Raymond Stanton Patton
Rear Admiral, U. S. Coast & Geodetic Survey
Within a month after his graduation Mr. Patton was appointed an officer in the Field Corps of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. He rose to the position of Director of the Survey in 1929, in which position he served until his death.
Mr. Patton's first field work began in August 1904, on the Atlantic Coast where he served as a Junior Officer on the Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship HYDROGRAPHER, engaged in Coast Pilot revision, and with a shore party carrying on topographic surveys in Virginia. This was followed in 1906 by assignment to duty on the Survey Ship GEDNEY, operating in southeastern Alaska.
In the spring of 1907, he began a 3-year tour of duty in the Philippine Islands, where, as a Junior Officer on the Survey Ships ROMBLON and RESEARCH, he took part in surveys of various localities including Tanon Straits, the north coast of Negros Island, and the southeast coast of Luzon. For a part of this time he was also a member of several shore parties engaged in surveys of Mindanao, Bohol, and the Camiguin Islands.
During this period, conditions in the Philippine Islands were far different from those at present. The Insurrection was not far in the past and the Filipinos, especially in areas away from centers of population, were in a state of unrest, and in many cases were resentful toward Americans. Living conditions, affecting health, recreation, and even the ordinary comforts, were far from satisfactory. In this, as well as in his other early assignments, Mr. Patton's cheerfulness in enduring hardships and his zeal in the performance of his duties indicated the pioneering spirit and devotion to the interests of the Service which characterized his entire career.
Upon his return to the United States in 1910, he was engaged on various projects along the Atlantic Coast, including triangulation in Massachusetts and resurveys of Delaware Bay and Albemarle Sound until the summer of 1911 when, after a brief assignment as Executive Officer of the Survey Ship BACHE, on the Gulf Coast, he again went to Alaska as Executive Officer of the Survey Ship PATTERSON. Later in the same year, this ship operated on the Pacific Coast of the United States and in the western approaches to the Panama Canal. In 1912, Mr. Patton was given command of the Survey Ship EXPLORER, and for the following 3 years was in charge of the work of that ship in Alaska, of which a survey of the approaches to the Kuskokwim River was especially important.
Returning to Washington in 1915, Captain Patton was placed in charge of the compilation of the volumes of the Coast Pilot published by the Coast and Geodetic Survey to provide mariners with information required for coastal navigation in addition to that shown on the nautical charts. In this capacity he had charge of the field and office work required for the periodic revision of the Coast Pilots and was the author of two volumes, the 1916 edition of the Alaska Coast Pilot for the region from Yakutat Bay to the Arctic Ocean, and the 1917 edition of the Coast Pilot for the Pacific Coast of the United States.
With the entry of the United States into the World War, Captain Patton was anxious to join the armed forces, and in September 1917, together with a number of other officers of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, he was transferred by Executive Order to the Navy Department and served as a Lieutenant and, later, as a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve Force for the duration of the war.
After the conclusion of this service he returned to the Coast and Geodetic Survey and, in 1919, was appointed Chief of the Chart Division. It was during his tenure in this office that his ability as an organizer and executive began to have considerable effect on the progress of the Survey's work. For some time prior to his appointment to this position, it had been realized that the Bureau's service to maritime interests was impaired by the rather lengthy period required for the compilation of nautical charts following the completion of field surveys. This condition, however, had been regarded as inevitable on account of the careful and painstaking work which is always required when extreme accuracy is essential and the arduous nature of many of the processes involved.
Recognizing the need for improvement in this respect, Captain Patton immediately applied himself to the problem and met with marked success. Through a complete re-organization of the Division, the adoption of a comprehensive production schedule, and his constant encouragement of those under him in the development of more efficient methods and equipment, the period necessary for chart compilation was gradually reduced to about one-third of the time formerly required, with no impairment in quality.
