News from 1889: Maiden Voyage of Teutonic

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Mark Baber

On 29 July 1889, Teutonic arrived at Liverpool, to prepare for her pre-maiden voyage appearance at the Spithead Naval Review. This article appeared while she was in Liverpool.

The Times (London), 31 July 1889

The new steamship Teutonic, of the White Star Line, arrived at Liverpool
on Monday after her first trial cruise. She is characterized by several
novelties, and is especially interesting on account of her being the
first merchant vessel built to comply with the conditions of an
Admiralty subsidy. As she is to take part in the review of the fleet at
Spithead on Saturday she is fitted with four of her complement of 12
guns. They are of the type commonly known as 5in. guns, having a range
at extreme elevation of over five miles. The charge consists of a
cartridge of 12lb. and a steel forged shell of 45lb., containing a
bursting charge of 2lb. A shot at 200 yards should penetrate a 5in.
plate of wrought iron; and it is estimated that half the shots fired
should hit a target less than a yard square a mile distant. the guns
are to be placed six on either side upon the promenade deck, and those
at present in position are fixed at the extremities of the ship.

The vessel has been built by Messrs. Harland and Wolff for Messrs.
Ismay, Imrie, and Co., and may be regarded as absolutely the safest ship
afloat. She is fitted with twin screws; and the whole of the machinery,
engines, boilers, and coal for working either screw is shut off from its
neighbour by a fore and aft bulkhead, which extends from the after end
of the engine-room to the forward end of the foremost coal bunker, and
in fact intersects the six largest of the 12 watertight compartments
made by the eleven ordinary transverse bulkheads. This fore and aft
bulkhead is pierced by only one locked door, the key of which is held by
the chief engineer. The doors between the engine-rooms and the
stokeholes are in every instance duplicated, and the duplicate door is
in every case under the control of the captain on deck. When liberated
they close by their own weight, but by an ingenious contrivance their
descent is freed from violence. Ascending from the door is a rod
surmounted by a piston, which works in a cylinder 4½in. in diameter
filled with glycerine. When the door is allowed to descend, the whole
of this glycerine has to pass through a half-inch hole in the piston,
and the sluggish liquid thus prevents a rapid and dangerous descent of
the massive door. There is, however, another, and more interesting
novelty about these doors. In the event of water flowing into the ship,
the doors will close automatically. As the water rises in the bilge it
will buoy up a hollow piston attached to a rod. This rod on being
pushed up about a foot removes the catch that holds the door; and it
might chance that the first intimation of danger in the engine-room
would be the automatic closing of these protective doors. The principle
is common enough. It is merely an adaptation of the domestic ball cock;
but, assuming the buoyancy sufficient for the work to be done, nothing
could be more certain in its action. The introduction of the fore and
aft bulkhead dividing the separate engines of a twin-screw ship has been
objected to by high authorities on the ground that if one side were
filled with water the list would be so great that the vessel would
inevitably overturn, and that what was conceived as a means of safety
would become a source of certain danger. It has, however, been
experimentally demonstrated in this case that if the two largest
compartments on one side of the fore and aft bulkhead were filled the
list would be only 12deg., and facilities are at command to correct this
by pumping in water on the other side.

The engines are triple expansion, with three cylinders of 43in., 68in.,
and 110in. in diameter, and they have been constructed to develop
17,000-horse power. The pistons have a 5ft. stroke, and the machinery,
in accordance with Admiralty requirements, has all been placed below the
water line. The boilers are 12 in number. Some are 12ft., and some
12ft. 6 in. in diameter and 17ft. long, with six furnaces in each and a
grate area of 1,163ft. The furnaces are fed with forced air to a
moderate extent above the fuel and under the grate, and the boilers are
designed to work up to 180lb. The initial pressure in the intermediate
cylinder is 80lb., and in the low about 16lb., with a vacuum of seven.
The full was not reached during the experimental cruise; indeed, some of
the furnaces were not lighted, nor has there been, as yet, any trials of
the maximum speed. The actual trial will be made in the Atlantic,
starting on Wednesday after the review.

The propellers, which are 21ft. 6in. in diameter, with a pitch of 28ft.
6in. and a superficial area of 128ft., form a subject of special
interest in this ship on account of the unusual manner in which they are
placed. They overlap each other to extent of 5ft. 6in., or, in other
words, they each extend over the centre line 2ft. 9in. The centres of
their axles are 16ft. apart; and the port side propeller is 6ft. forward
of the starboard, measuring from boss to boss. The port propeller is a
left-handed screw and the starboard a right-handed; thus both work away
from the ship; and the port propeller working in the loose water of the
after screw makes two revolutions a minutes more than its twin. The
propeller shafts are 199ft. and 205ft. long respectively, and are
entirely encased to the boss of the screw. The hull is very much cut
away under the stern, and a large space has been cut in the frames to
admit of the massive casting that carries the screw shafts. The stern
post is connected with the rudder post by a bar on the line of the keel
in the ordinary way, the scheme of allowing the rudder to be suspended
without support below having been abandoned as dangerous.

The vessel herself is 583ft. long---the longest ship afloat---57ft. 6in.
broad, 39ft. 4in. deep, and has a gross tonnage of 9,685 tons. She has
a cutter stem, and, relying wholly on her two sets of engines, the masts
are little more than three bare poles without yards. Thirty feet up the
foremast is a sort of crow’s nest for the look-out. Accommodation is
provided for 300 first-class, 150 second, and 750 steerage passengers.
She has a promenade deck 245ft. long, with a clear way of 18ft. on each
side of the deck-houses. Some portion of the promenade is covered by an
awning deck, which is used for stowing the boats.

For the fittings and decorations throughout the boat, it must suffice to
say that they are unusually lavish, even in these days of sumptuous
ocean travelling.

Among those on board during the cruise were the Marquis of Stafford, Mr.
Forwood, M.P., Sir Edward Reed, M.P., Mr. Royden, M/P., Sir Nathaniel
Barnaby, Admiral Sir F. W. Richards, Mr. Dunn, Chief Constructor of the
Navy, Mr. Trail, of the Board of Trade, and Mr. Martel and Mr. Parker,
of Lloyds’.

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