Harcum resident has lifelong interest in model shipbuilding

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jan 02, 2013 - 12:25 PM

Harcum resident Ted Williams has been building ship models for the Navy for over 30 years. However, his interest in model shipbuilding has stretched through most of his life.

Williams has spent his career on design teams for full-size ships and is a degreed Naval Architect. From time to time, between models, Williams designs and builds boats, such as the 17-foot electric picnic boat he built for Karen, his wife, a few years ago.

Williams’s most recent creation, a model of the U.S.S. Arleigh Burke, DDG-51, Guided Missile Destroyer, was the first U.S. Navy ship to incorporate sloped surface geometry as a stealth measure to make radar detection more difficult.

He said the DDG-51 is the lead ship of the Burke Class and was designed in the mid- to late-1980s. There are currently 65 of them in the fleet, with nine more planned for production. Williams said the ships may frequently be seen at the Yorktown ammunition piers.

According to Williams, the DDG-51 design’s primary technical advance over previous destroyers was its Aegis radar system, employing large, fixed panels in a phased array, rather than the rotating radar antennas common to earlier ships. Combined with a vertical missile launch system, Aegis can track and target multiple aircraft and missiles, Williams said. It is currently being upgraded to provide mobile, ballistic missile defense.

The model measures 46 inches in length by 16 inches high. Williams normally builds his models from layered basswood planks for the hull and sheet basswood for the deckhouses. Sheet styrene, resin castings and photo-etched brass are used to make the various pieces of equipment. This model was a departure for Williams, using a purchased, fiberglass hull and all styrene for the deckhouses.