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Shipping Wonders of the World

Part 16

Part 16 of Shipping Wonders of the World was published on Tuesday 26th May 1936.

It included a centre photogravure supplement featuring the RMS Queen Mary, which formed part of the article on Where the Queen Mary Was Built.

The Cover

This week’s cover shows the Cunard White Star RMS Queen Mary in the early days of her construction when she was in the fitting-out basin at John Brown’s Yard at Clydebank.

The "Joseph Conrad" leaving Sydney

Contents of Part 16

The Mighty Amazon

Floating Aerodromes

The Biggest Sailing Ship of Her Time

Where the Queen Mary Was Built

The Queen Mary (photogravure supplement)

The Baltic Coastwise Tanker

The Instruments of Navigation

The Ship That Broke Her Back

The Wheelhouse of the Queen Mary

The Queen Mary was the first ship to be fitted with twin steering wheels in the wheelhouse; should anything go wrong with one set a change over can be made in a few moments.

The second of the three diagrams shows how the man-power at the wheel is increased stage by stage until the gigantic hydraulic rams move the 140 tons rudder. By the aid of the Sperry Gyro pilot the Queen Mary can also be steered, when set on a course, without a helmsman. The Sperry Gyro pilot will keep the ship’s head on that course in calm or storm.

The third diagram shows the features of the crow’s-nest. Reached by climbing 110 steps inside the hollow steel foremast, the nest, which is 130 feet above the water-line, has a glass weather screen.

The diagrams are by G H Davis.

(page 500)

Table of Aircraft Carriers

This interesting table is reproduced from page 488. It lists all the carriers in the Royal Navy, including the Ark Royal, which had been laid down in the preceding year. All these carriers are described and or illustrated in the article.

Floating Aerodromes

This chapter discusses the evolution of the aircraft carrier, which, although it has been a unit of the Royal Navy for more then twenty years, is still an experiment. The article is by Hector Bywater, and is the fifth in the series The Navy Goes to Work.

(pages 486-490)

PERSONNEL OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, in HMS Furious. A Wing Commander is responsible, under the captain of the ship, for all flying work in an aircraft carrier. Each plane is constantly in touch by wireless telegraphy with the ship and with the leading machine of its squadron. When a flight is finished the carrier is steamed at very high speed, and from a point high up in the bows a jet of white vapour is poured out. The ship’s helm is moved until the vapour streams down the deck in line with the white painted band running fore and aft. A pilot then knows that the ship is running dead into the wind, and, at a signal from the Wing Commander, lands his plane on the stern of the carrier.

(Page 486)

The Queen Mary: photogravure supplement

JOHN BROWN’S GREATEST TRIUMPH, the 80,000 tons RMS Cunard White Star liner, Queen Mary, in the fitting-out basin at Clydebank. The fitting-out basin is for John Brown’s own use, and is equipped with cranes lifted up to 150 tons and able to take the largest ships. It is known as the Clydebank Tidal Basin, and has an area of over five and a half acres, is 900 feet long by more than 300 feet wide. It has a minimum depth, at low water on ordinary spring tides, of 30 feet.

(page 499)

Floating Aerodromes - 2

BECAUSE OF HER ODD APPEARANCE, HMS FURIOUS is often referred to as “Noah’s Ark” or “the Covered Wagon”. Above the hull proper her sides are flared out to give additional width to the flight deck, 75 feet above the water. For half its length the flight deck is fenced with palisades to prevent aircraft skidding overboard. At the extreme forward end can be seen the telescopic bridge and control station, which can be lowered until its top is flush with the deck. In this structure the captain and senior flying officer stake up their posts when flying is in progress.


(page 490)

The Queen Mary’s Bridge

An interesting feature of the Queen Mary’s bridge is a slot that runs to port and starboard of the wheelhouse to the wing houses. This slot consists of a curved strip of iron supported out beyond the front upper edge of the bridge. It has been designed to create a screen of high-pressure air to protect the bridge staff against the rush of air. The wind strikes the front of the bridge and passes through the slot, and the narrowing nozzle increases the speed of air to such an extent that an invisible screen is formed along the greater part of the bridge. So strong is the pressure of air thus created that not only wind but also rain and snow are deflected over the heads of those on the navigating bridge. The bridge of the Queen Mary is also notable for the twelve feet overhang which projects beyond the sides of the ship. This makes it possible for the navigating staff to see the whole length of the ship from either the port or starboard wing house.

