Gold Ribbon Banner
Sunday, August 25, 2019

Turbina ModelFor the great majority of readers of Sea Breezes, the name Turbinia brings to mind the picture of a diminutive craft threading its way at 34 knots through the ships at the June 1897 Naval Review.

But there was a second Turbinia which took to the water in 1904. She was the fourth commercial ship after King Edward (1901) and Queen Alexandra (1902) on the Clyde and The Queen (1903) on the English Channel to be fitted with Parsons Turbines and she was destined for passenger service on Lake Ontario. In fact, Turbinia was the first commercial ship driven by steam turbines to cross the Atlantic. This Turbinia had her brief moment of fame in North America but was soon eclipsed by Victorian and Virginian which in 1905 were placed on the Liverpool – Quebec/Montreal route by the Allan Line. Both incorporated steam turbine engines.

We have to guess what brought several businessmen in Hamilton, Ontario together in the summer of 1903 to form the Lake Ontario Steamship Company with the stated purpose of operating a passenger steamboat connecting their town with Toronto 40 miles north-east across Lake Ontario. The summer and autumn-only route was already well served by two screw steamships of the Hamilton Steamboat Company: Macassa (1888) and Modjeska (1889). While the current ships had passenger certificates for 616 and 861 passengers, respectively, the new ship was to accommodate 2,000. Also, the new ship was to provide three round trips each day compared to two by each of the Hamilton Steamboat Company. This required speed and so the adventurers intended to have their ship driven by steam turbines, a technology still in its infancy for maritime applications. In the summer of 1903, there were just two comparable ships in service: the pioneer King Edward and Queen Alexandra both built by William Denny & Co, Dumbarton, and fitted with Parsons Turbines.

Perhaps we get a clue concerning the motivation of the promoters when we consider the case of John Moodie, president of the new company. Born in Hamilton, he founded the Moodie Knitting Company and joined his father, also John, in floating the Hamilton Cataract Power Co (and so was familiar with turbine technology). Moodie brought the first automobile to Canada, and drove it along the beach at 25 miles per hour. He was an entrepreneur and also what the marketers would term an “early adopter.” So, these qualities combined to produce a leader able to convince others to join him in this adventure. The vice-president was Cyrus Albert Birge, born on a farm but rising to be a self-made man in heavy industry in Hamilton, becoming vice-president of the Steel Company of Canada. He held a number of major directorships including Bank of Hamilton and was described as “brusque and opinionated.” Also, the Hamilton Steamboat Company was very successful paying a nice dividend every year.

At the time of the planning by the new Lake Ontario Steamship Company, Hamilton was the sixth city in Canada with a population (1901) in excess of 52,000. The city was the centre of the fruit district and also contained light and heavy industry. A peculiarity of Hamilton was the natural harbour created by the five-mile sandspit, Burlington Beach, which ran in a north-west – south-east direction. A canal had been cut through the sandspit and was a calling place of the Hamilton – Toronto steamboats since the 1880’s when the Beach became a popular destination for day trippers.

In December 1903, an order was placed with R & W Hawthorne Leslie & Co, Hebbern-on-Tyne for a “full canal size” turbine steamship. “Full canal size” meant a ship of length not much more than 260’ and beam of 33’, that could transit the canal system between the St Lawrence River and Lake Ontario – the St Lawrence Seaway was many decades in the future. At that time larger ships would be sliced at Montreal and then reassembled at a yard on the Great Lakes. In 1903, very few firms had experience with building hulls to accommodate turbine machinery. Hawthorne Leslie had built two turbine-driven ships, HMS Viper (1898) and HMS Velox (1902). Viper achieved 37.1 knots on trials. Hawthorne Leslie was familiar with the Clyde turbines, King Edward and Queen Alexandra and was content to replicate that design and internal layout. Also, the Hawthorne Leslie yard was geographically close to the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company in Newcastle-upon-Tyne where the turbine engines would be built.

