Re: Probably OT: Early steel ships

In article <bd3ebe8b-0b93-4177-a8a1-071178f8d5de@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
Joe Osman <Joseph.Osman@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On Jan 28, 3:43 am, "Keith Willshaw"
<keithnos...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
"Andrew Robert Breen" <a...@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote in

Not naval as such, but been considering (as one does....) early steel
ships lately.

Seems fairly certain the first such (unless there was anything earlier in
French registry) was the Clyde passenger steamer _Windsor Castle_ in 1859:

only). So far as I can tell, the earliest seagoing steel ship was the
_Queen of the Isles_ of 1860, small but built for year-round service from
Glasgow to the Outer Hebridies (the Minch, in winter, is not to be
scoffed at):

Given that both these ships were built from open-hearth steel (a method

ISTR that the open hearth system didnt get into volume production until
the 1860's with Bessemer steel being available from about 1853. Prior to
that steel was made in small quantities by the crucible method so would
simply have not been available although a boat made of crucible steel
was reportedly made for Robert Livingstone to use on the Zambesi.

I'd known vaguely about Livingstone's steel boat, but had rather excluded
it from the debate on the grounds of being, well, small..

_Windsor Castle_ seems to have definitely been open-hearth steel,
something which surprised me. Built within a year of the first open-hearth
plant opening in Scotland, I think. Definitely a "brave" design, too, with
a long an very light (and narrow, and shallow) hull housing very heavy and
powerful machinery amidships. Went to pieces remarkably quickly when

As to _Queen of the Isles_ - she may well have been Bessemer steel
(different builder, so may well have sourced different steel -and I
suspect cost was much more of an issue in her case)..

The first steel ship built on Teesside using Bessemer steel was the Little
in 1858. She was a coaster IRC.

To my shame, I'd not known about her. /Intersting/, and probably as much a
seagoing ship as QotI, and bigger to boot...

From Google books

Bessemer process steel ships from 1863: The metallurgy of iron and
steel edited by Sir William Chandler Roberts-Austen, p. 41

Intersting, but later than the three (four....) we have so far.

Early French use of steel in warships:Papers and discussions on steel
for ship-building By United States. Bureau of Naval Personnel p. 118

Corrosion problems of early steel ships (especially French):Papers and
discussions on steel for ship-building By United States. Bureau of
Naval Personnel p. 165 (paper by Siemens)

Again, so far as I can tell these refer to rather later ships: the move to
steel in warships was slower because of the high variability of early
steels (esp. Bessemer-process steels). Even in merchant shipping, at the
top end, its use didn't really take off until the second half of the
1870s. That's why I find these very early ships so interesting...

Andy Breen ~ Not speaking on behalf of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Feng Shui: an ancient oriental art for extracting
money from the gullible (Martin Sinclair)