(Page 501)

THE HULL OF THE GREAT REPUBLIC WAS OF IMMENSE STRENGTH. This was necessary if such a length of ship were to be driven through heavy seas with only a wooden backbone, and a good deal of iron lattice work was embodied in the hull. To reduce the number of men as much as possible, the most economical rig had to be given her, and that of a four-masted barque was chosen. For the same purpose McKay fitted the double topsails invented by Captain R B Forbes. The Great Republic had 15,653 running yards of canvas, and to permit it to be handled, as well as to work the bilge pumps, a 15 hp steam engine was placed on deck. The Great Republic was designed to have a registered tonnage of 4,555 on a length of 335 feet, a beam of 53 feet, and a depth of 38 feet. She had four decks, the uppermost (spar) deck being flush with the covering board in a manner later common with steamers, but novel in those days with sailing ships.

(page 494)

Where The Queen Mary Was Built

Famous for having built ocean greyhounds and the world’s largest battle cruiser, John Brown’s yard at Clydebank reached the peak of its achievement with the construction of the Cunard White Star RMS Queen Mary. The chapter is written by Frank Bowen. The Queen Mary is the logical successor of a line of famous ships built at Clydebank. Among the great ocean-going liners built there you have only to recall the Lusitania, the Aquitania, and the Empress of Britain. Famous warships include the world’s largest, HMS Hood (42,000 tons), HMS Repulse, and HMS Barham. Frank Bowen not only tells us something of the history of John Brown’s achievements, but also gives interesting information about the preparations that were made for the building and the launching of the Queen Mary. You can read more on the Queen Mary in part 1. The article incorporates a photogravure supplement featuring more pictures of the Queen Mary, and these are shown below.

(pages 495-502)

The Mighty Amazon

Concluded from part 15

(Page 485)

HMS "Furious"

Laid Down








No of












































Ark Royal







HMS "Furious"

The Biggest Sailing Ship of Her Time

Although she did not achieve the success which was expected of her, the Great Republic is generally regarded as the masterpiece of her famous builder, Donald McKay. The article is by Frank Bowen, and is the sixth article in the series Speed Under Sail.

(pages 491-494)

The "Great Republic"The "Queen Mary" in the fitting-out basin at ClydebankHMS "Hood"

The World’s Largest Battle Cruiser

HMS Hood was built by John Brown & Co at Clydebank. She was begun on September 1, 1916, launched on August 22, 1918, and completed on March 5, 1920. She has a displacement tonnage of 42,000, an overall length of 860 ft 7 in, a beam (to outside of bulges) of 105 ft

2½ in, and a maximum draught of 31½ feet. HMS Hood has a complement of 1,341 and cost about £6,000,000 - or £145 per ton - to build.

(Page 498)

The wheelhouse of the "Queen Mary"The stern of the "Queen Mary" in the King George V Graving Dock, Southampton

The Queen Mary in the King George V Graving Dock at Southampton, showing her propellers

When the Queen Mary came to Southampton from the Clyde, she had her own officers and crew on board, but she was not then owned by the Cunard White Star, and did not become its property until her trials were completed. Until then she was under the control of John Brown & Co, and on her voyage from the Clyde flew the John Brown house flag. It is on the trial trips of any ship that she must generally be accepted or rejected by her owners.

(Page 502)

The Baltic Coastwise Tanker

IN the Baltic Sea the need for rapid transportation of crude and refined oil has been responsible for the building of a number of interesting little ships. They have their counterparts elsewhere, but because of ice conditions in the Baltic it is necessary for them to have a specially reinforced fore end with an ice-breaking stem. This is clearly shown in the drawing below.

The ship illustrated is the Brannaren, built at Malmo and completed in September, 1933, for the Swedish Navy. Since then she has been released for ordinary work. She has a deadweight tonnage of 698 and a gross tonnage of 552. Her dimensions are 168 feet overall, with a beam of 29 feet and a draught of 12 ft 5 in. When loaded with oil down to 11 ft 10 in she has a speed of about 10, knots. She is propelled by a 2-cycle diesel engine with four cylinders 13.4 in diameter by 22.4 in stroke, giving a power of 522 hp at 220 revolutions per minute.

The machinery is aft and, in conformity with modern practice, so is most of the accommodation. A large navigating bridge is at the forward end of the poop. The plan clearly shows the four double oil tanks made by divisions at fore and aft bulkheads. The small hatches leading to the tanks are also indicated, as is the pipe-line system on the deck and the pump room in which are situated the powerful steam driven pumps for handling the cargo. The double line of bulkheads at the forward and aft end of the tanks are known as cofferdams.