The name Turbinia was bestowed on the vessel when launched on 30 Mar 1904 with Miss Agnes Henderson, cousin of John Moodie, doing the honours. The name of the company was now The Turbine Steamship Company. In May 1904 Turbinia underwent trials and was credited with achieving 19.3 knots.

Turbinia’s first master, Abner W Crawford, stood by the ship during construction and then took her away from the Tyne on the first day of June, round the north of Scotland. A call was made at Stornoway for coaling. There she unknowingly picked up two stowaways who hid inside coal sacks and lay for two days on top of a pile of coal before revealing themselves. Turbinia encountered some rough weather but we are assured she acquitted herself well.

Turbinia’s progress was watched with interest and reported widely in the press. On the morning of 10 June, Turbinia passed Cape Race, the south-east tip of Newfoundland. A call was made at Sydney NS on the 11th. It is interesting to note that early on the 14th at Father Point on the St Lawrence River, Turbinia picked up Joseph Dupil one of the Allan Line’s veteran pilots. Also, Andrew Allan, one of the Allan clan who owned and managed the Allan Line operating between the UK and Canada, joined the ship for the trip up to Quebec. The Allan Line was particularly interested in assessing the performance of Turbinia as they expected to take delivery in September of Victorian, their first turbine steamship. On arrival at Quebec on the 15th, Turbinia berthed at the Allan-Rae wharf. She took on provisions and continued on to Montreal, arriving the next day. Once through the canal system, she was dry-docked at Kingston, ON. Undocking on 19 June, Turbinia sailed over to her homeport, Hamilton. She showed the flag at Toronto on Wed 29 June and the following day started her Hamilton-Toronto service. Turbinia’s arrival on Lake Ontario was heralded by the Montreal Gazette as “a fresh epoch in the history of the mercantile marine.”

Turbina ModelTurbinia, with official number 112201, was issued with a passenger certificate for 2,000 when sailing “coastal” ie close to the shore, and 1,500 for the Hamilton-Toronto route.

In profile, Turbinia bears a strong resemblance to the pioneer Clyde turbine steamship King Edward. Both had the same length at 250’, though Turbinia had an extra 3’ in beam. The arrangement of the lower and main decks were almost identical for the two ships. Forward on the lower deck was accommodation for 12 seamen, eight firemen with separate mess rooms and an unspecified number of stewards. Next came individual cabins for officers. Then side bunkers and two single-ended Scotch boilers. Immediately aft of the boiler space were three turbines: the center high pressure turbine flanked by low pressure turbines and condensers. The lower deck aft contained the dining saloon accessed by a stairway from the main deck and served by a pantry (to starboard) and a galley (to port) Natural light reached the dining saloon through 10” diameter sidelights. The ship was lit throughout by electricity.

Right forward on the main deck we find washrooms for seamen and firemen. The space between the washrooms and the boiler casing was a steel deck used for freight with shell doors providing access. Aft of the engine space were the shell doors for access by passengers who entered an open area with the bar and tearoom (to starboard), toilets (to port) and a stairway down to the dining saloon and a stairway up to the “entrance hall.” The remainder of the main deck was given over to a saloon furnished in polished mahogany and laid out in classic Clyde fashion with settees forming ten bays and illuminated by large rectangular windows.

On the upper decks, the Canadian influence is more evident – though the structure was of steel rather than the more typical wood. The upper or promenade deck extended to the bow with its solid bulwark, a standard feature on the Great Lakes. Forward there was an inset deck shelter plus two cabins which presumably could be hired for the trip. Aft of the funnels was a second deck house grandly dubbed the “Entrance Hall” with purser’s office and a smoke room. Access to the entrance hall from the main deck was up a broad stairway with a landing dividing to port and starboard. (The hall must have been very congested on busy and/or inclement days). These deck houses place Turbinia ahead of her Clyde contemporaries.

