, he ran a tight ship.  (a lot like the household I grew up in!)


Dad managed all aspects of IHS business.  Characteristic of his humility, Dad consistently recognized the accomplishments of others in the high performance marine vehicle community.  He pushed for the development of IHS web tools so that members could collaborate in real-time and in new ways, sharing ideas and research.  Steeped in the old-school values of traditional bookwork, Dad was remarkably quick and skilled in his embrace of the hardware and software of today’s electronic age.  This is an example of how much Dad was a constant learner.  He modeled how much it’s true that in order to lead one must be prepared, constantly, to learn.  There simply are no shortcuts.


If Dad was a great learner, he was a great teacher.  Knot-tying, pitching a tent, making a fire with one match in boy scouts, keeping a little 5HP outboard engine running at the Lake, learning to drive a car, even bible stories at Sunday school at the Swarthmore Presbyterian Church – yes he was my Sunday school teacher! – Dad seemed to have infinite knowledge, infinite skill and superhuman patience – to satisfy our curiosity about life and equip us kids to pass on these qualities to our own children.


Dad was generous with his skills but amazingly frugal with his money!  I’ll never forget as a kid what an unusual event – and what a thrill -- it was when our family went out to dinner.  My Goodness!  Just to a little pizza parlor across town – or maybe a Saturday morning of bowling.  These outings were a really big deal!


But Dad’s parsimony also had the effect of making us all inveterate do-it-yourself-ers.  If the house needed painting, Dad painted it.  If the ’61 Ford Fairlane station wagon wouldn’t start, Dad figured out why and got it going.  Building boats, cleaning pools, mowing lawns – we were brought up to believe this was all stuff one should be able to get done without picking up the telephone. And learned we did.


Dad’s self-reliance was matched by his patience.  Maybe he was too patient.  He never expressed regret – but he certainly did voice resignation – about how the HYSWAS concept was not met with greater enthusiasm by the Navy Top Brass.  Despite the fact that Quest, his remarkable proof-of-concept HYSWAS demonstrator, has been dismantled and no longer exists, I remain convinced – as I believe Dad quietly was – that the US Navy will someday include a fleet of hybrid small water-plane area ships!


Dad’s patience was accompanied by an uncommon degree of trust.  If you were working with him and you said you were going to get something done, he was confident you would do it – just as you would be confident of Dad’s follow-through on anything he committed to.  That’s the way engineers work.  But in a couple of business arrangements, his trust went too far – and the deals went south – but all because Dad never believed that people in his personal and professional spheres would be malevolent.


Dad exuded kindness and goodness, and he expected it – sometimes naively perhaps – in all others. 


Kindness and goodness -- two of many great lessons he taught us along with …..


         How patience and understanding win over coercion;

         Humility wins over hubris;

         To have a healthy respect for authority, but challenge traditional thinking;

         Have the strength of self-reliance but don’t be surprised by the talents of others;

         Persevere until a job is done thoroughly and correctly;

         Honor all family members: parents, siblings, children, nieces and nephews.


When we lost Dad the world lost a whole lot of goodness, so we’re all going to have to look each other in the eye, extend ourselves, and pull together to make up for that loss.


We should be able to engineer that!


 Kurt R. Meyer

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