SHIPS OF THE CENTURY
In 1903, Dr. Rudolph Diesel, working with French engineers Adrian
Bochet and Frederic Dyckhoff had used a small diesel engine to
power a canal boat. It was the first application of a diesel
for marine propulsion.
That same year, diesel engines for the propulsion of larger vessels
were already being pioneered in Russia. Nobel Bros. had used
diesel engine propulsion in the 244 ft 6 in x 31 ft 9 in Wandal.
The triple-screw vessel, which operated on the Volga River in
Russia, was powered by three triple-cylinder diesel engines,
each developing a 120 hp at 240 rev/min.
November 4, 1911 ushered in a new era. That day the 6,800 dwt
Selandia, the first oceangoing diesel engine-powered ship, was
launched at Burmeister & Wain, Shipyard in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Delivered in February 1912, the 370 ft x 53 ft Selandia was one
of three such ships ordered by the Danish trading firm East Asiatic
Company for service between Scandinavia, Genoa, Italy, and Bangkok,
Propulsion power was supplied by two eight-cylinder, four-cycle,
1,250 hp diesel engines in a twin-screw arrangement. The engines
had both crossheads and piston rods.
Built for cargo
and passenger carriage, the Selandia had "very ample and
rather luxurious" cabins for 20 first class passengers-one-berth
cabins of "exceptional size, with toilet and bath for every
two cabins-and an extra feature is the servants' rooms, arranged
in connection with private cabins."
Reporting on the sea trials
of the Selandia in its April 1912 issue, International Marine
Engineering said, "the future of the big motor ship is practically
assured." After official acceptance tests, Burmeister &
Wain, Shipyard, Copenhagen, was "inundated with orders for
similar vessels from steamship owners who were aboard, and now
has enough marine oil [vessel] contracts on hand to keep them
busy for about three years."
That same year, manufacturers M.A.N., Messrs. Sulzer Bros., Krupp's
Germania Yards, Vickers Sons & Maxim, and Messrs. Carels
Freres were already busy testing high-power two-stroke marine
engines, with as much as 2,000 hp per cylinder.
Commenting on the tests, Dr. Diesel said, "If, as seems
probable, these tests give satifactory results, the era of very
large Diesel engines has come."