The full-width hurricane deck extended from forward of the bridge, providing a prized viewing vantage point, right aft to the stern. While this provided shelter for the promenade deck below it also made her very tender since four 22’ steel lifeboats plus two workboats were placed on this deck. The hurricane deck contained a wheelhouse with curved front typical of the Great Lake steamships and which bore the ship’s name. The wheelhouse connected to a deckhouse with accommodation for the captain. Above the wheelhouse was placed a canvas-fronted curved bridge deck with a second wheel, a search light and engine room and docking telegraphs.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - February 2015 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Boudicca

Most Popular

  • Lifeboat Withdrawn After Some Crew Stood Down +

  • An Unexpected Job in Cuba +

  • Test Spells The End of Paper Bills of Lading +

  • MOL Links with Russian Uni for Crew Training +

  • Facility Exports First Cargo of Propane to Japan +

  • 1
  • 2

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • Two Rescued by Lifeboat +

    Two Rescued by Lifeboat TWO local fishermen were rescued after their fishing vessel caught fire off Land’s End on the afternoon of July 16. Read More
  • Two Gulf Tankers Set on Fire in Attacks +

    Kokuka Courageous Two loaded tankers were set on fire after being attacked with limpet mines in international waters in the Gulf of Read More
  • Lifeboat Withdrawn After Some Crew Stood Down +

    Peterhead Lifeboat Peterhead lifeboat has been taken out of action by the RNLI. Read More
  • Test Spells The End of Paper Bills of Lading +

    CargoX Demo It is possible to stop using the paper Bill of Lading according to a test of CargoX’s blockchain-based Smart Bill Read More
  • New Crane Lifts Business Growth +

    Hull Port A new £3.5mn hybrid Liebherr crane has been delivered to Associated British Ports (ABP) for operation at Hull to support Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Terminal Being Made 'Big Ship Ready' for 2021 +

    Terminal Being Made Big Ship Ready WORK has started on the expansion of Seattle’s Terminal 5 so it can handle container ships of up to 18,000 Read More
  • Record Set by Largest US Ship for Hawaii Service +

    Lurline The largest combination container, roll-on, roll-off ship ever built in the United States was formerly named in a ceremony at Read More
  • $293mn for Port Projects +

    Long Beach port The United States is to invest $292.7mn in the country’s ports through a new Port Infrastructure Development Programme. Read More
  • Facility Exports First Cargo of Propane to Japan +

    Sumire Gas The first marine export facility for propane in Canada has been officially opened. Read More
  • Changes in Tolls for Using Panama Canal +

    MSC Pohlin The Panama Canal plans to modify its tolls structure for all types of ships “to better serve the global maritime Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Line Adds Automated Power Kite to Propulsion +

    Airseas The Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen KK (K Line) aims to cut ship greenhouse gas emissions with automated power kites. Read More
  • ONE Express to North Sea and Baltic +

    ONE Apus The Japanese shipping line Ocean Network Express (ONE) was due to start an enhanced North Sea Baltic Service with Russia Read More
  • MOL Links with Russian Uni for Crew Training +

    Makarov University The Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Russian university on co-operation Read More
  • “Prelude” Makes its Debut With First LNG Cargo +

    Prelude The first shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has left Shell’s floating LNG facility Prelude some 475kms north-east of Broome Read More
  • Special Navigating System to be Fitted to VLCCs +

    AR Nav Following two-ship trials, augmented reality (AR) navigation systems are to be installed on 21 very large crude oil carriers (VLCCs) Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • Scorpene Sub Snags +

    INS Khanderi indian News The troubled Scorpene class submarine program hit another snag in June. Read More
  • US Navy’s Frigate Program Passes Significant Hurdle +

    USS Minneapolis-St Paul US News The US Navy has unveiled its plans for the purchase of a new frigate known as FFG(X). Read More
  • Fourth Dreadnought Named HMS “King George VI” +

    Dreadnought Class UK News The fourth member of the new Dreadnought class of nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines will bear the name Read More
  • US Navy Orders Flight II Landing Platform Dock +

    LDP30 American News The contract for the construction of LPD30, the first Flight II Landing Platform Dock of the San Antonio Read More
  • US Navy Seeks Faster Ship Delivery +

