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The Greatest Iron Ship S.S. Great Eastern Presented By – Gerard Murphy Conception Sailing ships reliant on weather conditions. Steam ships now a proven technology. Asia and Australia forms the majority of the Empires trade. Gold Found in Australia.

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The greatest iron ship s s great eastern l.jpg
The Greatest Iron ShipS.S. Great Eastern

Presented By – Gerard Murphy


Conception l.jpg
Conception

  • Sailing ships reliant on weather conditions.

  • Steam ships now a proven technology.

  • Asia and Australia forms the majority of the Empires trade.

  • Gold Found in Australia.

  • Growing demand for transport of People and Cargo.


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Problems Faced

  • Main problem is that a steam ship would have to re-fuel en route.

  • If you double the size – Quadruple the volume.

  • Construct a ship big enough to carry enough fuel for a return trip.

  • The longer the ship the higher the speed it could reach.


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Specification

  • 693 Feet Long.

  • 32,000 tons displacement.

  • Double Hull.

  • Propulsion by screw (24 feet), 2 paddles (52 feet) and 6 sailing masts.

  • Top speed of 14 knots (18 mph).


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Victoria

Limited cargo capacity

300 passengers

60 days

£12,000 with refuelling stops

Great Eastern

Huge cargo capacity – 5,000 tons

3,000 passengers

30 – 35 days

£7,200 for return trip

Competitor Comparison


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The Deal

  • Proposed TWO ships.

  • Cost £50,000 per ship (£25 million).

  • Construction began May 1854.

  • Estimated 18 months to complete.

    “At a time when a ship of 1,000 tons was considered large the Great Eastern at 22,374 tons was truly monstrous!”


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Construction

Everything connected with the great ship demanded new tools, techniques and enlarged facilities of all kinds.


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Litany of Problems

  • Fire at Russell's yard – no Insurance.

  • Death of major shareholder.

  • Brunel’s insistence of approval on smallest details.

  • Crimean war – labour shortage & costs.

  • Fall in demand for shipping.


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Launch

After 41 months (23 late), ready to launch.

First ever side-ways launch.


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Launch

  • 3rd November 1957.

  • Desperate for money company sold tickets.

  • At 12:30 christened Leviathan and order to launch given.

  • Chains snap, five men injured one fatally - ship has only moved 4 feet.

  • Over the next 12 week ship is pushed and pulled into the Thames - afloat 30th Jan 1858.

  • Launch costs £14,000 -> £25,000 -> £100,000 -> £170,000.

  • Ships cost so far £732,000 (£35 million).


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Service Life

  • 1858 – Sea trials, blocked safety valve causes explosion.

  • 1860 – Maiden voyage Southampton to New York.

  • 1861 – Caught in severe storm, stranded for 3 days (£60,000).

  • 1863 – 80ft hole ripped in side (£70,000).

  • 1864 – Ship ‘Laid Up’, made a total of 9 transatlantic crossings.

  • 1865 Eastern Steam Navigation company declared bankrupt.


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Service Life – cont.

1866 – First Successful transatlantic cable laid.


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Service Life – cont.

  • 1867 – Bought by French Gov, Paris exhibition only 191 out of 3,000 berths sold.

  • 1869 – Resumes cable laying duties – 5 transatlantic cables and 1 to Aden, Bombay and Suez.

  • 1872 – ‘Laid up’, replaced by purpose built cable layers.

  • 1885 – Leased by a Mr Lewis – floating amusement park.

  • 1888 – Sold for scrap £16,500, 2 years to break up, inspiring the invention of the wrecking ball.


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Lessons learned

  • Rapid advancement in technology, tools, techniques and innovations.

  • Failure not just down to bad luck but also management.

  • Leap in scale appreciated but perhaps not leap in risks.


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Conclusion

  • First ship ever built that exceeded the dimensions of Noah’s Ark.

  • Six times larger than any ship in existence.

  • 50 years before it size was surpassed.

  • Influenced the design of every large ship ever since.