The SS Great Eastern was one of the greatest ships to of its time and was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Not only was it great in the sense of being one of the ships of the most brilliant ship builders of the time, it was also the largest ship to have been built in its age. The steamship weighed twenty two and a half thousand tons and was much heavier than any other ship that had ever been built. The ship at a length of close to seven hundred feet was the longest ships to have ever been built. Going by these statistics, it is easy to understand that the SS Great Eastern was a ship that was capable of shutting the mouths of all of IK Brunel’s competitors. Indeed so magnificent was this ship that no other ship of this weight, length and grandeur was to be built for another forty-odd years. A ship like no other that the world had ever seen, the SS Great Eastern was meant to go on voyages from England to Ceylon, which is now called Sri Lanka. The ship was meant to transport passenger and also to carry trading material
When the SS Great Eastern was first introduced to the world, in the November of 1857, she was first named “the Leviathan”. However, since she was meant to make a great journey across the oceans to the nation of Ceylon, which was to Great Britain’s east, she was renamed the SS Great Eastern. The company that built it went into large losses though, to the point of bankruptcy. Most of the money that was spent on the ship was spent on keeping it afloat and completing it. The ship went into the hands of new owners, who were of the opinion that the ship could have made the journey between Britain and the United States of America and Canada. There was however, a less amount of money that had been pent on the ship still, which meant only the luxury class of the ship had been looked after. There was no proper accommodation for those who did not belong to the cream of society. With such conditions, it was obvious that the ship was losing a whole lot of it customers. While the amount they paid for the ship would be low, most of the general population of the place was made up of immigrants. To add to these woes, also more financial problems arose when the ship came face-to-face with a great many number of accidents, some small, some great. However, with a ship so great, even the smallest of accidents would cost quite a fortune to fix.
The ship’s run of bad luck continued when in the September of 1859, during the first voyage, she suffered a boiler explosion. The cost of this expense was too much even for the second company to ear, and hence she fell into the hands of a third company. She finally reached New York in the month of June of 1860. During the next two months, the ship was kept on exhibition for all to see. She also made a number of small trips along the coast of the United States. The ship finally started its journey to the west in the month of May 1861, almost a year after having docked into New York. This was the time that the American Civil War had broken out. The ship was used to transport soldiers to Quebec in Canada to make strong the defense in Canada. In the month of September in the same year, she started back towards New York, however, her fate did not seem to have meant her to have good days. The ship was rendered quite a bit unstable for use for military purposes after this, as it went through a severe storm. The run of bad luck seemed to have come to an end, when she started making a series of successful voyages. However, on the third voyage itself, the SS Great Eastern slammed into rocks, and this meant that there would be more expenses to bear up to. The expenses on the ship just kept piling and soon rendered a third shipping company bankrupt. This was in the middle of the year 1863.
The Great Easter was then sold at an auction. The ship came to be used for the fixing up a telegraph cable that stretched from America and United States. This was one job that the ship was able to complete satisfactorily. The Ship became an instant hero, when the cables between America and Britain were laid, and instantaneously, communication was formed between two different nations like never before. There were efforts made by a French company to revive the ship as a passenger carrier, but these did not work out. The SS Great Britain was once more put to use for the laying of cables. The period from 1869 to 1874 was used one where she lay six new cables between Europe and America, repaired those that had been damaged earlier, and also lay a cable that went right across the Indian Ocean.
Great Eastern was laid up at Milford Haven, Wales in 1874. In 1886 she steamed to Liverpool to become an exhibition ship. This prosaic, but profitable employment continued during visits to London and Scotland later in the year. Sold late in 1887, Great Eastern went back to Liverpool, where she was stripped and slowly broken up during 1888 and 1889.
The services of SS Great Britain were finally put a stop to in 1874 at Milford Haven in Wales. She was a celebrity in her own way and so was put up on display in Liverpool in 1886. She was also a traveling exhibition ship and made several journeys between London and Scotland. The year 1887 saw this ship’s last great owner, as the Great Britain was sent back to Liverpool, her final journey. It was here that the breakdown process of the ship began. The breaking down of the ship, enormous that it was took a full two years to complete, providing employment for two hundred men.
The SS Great Britain, surely was one of the most important ships from the historical point of views. Sure she may have not been the great passenger ship, but then again, for the period that she reign in, it might have been asking for too much.