SS Vespasian

SS Vespasian was a steel-hulled cargo steamship that was built in Sunderland in 1887 as Eastern Prince, renamed Vespasian in 1908 and scrapped in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1914. In 1908 the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company converted her to steam turbine propulsion. She is notable as the first ship in the World whose turbines drove her propeller by reduction gearing instead of direct drive.


Eastern Prince 1887–1908

Short Brothers of Sunderland built Eastern Prince in Pallion, Sunderland, launching her on 17 September 1887. Her registered length was 292.6:ft (89.2:m), her beam was 39.0:ft (11.9:m) and her depth was 18.9:ft (5.8:m). Her tonnages were 2,147:GRT and 1,408:NRT. She had a clipper bow and clipper stern, two masts and one funnel. As built, Eastern Prince had a three-cylinder triple-expansion steam engine built by George Clark of Southwick.

Eastern Prince was built for the Prince Steam Shipping Company, which was managed by James Knott of Newcastle. In 1892 her net register tonnage was revised to 1,378. In 1899 her ownership was transferred to Prince Line, under the same management. In 1908 Wilson and Wilson of Newcastle bought her, but in the same year sold her on to the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company.

Marine turbine flexiblity and efficiency

All of the steam turbine ships, including Turbinia (1894), HMS:Viper:(1899), TS:King Edward (1901), RMS:Victorian (1904), RMS:Carmania:(1905) and RMS:Lusitania (1906) had direct drive from their turbines to their propellers. This meant that their propellers ran at turbine speed, which was much faster than the speed of reciprocating marine steam engines.

Direct-drive turbine ships used more coal and water than steamships with reciprocating engines, and they were suitable only for services in which they could sustain speeds of 16 knots (30:km/h) or more. In the early... more

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