U.S.N.S. Chauvenet was named after William Chauvenet (1820-1870), who entered the U.S. Navy Schoolmaster system as a Professor of Mathematics in 1841. Following service aboard U.S.S. Mississippi, he was assigned to the Naval School at Philadelphia which had been established to educate Midshipmen and junior officers.
The "Philadelphia Naval Asylum" was an informal and poorly equipped program in 1842. This quickly changed when Professor Chauvenet arrived. A tougher course of study was enacted and new instruments were obtained for the students to work with.
However, the course of study allowed for midshipmen at Philadelphia was only eight months long (one academic year). Chauvenet worked for the next three years to expand the curriculum from one year to two. The establishment of the new "Naval School" at Annapolis, MD in 1845 was the direct result of Chauvenet's tireless efforts.
Professor Chauvenet taught mathematics and navigation from the very first day of classes at this new "Naval School". He continued to work tirelessly to improve the school, equipping it's first astronomical observatory and developing the plan which extended the course of study from two years to four, a program that still exists today. In recognition of the significant changes that had occurred, the "Naval School" was renamed the U.S. Naval Academy in 1850.
Professor Chauvenet became the head of the Department of Astronomy and Navigation in 1853. By the time of his death on 13 December, 1870, William Chauvenet was a renowned American scholar. He had been a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences, a president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.
In 1969, Chauvenet Hall was dedicated at the U.S. Naval Academy. It houses the Department of Mathematics, as well as numerous classrooms and laboratories.
U.S.N.S. Chauvenet was built by Upper Clyde Shipbuilders of Glasgow, Scotland in 1970. She was converted to a maritime school ship in 1996. Her first training cruise as U.S.T.S. Texas Clipper II will take her to the Caribbean, Mexico, and the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
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William Chauvenet's biographical information is courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. Without the cheerful assistance of the U.S. Naval Academy, this web page could not have been created.