In connection with his work in the Chart Division he became interested in beach erosion and devoted extensive study and research to this subject. In 1921, the New Jersey Board of Commerce and Navigation asked Secretary of Commerce Hoover to designate a representative of his Department to serve on an engineering advisory board created to study erosion problems in that State, for the purpose of devising better means of protecting the highly improved and valuable sections of the coast. Captain Patton was named by Secretary Hoover for that duty, and cooperated actively in the execution of the project. The studies made were embodied in part in two reports, one published in 1922 and one in 1924. These reports form the basis for an active participation by the State of New Jersey in the problem of shore protection.
In 1925, he was appointed a member of the Committee of the National Research Council on Shoreline Investigations and in the following year was named its Chairman. Knowledge of the importance to New Jersey of coast protection suggested to the Committee that a similar situation might exist in other States to such an extent as to constitute a national problem in which the Council would be justified in becoming interested. Inquiry along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts revealed that almost every State was struggling with conditions similar to those in New Jersey, each State or community groping its way toward solutions independently of the others.
Since the National Research Council had neither the funds nor the personnel for a direct attack upon the problem, the obvious method was to link together all these isolated efforts into a united one. This was accomplished through the creation of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association organized in December 1926, through joint action by the Committee on Shoreline Investigations and the Governors of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast States. Captain Patton took a major part in its formation, was its Secretary-Treasurer until June 1929, and a Director until his death. On account of his extensive knowledge of this subject and of the activities and records of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey he was frequently called upon to serve as an expert witness in litigation concerning riparian property boundaries.
He continued as Chief of the Chart Division until April 29, 1929, when he was commissioned by President Hoover as Director of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, succeeding E. Lester Jones, M. Am. Soc. C.E., who died on April 9, 1929. At that time he held the relative rank of Captain in the Navy. In March 1936, Captain Patton was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral.
Under the leadership of Admiral Patton the modernization of survey methods and equipment, which had been initiated by Colonel Jones, was continued and accelerated. Through his own progressiveness and the encouragement he constantly gave to his colleagues, great advances were made in the efficiency of all branches of the Survey's work. Many of the improvements effected were at the start highly experimental and their final success was due in no small measure to his vision of their possibilities and his unfailing assistance in their development.
An outstanding achievement of this period was the expansion of the operations of the Coast and Geodetic Survey during the depression years from 1933 to 1935. From the beginning of the depression Admiral Patton realized that there was a vast amount of work of this character which could be carried on to advantage throughout the country and that it was well adapted to the relief of unemployment, especially in the case of men with engineering training. With the effective cooperation of the officers of the Society and others vitally interested in the conditions confronting the engineering profession at that time, he was able to secure substantial allotments of emergency funds which were utilized to provide employment for a large number of engineers and, at the same time, to accomplish an extensive amount of worth-while work much of which had been urgently needed for some time.
He derived great pleasure from the success of this undertaking and often expressed his gratification at the receipt of expressions of appreciation from engineers who were not only provided with employment during this trying period, but were enabled to utilize their ability in their chosen profession for the accomplishment of projects of lasting value to the nation.
Always modes and unassuming, Admiral Patton was a man of high ideals and integrity. In addition to being an able engineer and executive, he had to a marked degree the qualities which brought him the high esteem and affection of all who knew him. His career is admirably epitomized in the following tribute by Secretary of Commerce Daniel C. Roper:
"In the death of Admiral Patton, the Government has lost one of its most capable officials and the engineering profession one of its outstanding leaders. He was held in the highest esteem by his associates and by Members of, and Committees in, the Congress with whom he came in contact, and was recognized as an authority in his work throughout the world. The Coast and Geodetic Survey over which he has been the head for 8½ years is one of the most efficient and progressive bureaus of our Government. Devotion to service by men of the character, integrity, and standing of Admiral Patton gives a new assurance to American citizenship; it gives us greater confidence in the future of our country. We grieve over his passing, but we are thankful for his contribution to the service of the Department of Commerce and to the nation."
