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John Adams Howell (1840–1918) was an American naval officer whose career included combat duty in the Civil War. He was also a noted inventor, and retired as a rear admiral.


Howell was born in 1840 at Bath, New York, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1858.

During the American Civil War, he participated in the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. He was promoted to captain in 1884 and to rear admiral in 1898. He commanded the European squadron and the North Patrol squadron in 1898.

Rear Admiral Howell wrote the first truly scientific American work on the deviations of the compass, patented a disappearing gun carriage, and originated the gyroscopic steering torpedo. He designed and patented the "Howell torpedo."

Howell retired from the Navy in 1902 and died in 1918.