by Rick Etsell

H. C. Hanson Ad

Harold Cornelius Hanson was one of the most prolific and well respected naval architects in the Pacific Northwest, with a career spanning 65 years (1907-1972). Hanson was born in Bellingham in 1892, the son of a shipyard superintendant at Pacific American Fisheries yard on  Eliza Island. Although he studied at Western Washington College and the University of Washington, it was his practical knowledge of work boat design, construction, and operation that set him apart in his field. During his career, he reportedly designed upwards of 3000 vessels, designs resulting in more than 18,000 vessels built.. 

Hanson worked for the U.S. government through World War I and World War II, as an inspector and consultant, and was a frequent contributor to international maritime meetings, including the FAO International Fishing Vessel Congress.

Although known principally for his work boat and military vessel designs, numerous of his designs have proven themselves as capable, comfortable yachts.

From the Whatcom Museum Hanson exhibit: "Hanson-designed vessels were not only seaworthy but visually graceful; as a result many are still esteemed and in active service around the globe. The H. C. Hanson Naval Architecture Collection is a unique collection of plans, photographs, periodicals and other assorted materials detailing the life and work of this revered designer of commercial watercraft." [Link below]


H.C. Hanson designed this Forest Service Boat as a Rough Water Power Launch for the U.S. Forest Service around 1957. Built by the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding's Traditional Large Craft construction class, it is 25 feet long and just over 7 feet in beam with a 4 foot draft. Driven by a modern 40hp Yanmar diesel engine, it is being fully equipped to support two people for a cruising lifestyle in the waters of Puget Sound.

External Link: Whatcom County Museum H. C. Hanson Collection