Admiral Patton was a Past-President of the Washington Society of Engineers; Life Trustee of the National Geographic Society; Trustee of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; and a member of the National Research Council, Association of American Geographers, American Geophysical Union, and the American Astronomical Society. He was also a member of the Cosmos Club of Washington. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
He was married on November 7, 1912, to Virginia
Mitchell of Seattle, Washington, who survives him. He also left a son,
Raymond S. Patton; two daughters, Helen M. and Virginia M. Patton; his
mother, Mrs. Oliver Patton; a sister, Mrs. J.C. Custenborder; and a brother,
Paul C. Patton. Admiral Patton was elected a Member of the American Society
of Civil Engineers on July 11, 1921.
No eulogy of Admiral Patton need be addressed to members of this Service for all who knew him need no written word to remind them how richly he was endowed with the qualities which bring forth wholehearted allegiance to a trusted leader and love for a true friend. We all know how inspiring was his leadership in the progress which in recent years has enabled our Bureau to increase so materially the quality and volume of the service which it is our mission to render to our country.
Admiral Patton's career can be epitomized in no better way than by quoting the following tribute by Secretary of Commerce Daniel C. Roper: "In the death of Admiral Patton the Government has lost one of its most capable officials and the engineering profession one of its outstanding leaders. He was held in the highest esteem by his associates and by Members of and committees in the Congress with whom he came in contact, and was recognized as an authority in his work throughout the world. The Coast and Geodetic Survey, over which he has been the head for 8½ years, is one of the most efficient and progressive bureaus of our Government. Devotion to service by men of the character, integrity, and standing of Admiral Patton gives a new assurance to American citizenship; it gives us greater confidence in the future of our country. We grieve over his passing, but we are thankful for his contribution to the service of the Department of Commerce and to the Nation.
signed J.H. Hawley, Acting Director
Rear Admiral Raymond S. Patton, Director of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey for the past 8½ years, died at his home, 3920 McKinley Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., at 6 o'clock Thursday morning, November 5, 1937.
Born December 29,1882, in Degraff, Ohio the son of Oliver and Ida M. (Cloninger) Patton, he was educated in the public schools in Sidney, Ohio, and received the Degree of Ph. B. from Adelbert College of Western Reserve University in June 1904. He entered the Coast and Geodetic Survey on July 2, 1904, serving as a Junior Officer in the field and later as chief of party and Commanding Officer of survey vessels engaged on field surveys on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts of the United States, as well as in Alaska and the Philippine islands, until his appointment as Chief of the Coast Pilot Section in the Washington Office of the Survey in 1915. He was Chief of the Chart Division in charge of chart production from 1919 until he was appointed Director by President Hoover on April 29, 1929. He was reappointed by President Roosevelt in 1933 and 1937. He served as Lieutenant and Lieutenant Commander in the Navy during the World War.
Admiral Patton was recognized as one of the
country's foremost authorities on questions involving beach erosion and
beach protection. He was a member of the National Research Council Committee
on Shoreline Investigations, and in 1926, as
He was endowed with an unusually brilliant mind. An engineer by profession, he was well informed on a great many subject and was the author of numerous publications of the Coast and Geodetic Survey and articles for scientific and engineering journals.
He was past president of the Washington Society of Engineers; life trustee of the National Geographic Society; trustee of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Director of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association; and a member of the Engineering Advisory Committee on Coast Erosion to the New Jersey Board of Commerce and Navigation, National Research Council, Association of American Geographers, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Geophysical Union, and the American Astronomical Society. He was a member of the Cosmos Club.
Funeral services were conducted at the residence
on the morning of Saturday, November 27, followed by burial in Arlington
National Cemetery, with full military honors.
Photo courtesy of USCGS & NOAA
Photo Courtesy of the Patton Family
Posted: 25 June 2002 Updated: 11 June 2003 Updated: 6 November 2005