A partir de este articulo, e intercalados entre los de temas puramente nacionales, en Vida Marítima publicaremos historias de buques de otras contraseñas. Principalmente serán transcripciones de artículos, al completo, encontrados en otras revistas y libros, sobre todo de la época entre 1880 y 1920. Aunque de dominio publico, siempre que sea posible, solicitaremos los permisos correspondientes para poder publicarlos. Los artículos que no sean transcripciones integras serán, por regla general, muy cortos tanto en contenido como en fotografías y se irán ampliando con la colaboración de los lectores. Hoy comenzaremos con uno de los últimos paddles trasatlánticos; el francés WASHINGTON.
H. Philip Spratt (B. Sc., A.S.M.E.), publico en 1951 el libro TRANSATLANTIC PADDLE STEAMERS. Lo editaron Brown, Son & Ferguson, Limited, de Glasgow y narra de una manera condensada, aunque interesantísima, la historia de los primeros paddles a vapor que cruzaron el Atlántico. Otros libros del autor son: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF TRANSATLANTIC STEAM NAVIGATION; OUTLINE HISTORY OF TRANSATLANTIC STEAM NAVIGATION; MERCHANT STEAMERS AND MOTOR SHIPS, PART II y otros de tematica mas tecnica.
Sobre el WASHINGTON y sus características el autor apunta: “P.S. «WASHINGTON» (1863).
This was the first of three paddle steamers ordered by the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, for the French Line mail service between Havre and New York.127 The vessel was built of iron by Messrs. Scott and Co., at Greenock, and launched on the 17th June 1863. Her two sister-ships, the «LAFAYETTE» and the “IMPERATRICE EUGENIE,” completed in 1864, were the last paddle steamers constructed for the Atlantic service.
The «WASHINGTON» was constructed with four keelsons under the engine-room, which was enclosed fore and aft by transverse water-tight bulkheads. The frames were all double, and were spaced 20 in. apart; those under the engine-room were reinforced.
The hull plates varied in thickness from 1 in. to 0-63 in., and were double-riveted. The horizontal seams were overlapped in alternate strakes; the vertical seams were flush. The hull plates were also double-riveted to the keel, and to the stem and sternpost.
The vessel had four decks, of which the weather-deck was flush from stem to stern; the depth between decks was 7,25 ft.
The deck beams consisted each of a strip with two angle-irons; these were spaced 40 in. apart, bent over at the ends, and riveted to the frames. The supports for the outer bearings of the paddle-wheels were attached to the outer plating of the hull. Accommodation was provided for a total of 330 passengers, and the holds provided, in the first instance, for 1000 tons of cargo. The vessel carried three masts and two funnels.
The machinery was constructed by the Greenock Foundry Co., and consisted of a pair of side-lever engines of 850 nominal h.p., each mounted on a foundation plate cast in one piece with the condenser, and bolted to the keelsons. The two cylinders were 94,5 in. diam. by 104 in. stroke, and developed a total of 3200 indicated h.p. Double slidevalves were used for the steam distribution. The side-levers were of malleable iron, then a novelty; each was 24 ft. long and 7 ft. deep in the centre.129 The cast-iron entablature was supported by four columns of malleable iron, and braced by two oblique struts.
Steam at a pressure of about 25 Ib. per sq. in. was supplied by four return-tube boilers, 22 ft. long, 12 ft. wide and 14 ft. high, two placed forward of the engine-room and two abaft. Each boiler contained 284 brass tubes and six furnaces. The total heating surface was 15,000 sq. ft., and the total grate area 508 sq. ft.128. The boilers were entirely encased in sheet iron; spaced 2 in. from the boilers and dismountable in sections. The coal consumption was about 125 tons per day; the bunkers carried 1500 tons. The paddle-wheels were 36 ft. diam., each with 28 fixed radial floats 11 ft. long and 2 ft. wide, and rotated at 16,5 revs. per min. for the normal speed of 13 knots.
Before the vessel was delivered from Greenock to her base at St. Nazaire in 1864, she steamed 16 statute miles in 61 min., at a speed of 13,7 knots. For her maiden trip, she left Havre on the 15th June 1864; she met heavy weather on the Atlantic, but reached New York in ten days at a mean speed of 13 knots. In 1867 the vessel was converted to twin-screw propulsion, with two compound inverted engines of 500 nominal h.p., each with cylinders 47 in. and 84-5 in. diam. by 36 in. stroke, constructed by Messrs. Schneider et Cie., Creusot. She was the first Atlantic liner to be fitted with twin screws, which increased her speed to 13,75 knots.
Her fuel consumption was reduced; but this was partly due to the installation of surface condensers. The cargo space was, at the same time, increased to 1350 tons.
The «LAFAYETTE» and the «IMPERATRICE EUGENIE» were also converted to screw propulsion, and the latter was renamed the «AMERIQUE.» This vessel was in 1873 lengthened to 393 ft., and thereby increased to 4584 tons. She ran ashore at New Jersey on the 7th January 1877, and it was not until the 10th April that she was refloated and towed to port, and thereafter sold to the shipbreakers.130 In 1887 the «LAFAYETTE» was converted from single to twin-screw propulsion. The «WASHINGTON» was sold in 1899, and broken up at Marseilles.
Principal dimensions of the P.S. «WASHINGTON» (1863) were as follows:-Gross register, 3408 tons; net, 2091 tons; displacement, 5670 tons; length between perps., 345,7 ft., breadth of hull, 43,7 ft.; breadth over paddle boxes, about 70 ft.; depth, 30,2 ft.; mean draught, 20 ft. She and the famous «SCOTIA» of the Cunard Line (also described above) represented the final and finest development in Atlantic paddle steamers, before their clumsy honest old paddles were superseded by the more efficient screw propeller”.
Mas información sobre estos buques se puede encontrar en el libro PICTURE HISTORY OF THE FRENCH LINE, escrito por William H. Miller, Jr.; en el ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS, de 14 de junio de 1864; en el libro TRANS-ATLANTIC PASSENGER SHIPS, PAST AND PRESENT, escrito por E.W. Smith, y en el libro MAIL AND PASSENGER STEAMSHIPS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, de H Parker y F.C. Bowen.
Volveremos con los dos gemelos del WASHINGTON, especialmente con el IMPERATRICE EUGENIE y su increíble botadura, con la crónica de una muerte anunciada en la figura de un reo que soltó las ultimas retenidas del buque.