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Savannah

SAVANNAH

SAVANNAH. In May and June 1819, the SS Savannah became the first steam-powered ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The Savannah was the idea of steamboat captain Moses Rogers, who convinced Savannah, Georgia, entrepreneurs to back the venture. The Speedwell Iron Works at Morristown, New Jersey, built the engine.

The Savannah was a 100-foot-long packet ship fitted with steam boilers, a seventeen-foot smokestack, and paddle wheels that could be collapsed and taken on deck in case of a storm. The Savannah also had three masts and full sail rigging in case of a boiler malfunction.

Rogers took the ship to sea on 22 May 1819. It reached England in twenty-nine days without incident. While the Savannah had spent much of its time under sail, it had proved such a design could safely cross an ocean. However, not until 1838 did anyone attempt another steam crossing.

The Savannah spawned several namesakes: a U.S. Navy cruiser that served in World War II; an oiler used from 1970 to 1995; and, in 1959, the first nuclear-powered merchant ship.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Braynard, Frank O. Famous American Ships. New York: Hastings House, 1978.

Historic Speedwell. Homepage at http://www.Speedwell.org.

Philip, Cynthia Owen. Robert Fulton: A Biography. New York: Watts, 1955.

R. StevenJones

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