Arctic explorer, mechanical engineer, rear admiral.
Coming from a Scottish family that has left its mark on history. His
grandfather, James Melville, emigrated to the United States in 1804.
In 1861 Melville joined the engineering corps of the US Navy,
took an active part in the Civil War, in particular in capturing the
Florida Confederate cruiser.
He was distinguished by the highest professionalism, keen
intelligence, invention and ingenuity, which were indispensable in
his naval engineering service. One
of the spheres of his professional activity was the design of
engines for the newest US warships.
Melville has also entered the history of Arctic research forever. His
first Arctic service took place as an engineer on the Tigris
expedition sent to rescue the surviving members of Charles
Hall’s team on the
In 1879 Melville joined the tragic ending expedition of J.
De Long on the
played a prominent role in her fate, becoming a model of endurance,
courage, patience and dedication to the cause and his comrades. These
qualities manifested themselves in the period of drift, at the very
beginning of which, after the strongest compression, the vessel got
leaked, and the struggle for its vitality was headed by Melville,
and during the painful and tragic journey to the south after the
death of the vessel, and in organizing searches for the missing
members of the expedition. Fate
spared him: of the three teams the team survived only led by
after his happy rescue, he went in search of his comrades, finding the
landing site of the
De Long group. In
the spring of the next, in 1882 Melville's search party discovered
belongings, and De Long's diary,
thanks to which we know the details of their painful and heroic
third group, led by Lieutenant Chip, went missing. The
United States Congress awarded Melville for bravery and
resourcefulness with an increase in rank of 15 ranks at once and the
Congressional Gold Medal. In
1884, Melville published the book In the Lena Delta, in which he
described De Long’s doomed expedition.
In 1884 Melville participated in an expedition
to rescue the remnants of the party of A.
In subsequent years, he also did not lose interest in Arctic
particular, he developed a methodology for studying currents in the
Arctic Ocean using special drifting buoy stations.
The last ship on which Melville served was the new cruiser
On August 9, 1887 President Grover Cleveland appointed Melville
as head of the Steam Bureau with the appropriate rank of Commodore. In
this post he spent more than fifteen years working on propulsion
systems for the fleet. Melville
oversaw the design of 120 ships, promoting a variety of innovations,
such as water tube boilers, engines with vertical cylinders, etc.
On March 3, 1899 he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral,
and on December 6, 1900 he was appointed head of the fleet's
Laurel Hill Cemetery
Externally, Melville attracted attention with its massive head
and powerful figure. Lush
hair and beard have given him a patriarchal look in recent years. According
to contemporaries, he somehow resembled Lord Salisbury.
He died in Philadelphia. He
was buried in
Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.
the island of Tyrtov in the Nordenskjold archipelago. Named
in 1939 by A.I. Kosoy.
the northeast of the island of Henrietta.