ASME-Landmark:SS Great Britain


The innovative SS Great Britain, launched in 1843, was the first iron-hulled, screw-propelled ship to cross any ocean. At 3270 gross register tons and an overall length of 322 feet, the SS Great Britain was the largest ship in the world at the time of its launch.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed the SS Great Britain's compartmented hull, unprecedented 1,500-horsepower engine with chain drive, and many other seminal features. New design features included a balanced rudder, an electric log, a double bottom, and five transverse water-tight bulkheads. Its screw engine was a four-cylinder, two-crank inverted-V type with an included angle of 60 degrees, the end of the inverted-V finding their space in the turn of the bilge. The bore and stroke were 88 and 72 inches, respectively; the bore was probably the largest ever to go to sea. The 15'6" diameter propeller featured six arms welded to heavy blades, having a total area of 56 square feet and a pitch of 25 feet.

Launched July 19, 1843, the ship's first 14-day voyage to New York in 1845 began a career as a passenger and later cargo vessel. Finally retired from the seas in 1886, the sturdy hull survived eighty-four years of disuse in the Falklands and returned to her dock of origin in Bristol in 1970, 127 years after launch, where it remains as a museum ship. See ASME website for more information