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The Mariner's Mirror Podcast

The First Naval Architect: Fredrik Henrik af Chapman (1721-1808)

In this episode we explore the extraordinary life of Frerik Henrik Af Chapman, the man considered the grandfather of naval architecture. Born in Gothenburg in 1721 to immigrant English parents, his father served in the Swedish navy before becoming the manager of a shipyard in Gothenburg. His mother was the daughter of a London shipwright. Frerderik was therefore born into a life of ship design and construction and he was just ten when he designed his first vessel. By 23 he ran his own shipyard maintaining and repairing Swedish East Indiamen. This was a period when the science of shipbuilding reached new heights and Chapman, uniquely a mathematician and a shipwright, led the way. Mathematicians who studied shipbuilding lacked the practical skill to implement their own ideas; while shipwrights lacked the mathematical understanding. Frederik was the first person who combined those two skills. He made it possible to predetermine and assess mathematically different attributes of vessels such as stability and sailing qualities. To find out more Dr Sam Willis spoke with Jonas Hedberg, curator at Sweden’s National Maritime Museum in Stockholm.

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