At the forward end of the poop there is a hold for the carriage of ordinary cargo and this is served by a three-tons derrick operated by a steam winch. Vessels of this kind are strongly constructed and are capable of standing up to almost any weather.

Like all tankers the Brannaren has many of the technical attributes of a barge with machinery aft. In fact, in the earlier days of the oil industry it was customary to carry a good deal of oil coastwise and up rivers by barge. The dumb barges could be left alongside their discharging pier while the tug went elsewhere. As the business has developed and the necessity for a quick turn round has become greater, it is more convenient that the machinery propelling the barge should be in the barge itself - hence the modern coastwise tanker. Because of her naval origin, the Brannaren represents the coastal tanker de luxe and was intended mainly for looking after the Swedish fleet at sea. A shortage of small tankers shortly after the time of her completion made it desirable, however, to release her for ordinary mercantile work, and on this she has been employed practically ever since. Ships of this kind will be found working out of ports all over the world with modifications due to local weather conditions. The Brannaren is representative of the largest and most seaworthy kind of coastwise tanker. Some of the ships are nothing more nor less than shallow-draught barges with an engine in the stern.

 This is the eleventh article in the series on Merchant Ship Types.

(Page 503)

The Baltic Coastwise Tanker, the BrannarenThe German four-masted barque "Padua"

The Instruments of Navigation

To conduct a ship safely across the high seas to a distant port calls for skill of the highest order and an intimate knowledge of the science of navigation. This chapter, written by Lieut.-Com. R T Gould, a retired navigating officer of the Royal Navy, gives a clear account of the instruments required. Amongst those illustrated and described are the sextant, the wire-sounding machine, the marine chronometer, the standard magnetic compass, the hand-lead, the echo-sounding machine, the hand-log, adjusting the ship’s compass, the gyro-compass, and the chart house.

(Pages 504-514)

The Navigation of a Ship (left) is often a mysterious and complicated affair to the landsman. He regards it as something of a miracle that a vessel can leave port and, after sailing for perhaps thousands of miles without sighting land, reach her destination safely on the

other side of the world. The methods and instruments of navigation are, however, few and simple. Given a chart, a compass, a log and lead, a sextant and a chronometer, a navigator can take his ship across the world and home again. The picture shows the German four-masted barque Padua (2,600 tons) after having sailed from Australia, a distance of some 11,000 miles, to Lundy Island, whence she is being towed up to Avonmouth and the port of Bristol.

(page 504)

A Standard Magnetic Compass Mounted in a Binnacle

 On top of the compass bowl is the “azimuth mirror” for taking bearings. The two large spheres are of soft iron and partly correct the ship’s “induced” magnetism. This induced magnetism is from the Earth’s magnetic force which causes temporary magnetism in the soft iron portions of the hull. In the binnacle itself are small permanent magnets, which counteract “permanent” magnetism. An iron ship, while being hammered on the stocks, becomes a permanent magnet just as a poker can be magnetized by holding it approximately N and S and tapping it with a hammer.

The photograph is attributed to Henry Hughes & Sons Ltd.

(Page 509)

a standard magnetic compass

The Ship That Broke Her Back

The British Navy, with 120 ships and thousands of men, blocked the harbour at Ostend. By chance, a German submarine, in attempting to sink the British cargo boat Araby, achieved a similar result at Boulogne. You can read more about this salvage in chapter XIII of David Masters’ book The Wonders of Salvage. This article is by David Masters and is the fifth in the series Dramas of Salvage. The article concludes in part 17.

(Pages 515-516)

The British steamer "Araby" unwittingly blocking the entrance to Boulogne Harbour

Fate Plays A Hand

The British steamer, Araby, which in September 1916 unwittingly caused the blocking of Boulogne Harbour. Owned by D McIver Son & Co Ltd of Liverpool, she had a gross tonnage of 3,303, was 360 feet long, and had a beam of 48 feet. In escaping from the attack of a German submarine, the vessel ran aground. While tugs were towing her into Boulogne Harbour, the hawsers broke, and the Araby, her steering-gear out of order, was left at the mercy of the sea. A strong tide carried her across the mouth of the inner harbour, so that her now was wedged against one quay and her stern almost touched the other. As the tide dropped, the strain on the ship’s keel was so great that her back began to give. When, finally, it broke, the Araby settled down into the channel leading into the inner harbour, and prevented ships from entering or leaving.

(Page 515)