Laying the First Transatlantic Cable

Updated February 23, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

The Question:

I am looking for the name of the 700 foot long ship that laid the first transatlantic cable connecting Europe with North America in 1866. They also say the ship was haunted by a young boy. What is the name of this ship?

The Answer:

Launched in 1858, the magnificent steamship was first known as the Leviathan, and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The largest ship in the world at the time, she weighed 18,000 tons; was 700 feet long, and 85 feet wide. Used for the trade between Great Britain, Australia, and the Far East, the Leviathan could carry 4,000 passengers and go great distances without stopping to refuel. Later the Great Eastern Navigation Company renamed her Great Eastern. Despite her huge capacity, the Great Eastern was a financial failure and by 1864 she was docked.

However, the Great Eastern had a second life as a cable-laying ship. Between July 13 and July 27, 1866, the crew of the Great Eastern, under the command of Captain James Anderson, laid 1,686 nautical miles of electric communications cable between Valencia (or Valentia), Ireland, and Heart's Content, Newfoundland. Historians have said the endeavor was the Victorian equivalent of the Apollo space program.

Cyrus W. Field, an investor and organizer of the project, sent the following message after the cable had been secured: "We arrived here at nine o'clock this morning. All well. Thank God, the cable is laid, and is in perfect working order."

The first news message sent on the cable - the signing of the peace agreement ending the war between Prussia and Austria - soon followed. The cable was then open for commercial business at a cost of $1 per letter, payable in gold, pretty steep at a time when the average laborer might earn $20 per month.

The Great Eastern was permanently docked at Liverpool in 1872. She rusted away until she was scrapped in 1889. Even then, no longer steamship was built until 1899. No steamship that was as large in bulk appeared until 1906.

Check out this link for more facts and information about other famous vessels.

-The Fact Monster

Sources +
See also: