Captain Jose María Blanco, Spanish Navy (Retired)
Garcia Álvarez de Toledo y Osorio reached the rank of Captain General of the Sea under Phillip II (1527–98), after a long and successful naval career. He was the first naval strategist to adopt the theory of the decisive battle. His advice to Don Juan de Austria became the basis for the battle plan for the encounter with the Ottoman fleet at the 1571 Battle of Lepanto.
Christopher R. Perry, Command Historian, Royal Canadian Navy
Captain J. D. “Chummy” Prentice was the Royal Canadian Navy’s World War II submarine-hunting trailblazer, credited with sinking four U-boats. Many more were sunk using tactics he created. Prentice invented antisubmarine warfare doctrine for Canada’s corvettes and destroyers.
Commander Simon Kelly, Royal Australian Navy
Irish-Australian inventor Louis Brennan, whose 1877 design for a mechanically powered and guided torpedo revolutionized coastal defense across Commonwealth ports around the world. The torpedo is often described as the world’s first practical guided missile.
Royal Netherlands Navy
Commander First Class Jan Jacob Wichers and Admiral Johannes Cornelis van Pappelendam. In the years before World War II, when they were lieutenants, they invented a snorkle for diesel-electric submersible boats to stay underwater when charging their batteries while venting their exhaust gasses. This turned the diving boat into a submarine, which could use diesel engines to charge its batteries and stay hidden from the enemy.
The Portuguese Navy
On 30 March 1922, Admiral Gago Coutinho and Commander Sacadura Cabral began the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic, arriving by seaplane in Rio de Janeiro on 17 June. They used the artificial horizon sextant developed by Admiral Coutinho, which allowed the measurement of the height of stars, regardless of the horizon, and included the course corrector, which compensated for the deviation caused by the wind.
Portuguese Navy Admiral Gago Coutinho and Commander Sacadura Cabra (Elias)
Lieutenant Commander Sankey L. Blanton, U.S. Navy Reserve (Retired)
Sub-Lieutenant Raffaele Paolucci, Italian Navy, sank an Austrian battleship in its defended harbor in November 1918 and started the “frogman” tradition, which was copied by the British in World War II and, later, by the U.S. Navy underwater demolition teams, the predecessor of the SEALs.
Midshipman First Class Andrew Song, NROTC Yale University
Korean Admiral Yi Sun-Shin (1545–98) revolutionized naval warfare by using unique tidal patterns, whirlpools, and strait geography as force multipliers to win battles against a numerically superior Japanese Navy during the Imjin War. His innovation in mobile “turtle ships” demonstrated the importance of maneuverability and strong armor.
Rear Admiral Marc du Boucheron, French Navy (Retired)
Admirals Waldemar Feldes (Germany), Hans Spaans (Netherlands) and Rodney Rempt (United States). These admirals stood at the forefront of international cooperation in the area of integrated air and missile defense, by signing the “Arrangement on the Maritime Theater Missile Defense Cooperation Forum” on 29 April 1999. The MTMD Forum has expanded to a highly successful group of 12 like-minded navies pursuing continual innovation and interoperability in maritime missile defense.
Commander Luis Perales, Spanish Navy
Spanish Navy Lieutenant Isaac Peral invented the first electrically powered submarine. In 1888, he built a new submersible boat fitted with electric engines, periscope, air-purifying devices, and torpedoes. Peral invented most of the equipment himself and used it in future developments.
Lieutenant Kyle Cregge, U.S. Navy
While not explicitly a maritime professional, 19th-century French artillery officer Henri-Joseph Paixhans invented the first shell guns, later known as “canon-obusiers” in the French Navy. The weapon, later improved by American John Dahlgren, triggered the end of wooden ships, spurred iron-hull shipbuilding, and led in part to the French “Jeune Ecole” strategic naval concept that sought to challenge British sea power.
Captain Jan Maarten van Tol, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Dutch Admiral Maarten Tromp, first to employ “line of battle” tactics in a major fleet action, decisively defeating a Spanish fleet in the “Battle of the Downs” in October 1639 to establish control of the English Channel. Such tactics would dominate naval warfare through the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
Austro-Hungarian Navy Captain Giovanni Luppis conceptualized the Whitehead torpedo in Fiume (today Rijeka, Croatia). This innovation converted the stationary mine of Civil War vintage into the embryonic self-propelled weapon known today.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Paul H. Sayles, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Royal Navy Admiral Sir Percy Scott (1853–1924). Scott pioneered state-of-the-art fire-control systems for the Royal Navy and established gun crew training to increase professional competence. He was a proponent of submarines and worked to develop new naval weapons in World War I.
