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SS Great Britain

The SS Great Britain was the first iron built steam ship with screw propulsion to cross the Atlantic and was built in Bristol (UK) in 1843.

She was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company’s transatlantic service between Bristol and New York.  On 26 July 1845, she embarked on her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York and arrived safely just under 15 days later.

Systems engineering and modular design skills can be used to create a simple design of this ground breaking ship. Try the following:

  • Hull (structural system);
  • One boiler (propulsion);
  • Two steam pistons (propulsion);
  • One propeller (propulsion);
  • One rudder (control) and;
  • The captain’s helm wheel (control).

In September 1846 the SS Great Britain ran aground on the East coast of Northern Ireland and was not refloated until August 1847.  At this point, just two years after her maiden voyage the ship was sold to new owners, repaired and, to reflect rapid advances in technology, overhauled and given new engines and propeller.

The new boilers were smaller and operated at 10 PSI (69 kPa) twice the pressure of the originals. These changes enabled the cargo capacity to be almost doubled from 1,200 to 2,200 tons.

SS Great Britain entered service again in 1852 and carried passengers and freight around the World till 1886.  Her last trip was to the Falkland Islands (South Atlantic, near Argentina) where she was used for storage.  The SS Great Britain was returned to Bristol in 1970 for restoration and is now displayed in the dock where she was built.

DID YOU KNOW?

SS Great Britain’s last trip was to the Falkland Islands (South Atlantic, near Argentina) in 1886