ship building
Maritime Topics On Stamps :

Screw Driven Ships and further Developments

development of steam-shipping, part II.

shipbuilding today

screw stamps
The Greek mathematician Archimedes lived from 285 to 212 B.C.. He developed the 'Archimedian Screw'. It was a spiral in a screw-shaped tunnel. This screw marks the beginning in the development of the ship propeller (topic left). In the 18th century many projects, plans and tests were conducted in England, France and America, but they all failed. Eventually the first steamers were constructed with paddles. But two men continued the experiments: the Austrian Joseph Ressel (stamp right) and the British Francis Petitt Smith. From 1812 to 1826 Ressel built a working propeller and in 1839 Smith developed a screw which was actually installed on the steamer 'Archimedes'.

Robert F. Stockton
The Swedish engineer John Ericsson achieved a major breakthrough in screw development. He built three test ships in short succession in England. The last one was named 'Robert F. Stockton' and reached 13 knots during a test trip on the river Thames in the year 1838. In 1839 Ericsson sailed to America with the same ship within 40 days. It was the first journey across the Atlantic with a screw-driven ship. The ship continued to serve under the name 'New Jersey' for a long time afterwards on the Delaware-Raritan Channel. Later on Ericsson built two man-of-wars in America, the 'Princeton' and the 'Monitor'.

The Cunard liners 'Persia' and 'Scotia' were the last fast steamers with paddle-wheels on the North-Atlantic (1856 to 1872). Then the screw-driven ships followed. The White Star Line build the 'Adriatic', the 'Britannic' and the 'Germanic'. The Inman Line build the 'City of Brussels' and the 'City of Berlin' (see stamp). The engine of the 'City of Berlin' reached 3200 HP. Using one screw the ship made 14 knots and won the famous 'Blue Riband' in 1875. The length was 520ft, beam 44ft, BRT 5491. In 1879 the steamer was the first ship to be equipped with an electric cabin lights system. City of Berlin

City of Paris In 1888 the'City of New York' and her sistership 'City of Paris' (stamp) were build for the Inman Line. They became the first double-screw fast liners of the world. They crossed the Atlantic in six days at an average speed of 20 knots. Both won the 'Blue Riband' shortly thereafter. The measurements: length 556ft, beam 62ft, BRT 10499, HP 18500, three funnels, 1740 passengers in three classes.

The Danish cargo ship 'Selandia' was build in 1912. She was the first sea-going motor vessel of the world. On her maiden voyage to Japan she sailed for 22000 miles without problems. The ship was owned by the Danish East Asiatic Company, which believed in the superiority of the Diesel motor over the classic steam engine. The 'Selandia' was equipped with two four-cycle Diesel engines with 1250 HP each and two screws. Her average speed reached 11 to 12 knots. The length 384ft, beam 52.5ft, draft 29.5ft, BRT 4964, built at the dock-yards of Burmeister and Wain, Copenhagen. Note: the ship had no real funnel, only an exhaust pipe at the mast. Selandia

United States The American 'United States' was the fastest non- military vessel of the world. In 1951 she was build as a passenger liner (2000 passengers), but could be used as a troop carrier (14000 soldiers). She sported four steam gear-turbines with 27000 HP. Using all four screws she could reach a maximum speed of 42 knots, although the standard official cruising speed was 'only' 36 knots. In 1952 the 'United States' won the 'Blue Riband' and holds the record up to today (for single hull vessels). Her fastest Atlantic passage took 3 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes from Ambrose lightship to Bishop Rock lighthouse.
Some measurements: Length 991ft, beam 102ft, draft 36ft, BRT 53329, 16 decks. The whole interior was made of inflammable material. In 1969 the ship was docked and she temporarily served as a hospital ship. Eventually the 'United States' was sold to a cruise line company in 1981.