Captain Ray Brown, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)
Sir Charles Rodger Winn, a British judge and Royal Navy intelligence officer, led the Admiralty’s U-boat tracking room in World War II. He developed and executed the concept that submarine movement could be predicted. This success was then surpassed by the partnered U.S. Navy 10th Fleet and further developed during the Cold War and for U.S. Coast Guard counternarcotics operations.
Lieutenant Commander Scott A. Wallace, U.S. Navy
The Scottish doctor James Lind revolutionized medical care at sea with his discovery that citrus fruits prevented scurvy. His discovery enabled long-distance voyages, as until that time scurvy might lay low up to 20 percent of a crew. To this day, medical innovations continue to keep sailors in the fight.
Steve Alonso, Life Member
Frenchman Paul Langévin for his first equipment for echolocation of submarines (a.k.a. sonar) in 1915. His work influenced subsequent generations of sonar systems. Imagine World War II without sonar.
Captain Matthew Carr, U.S. Navy (Retired)
In the 1820s, French General Henri-Joseph Paixhans developed an exploding shell and gun to shoot the round on a relatively flat trajectory. The combination improved accuracy of fire and the devastation to the wooden hulls of that time led to ironclad and armored ships.
The English scientist Sir Henry Thomas Tizard led the Tizard Mission in August 1940. This technical and scientific mission shared Britain’s entire military technology secrets with the United States and advanced the Navy’s research and development successes in World War II. Significant examples included radar, antiaircraft artillery fuzes, and the atomic bomb.
Commander Dave Melson, U.S. Navy
Major Teseo Tesei served in the Italian Navy during the 1930s and 40s. His role in designing small manned underwater vehicles and rebreathing devices set the technological foundation for modern naval special warfare. By developing combat swimmer technology, Tesei demonstrated that maritime special warfare forces could threaten capital ships, the traditional foundation of naval power. It is not surprising that the Italian Navy’s current special warfare force is named after him.
Commander Earl Higgins, U.S. Navy (Retired)
In the early 1950s, Royal Navy Captain Dennis Campbell invented the angled flight deck. The innovation allowed more rapid takeoff and recovery as well as safer operations. This was soon standard on all full-size aircraft carriers. Campbell was later promoted to rear admiral.
Petty Officer First Class Tracy Johnson, U.S. Navy Reserve (Retired)
Pericles, the Greek politician who decided to build the ancient Athenian Navy just in time to defeat the return of the Persians at Salamis. Perhaps he is not unrecognized, but then again references to him are uncommon. His contemporary Thucydides is more often quoted.
Captain Jorn Bleijs, Royal Netherlands Navy
Royal Netherlands Navy Commander Joep de Boer. He was the founder and first commanding officer of the Dutch military organization to develop and program combat management systems for the Royal Netherlands Navy. In 1967, the Centre for the Automation of Weapon and Command Systems was established. The urgency for developing an automated data-processing system originated from the simultaneous development of the first (mechanical) 3D radar. After more than 55 years, the Maritime IT Department still develops its own family of combat management systems for many Royal Netherlands Navy ship classes, shore facilities, trainers and simulators, and the Coast Guard.
Captain Matthew Carr, U.S. Navy (Retired)
In 1800, Robert Fulton designed and built the first submarine, named Nautilus, and fitted it with his mine weapon. In 1807, he demonstrated the first commercially successful steam-powered boat in America. He also designed the Navy’s first steam-powered ship, the Demologos, completed in 1815 and then renamed Fulton.
Chief Warrant Officer Ernie Schreiber, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The iconic Korean Admiral Yi-Sun-Sin. At the battle of Myeongnyang in 1597, Yi, with only a remnant of the Joseon fleet, defeated a Japanese fleet that was more than 10 times the 13 ships he had. Yi’s squadron was well prepared and well led, and he choose the site of the battle well.
Keith B. Rosenberg
The English carpenter and clockmaker John Harrison, inventor of the marine chronometer. Until this was achieved, determining longitude while at sea was nearly impossible, which resulted in many maritime disasters.