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Great Eastern, the.

This vessel, in her day, was remarkable as being the

The Great Eastern.

[154] largest steamship ever built. She was 692 feet in length, and 83 feet in breadth. 28 feet in draught, and of 24,000 tons measurement. At 30 feet draught she displaced 27,000 tons—an enormous total for an unarmored merchant vessel. As early as 1853, this vessel was projected for the East India trade around the Cape of Good Hope. There were then no accessible coal-mines in South Africa, and the Eastern Steam Navigation Company wanted a vessel that could carry its own fuel to India and return, besides, a large number of passengers and a great cargo. The vessel was designed by I. K. Brunel, and was built at the ship-yards of Messrs. Scott, Russell & Co., Millwall, near London. The operation of launching her lasted from Nov. 3, 1857, to Jan. 31, 1858. A new company had to be formed to fit her for sea, as the capital first subscribed for her had all been spent. She was fitted up to convey 5,000 persons from London to Australia, 800 first-class, 2,000 secondclass, and 1,200 third-class. She had, besides, capacity for 5,000 tons of merchandise and 15,000 tons of coal. Curiously enough, after all these vast preparations, the ship, during all of her varied career, was never used in the East India trade at all. From the first she was unfortunate. In a test trip from Deptford to Portland Roads, in 1860, an explosion of one of the boilers occurred, when ten firemen were killed and many persons were wounded. The steamer started on her first trip from Liverpool to New York, June 17, 1860, making the trip in eleven days. She made her return trip in August in ten days. She made a number of trips to and from New York during the three years following, but, owing to the lack of freight at profitable rates, she was a source of loss to her owners. In 1864 she was chartered to convey the Atlantic submarine cable; carried the first cable in 1865, which broke in midocean, and also that of 1866, which was laid successfully. During this time, also, the British government occasionally employed her as a transport ship. In 1867 she was again fitted up for a passenger vessel to ply between New York and Europe; sailed for New York March 26, 1867, with accommodations for 2,000 firstclass passengers, and returned with 191, and was immediately seized by the seamen as security for their unpaid wages. After this matter was adjusted, the vessel was leased by a cable construction company. She laid the French Atlantic telegraph cable in 1869; went to the Persian Gulf and laid the cable from Bombay to Suez in 1870; in 1873 laid the fourth Atlantic telegraph cable; in 1874 laid the fifth, and was further used to some extent in cable construction. When there seemed to be no more use for her in that line, she was made to serve as a “show.” After the vessel had been tried by the government as a coal barge, and proved too unwieldy to do good service, she was condemned to be broken up and sold as junk.

Great Lakes and the Navy, the

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