    FFGX Rendering American News The future frigate program for the US Navy is getting fully underway and some idea of the urgency Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Fragile Future for Calmac +

    Isle of Arran TMore and more, I am reading reports that say the media, and the public too, are well aware of the Read More
  • Oscar Goes to Italy +

    Oscar Wilde Irish Continental Group has entered into a bareboat hire purchase agreement for the sale of its 1987-built Oscar Wilde to Read More
  • CalMac Heritage +

    Columba I include a fine poster and artist’s image of the famed Macbrayne paddler Columba. Read More
  • Russian Adventure +

    Ocean Adventurer To the North East Coast and arriving at Aberdeen for the first time for many months, I witnessed a passenger Read More
  • Windemere Jetties +

    Osprey and Branksome Last month I commented on the new setting of the classic collection of mainly steam boats held at Windermere. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • The Green Band of Marstal +

    Bessie Ellen The Danish Maritime Museum had the schooner Bonavista built on the island of Aero at Marstal and this year they Read More
  • Norweigan National Day +

    Thorodd I was in Montrose on the Norwegian National Day, 17 May, when its independent constitution from Sweden was confirmed in Read More
  • Port of Aberdeen Fifty Years On +

    Aberdeen Harbour Extension Project When I first arrived in Aberdeen in 1968, I couldn’t believe my luck. Read More
  • Thames Tributary Barges +

    Lady of the Lea Most of the rivers flowing into the Thames had their own barge type. Read More
  • Dry Rot and Dry Dock +

    HMS Victory For some time Victory, the 110gun ship of the line, has had trouble with dry rot and is in danger Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • President Opens ‘Largest UK Ship Simulation Centre’ +

    Sir Michael Bibby With the training of seafarers being so important to safety at sea, and in particular navigation equipment and bridge procedures, Read More
  • Hands-Free Mooring at St Lawrence Seaway +

    St Lawrence Seaway I feel there are probably many readers, like me, who feel a shiver down their spine when they think of Read More
  • Flying the Flag on Merchant Navy Day +

    Red Ensign For more than 35 years, it has been my immense privilege to be a local Isle of Man committee member Read More
  • Lifeline Cash for “Waverley” Agreed +

    Waverley The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS) has announced that it will provide immediate funding to support efforts to “Save The Read More
  • Viking Glory Celebrates Keel Laying +

    Front Altair The construction of Viking Glory is proceeding on schedule. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Billionaire Arthur Blank has his own Dreamboat +

    Billionaire Arthur Blank's Dreamboat ARTHUR BLANK helped create the American home improvement store chain, Home Depot, and it seems that now, his new fl Read More
  • Boudicca Pays Tribute to D-Day Veterans +

    Boudicca Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines were proud to have played its part in hosting 250 D-Day veterans. Read More
  • Captain of a Modern Passenger Carrying Sail Ship +

    Sea Cloud 2 If you have ever wondered what qualities a Captain of a cruise vessel might need to have listed on his Read More
  • Every Ash Cloud Has A Silver Lining +

    The ash cloud crisis continues to cause uncertainty as we see sporadic closures of airspace and cancelled flights, and this Read More
  • Damen Group Superyachts +

    Amels With 25 projects underway, business is booming for Amels, the Dutch luxury yacht builder. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

Cuba

An Unexpected Job in Cuba

In 1948, I joined the MV Yamaska Park as an EDH and, over the first few days aboard, I became Read More
Suez Canal

The Creation of the Suez Canal - Part Two

IAt the end of 1858, the company’s Works Committee convened for the first time. It included an impressive assembly of Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Teeswood

The Teeswood Tragedy

The British steamer Teeswood was launched in May 1915 at the Harkness & Son Shipyard of Middlesbrough and went into Read More
Gudvangen

From Fjords to Fiji

On the morning of 9 October 2014, two patrol boats from the Spanish Maritime Service and Public Safety Unit were Read More
  • 1
  • 2