THE OLD STEEL engraving shown on the
other side of this page first appeared in the
London Illustrated News in 1858. The ves-
sel shown had been designed and constru-
cted as an experiment and was primarily
intended for surface voyaging.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to speculate
that Jules Verne, traditionally credited
with having foreseen the development of
the submarine, may well have gotten his
inspiration for the "Nautilus" from this

Verne's book, "Twenty Thousand Leagues
Under the Sea" was first published in 1869
and presumably was written sometime bet-
ween 1863-65.

Joseph L. Barron

Nov 27, 1858.]




We give herewith representations of this singular vessel, which was launched on the 6th October, near the Ferry Bay, at Baltimore. The Messrs. Winans of that city, the designers and constructors of this novelty in marine architecture, have supplied us with the following information in regard to the principles of construction and action of the Ocean Steamer, and the advantages expected to be derived therefrom:--

It has been with a view to obtaining greater safety, dispatch, uniformity, and certainty of action, as well as economy of transportation by sea, that we have devised and combined the elements exhibited in the vessel in question.

Experience has shown that steam power on board seagoing vessels, when used in aid of sails, ensures, to a great extent, dispatch, certainty of action, and uniformity in the time of their voyages. Now, we believe that by discarding sails entirely, and all their necessary appendages, and building the vessel of iron, having reference to the use of steam alone, these most desirable ends may be even still more fully obtained.

The vessel we are now constructing has reference to these objects, and is for the purpose of experiment, to enable us to test the accuracy and practical value of our peculiar views. It has no keel, no cutwater, no blunt bow standing up above the water-line to receive blows from the heaving sea; no flat deck to hold, or bulwark to retain the water, that a rough sea may cast upon the vessel; neither masts, spurs, nor rigging. The absence of sails not only renders the ports thus abandoned by us useless, but their abandonment in a vessel such as ours will, we believe, most materially promote safety, easy movement, or diminished strain of vessel in rough weather, will save dead or non-paying weight, ensure simplicity and economy of construction, and will give greater speed in smooth water, less diminution of speed in rough water, as well as diminished resistance to moving power at all speeds, in all water, and result in shortening the average time of making sea voyages.

The length of the vessel we are building is more than eleven times its breadth of beam, being sixteen feet broad and one hundred and eighty feet long. This whole length is made available to secure water-lines which are materially more favourable to fast speed, and also to diminished resistance to moving power at all speeds, than the water-lines of any of the seagoing steamers now built, the best of which, looking to speed and ease of movement, have a length of only eight times their breadth of beam. The portion of our vessel not immersed has the same lines as that immersed, so that it will pass easily through the heaviest sea; while, from its form and construction, no water can be shipped that will sensibly augment the load or endanger the safety of the vessel, which may, we believe, be propelled at its highest speed in rough weather with an impunity which is far from being attainable with vessels now built, to be propelled wholly or in part by sails. It is believed, also, that the plan and position of the propelling wheel is such that its minimum hold of the water will be much greater in proportion to tonnage of vessel than the maximum hold of the propelling wheel or wheels in ordinary steamers, thus enabling the full steam power to be applied, with its maximum effect, at all times and uniformly, thus making available those properties of the hull of the vessel which allow it to be propelled at full speed in the roughest sea.


The engines are high pressure, and have a cut-off that is variable from one-eighth to the stroke. They are four in number, and, combined, will exert threefold more power in proportion to displacement of water than those of the most powerful steam-packets now built. The boilers are similar to locomotive boilers in plan and construction, and can consume about thirty tons of coal in twenty-four hours.

The above peculiarities of construction, it is believed, will enable the present vessel, even notwithstanding the decided disadvantage she will labour under from her small size, to make better speed in smooth water than usual. It is believed, however, that the greatest advantages will be those exhibited in heavy weather, enabling her materially to exceed the average speed heretofore made upon the ocean.

Again, the vessel, being built entirely of iron, will be free from all danger from fire; also, from the number of her distinct and watertight compartments, she will be comparatively free from danger of sinking in case of collision or other mishap, as any one or even several of the compartments might be filled with water without seriously endangering her safety. And further, the form of the vessel, while it makes her stronger than usual, is such as to affect the least possible hold for the wind and waves; so that the danger of injury from heavy seas and storms is small. For these reasons it is believed that the vessel will be an unusually safe one.

The fact that every portion of the hull or outer shell of the vessel is ????? in all directions, and the entire material is in the best possible position and form to resist the various strains that it can be subjected to at sea, gives it an important advantage in point of strength, safety and buoyancy, over any other seagoing vessel.

The form and construction are remarkably plain and simple, resulting in great economy of material and workmanship, and facility of construction. The less the weight of material, the greater, of course, the capacity for carrying paying freight, and the less will be the resistance to moving power in proportion to such freight. With 200 tons of coal on board, the present vessel will displace about 350 tons of water, and will accomodate about 20 first-class passengers and the United States' mail, with room to spare for small valuable packages, specie, &c.

We believe that shorter average ocean passages than have yet been obtained are desirable, and may be had by vessels constructed on our plan; and if they are confined to carrying passengers, the mail, specie, and such other freight as can well afford to pay a high rate in consideration in extra dispatch and safety, we believe that they will pay better and be more useful than the vessels now used for these purposes.

We believe, further, that the same principles and properties which adapt our vessel to high average speed also adapt it to the cheap, safe, and sure transportation of freight as compared with vessels using sails only or sails and steam combined. The small hold which the wheel and waves have upon a vessel constructed on our plan, its easy movement through the water, the greater amount of freight that may be carried in proportion to weight and cost of vessel, the small risk to vessel and freight, and greater regularity in the time of making voyages must, in our opinion, give to it a great advantage in any competition where economy, speed, and certainty are the results to be obtained.


Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis

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