griffiths200w294h.jpg (15608 bytes)John W. Griffiths
Designer–Sea Witch

[The following is excerpted from Nautical Research Journal.]

John Willis Griffiths was considered a genius as a naval architect, although somewhat eccentric in his zeal to improve American naval architecture. Besides leading the clipper ship era, first with Rainbow and then with Sea Witch, he also designed many successful steam ships and war vessels. He had many patents to his name as he experimented with shipbuilding procedures, and he wrote of his theories with great exuberance. He was proud of Sea Witch and confessed "It will be entirely proper to add, that the model of the Sea Witch had more influence upon the subsequent configuration of fast vessels, than any other ship ever  built in the United States" while writing in The Monthly Nautical Magazine for August 185.

Smith and Dimon, builders of the Sea Witch, penned a letter two years after her construction. "Having known Mr. John W. Griffiths for many years, a number of which has been in our employ, during which time he has obtained celebrity for honesty and industry. It affords us pleasure to testify to his ability and moral worth. We have no hesitation recommending him as a "Marine and Naval Architect" of the first order. A gentleman who has reached an eminence in the line of his profession rarely attained, and whose skill in this branch of Mechanism we believe to be unsurpassed."

His colleague and shipbuilding rival wrote from East Boston in 1859: "In this testimonial I am happy to state what I believe all the Commerical World knows, that you are a Master of your profession, have no Superior in it - a Scientific and practical Ship builder - & an illustrious Citizen..." It was signed by Donald McKay.