'Atomic' driven ships have a nuclear reactor to produce the steam for the turbines. The American submarine 'Nautilus' was the first nuclear powered vessel of the world. In 1954 construction had been finished. Nuclear reactors don't need oxygen, so they are an obvious choice for submarines allowing them to travel under the surface with high speed (30kn) for a very long time. The 'Nautilus' even dived beneath the mighty ice of the North Pole (see stamp). Today many submarines and ice breaker ships use a nuclear powered drive, although they never paid off when fitted to merchant ships (e.g. 'Savannah', 'Mutsu', 'Otto Hahn'). Nautilus
See our page about the three merchant nuclear freighters!

Hydrofoil boat
As we all know 'Time is money.' and scientists try all possible and impossible things to raise the speed. This applies to shipping as well. To the left you can see a hydrofoil boat. Because of the form of the hydrofoil the currents have the same effect as on an aeroplane. At a certain angle and speed a vacuum arises which partly lifts the boat out of the water. This vacuum greatly reduces friction and thus, increases speed. It is the same effect as with the double hull boats, the so-called catamarans. The total surface below the waterline is greatly reduced than a normal single hull boat. As with the hydrofoil boats this results in less friction and higher speeds.

Hamburg tug
The Voith-Schneider propulsion was developed in 1929 by the Austrian Ernst Schneider and the company Voith. The drive itself consists of four to six propeller wings, mounted on a rotating disc. The wings do swinging movements to achieve the propulsion. The placement on the ship allows to steer the boat with the drives alone. It is even possible to rotate the whole ship on the spot. A lot of modern tugs (i.e. in the port of Hamburg) use this drive today. The propellers are mounted under the focsle to get a better hawser pull. Some even have two Voith- Schneider propulsions, fore and aft.

Hovercraft A hovercraft (aircraft boat) is sliding on a compressed air pillow above the water surface. Many controversies arose whether to classify it as an aeroplane or a ship. Among the most famous inventors were the Swedish Carl Gustav de Laval (1883) and the Brtish Cristopher S. Cockerill (1950). The two boats built at the British Hovercraft Corporation are the largest hovercrafts in the world. The 'ships' with a length of 179ft can travel at a speed of 150 kph and transport up to 416 passengers and 55 cars. Today they serve as ferryboats on the English Channel (up to Oct. 2000, then out of duty). Over 100 different types in more than 20 countries are used for passenger transportation.

The latest development in shipping drives is the 'Azipod (Azimuth Podded Drive) Electric Propulsion Drive'. The propulsion unit looks like a small gondela hanging beneath the stern of the vessel, containing a powerful electric engine and the propeller. The pod can be rotated a full 360 degrees and works as a steering unit as well. Traditional rudders, stern thrusters, propeller-shaft and shaft tunnels become obsolete. The small engine room contains only the diesel generators to provide electric power. Noise, vibrations and weight are reduced to a minimum. Additionally the unused space can be used to increase cargo capacity.
The Azipod system has been jointly developed by Kvaener Masa-Yards and ABB Industry of Finnland. The Azipod already is the engine of choice for cruise liners of the Carnival Cruise Lines and the Royal Caribbean Cruise and even for some ice-breakers. The silhouette on the stamp above shows the new 'Europa' of Hapag Lloyd, finished in 1999. At the stern you can spot the Azipod gondela. Two Azipod units are installed, each sporting a power of 14 MW. They enable the'Europa' to push its 28600 BRZ to an average speed of 21 knots. In the meantime the companies Siemens and Schottel have developed their 'Siemens-Schottel-Propulsor'. There are two propellers at the gondela. Caribbean Cruiser

chain steamer We all know the famous 'Cable Car' in San Francisco. A similar technic was used on the European rivers. The cable cars cling to a running cable. The 'chain steamers' pull themselves up-stream along a fixed chain lying on the ground of a river instead. The chain was moved by a heavy winch powered by a steam engine. From 1866 to 1892 a lot of different companies operated on the river Elbe (Germany) using chain steamers. In shallow or driftage-heavy rivers these ships were superior to the more commonly known paddle- and screw-steamers.
A stamp with the passenger liner 'Titanic'. Her engines had a power of 46000 HP and with three screws she reached a speed of 23 to 24 knots. See our page about the 'Titanic' desaster!  S.S. Titanic

© 1998 - 2003 Bjoern Moritz, all rights reserved.

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