Saturday, April 19, 2008
Ghost Ship The Great Eastern
Another famous Ghost Ship is The Great Eastern.It's only successful venture was the part it played in laying the Trans Atlantic Cable.It was considered cursed from the beginning.
The Great Eastern was the Titanic of its day. Built in 1857, at 100,000 tons it was six times larger than any ship ever built and, like the Titanic, seemed destined for trouble.
The double hull was unique but difficult to build. Construction men fell to their death while working at deadly heights. Other gruesome accidents took the lives of other workers.Construction of such a massive ship involved millions of hand-driven rivets. An estimated 1,000 workers were hired to comprise 200 “rivet gangs” to get the job done. Because someone small had to squeeze inside the narrow space between the double hulls, young “bash boys” were hired to do this work.
These boys spent 12-hour days in the space between the hulls, enduring the deafening thunder of the riveters’ hammers. After construction was completed, some of the men working as riveters could not be found. There were rumors that they had been accidentally sealed into the hull of the ship.This was soon forgotten.
When its builders tried to launch it on January 30, 1858, it was so heavy that it jammed the launch mechanism and stopped dead.
Even though it was eventually put afloat, it lay in harbor for about a year because the money had run out to finish it. The Great Eastern was then bought by the Great Ship Company, which finished it and put it out to sea.
During its sea trials, a huge ventilator explosion killed at least one man and scalded several others with boiling water.
One month later, its builder, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, died of a stroke.
Despite its size, the cursed ship never carried a full complement of passengers, not even on its maiden voyage.
On her fourth voyage, it was badly damaged in a storm, necessitating costly repairs.
In 1862, while carrying its record number of passengers - 1,500 - it sailed over an uncharted area and tore open its bottom... saved from sinking only by its double hull.
On several occasions, a strange hammering noise of an unknown source could be heard far below decks. The crew said it could be heard even above the gale of a storm and sometimes woke sailors from their sleep.
The ship continued to lose money for its owners, but was successful in helping lay a transatlantic cable in 1865. Better ships built for the purpose soon replaced the Great Eastern, however, and for 12 years it sat rusting until it was eventually sold for scrap metal.
As it was being taken apart, the source of the ship's bad luck, perhaps (and the phantom hammering), was discovered: within the double hull was the skeleton of the master shipwright who had mysteriously disappeared during construction