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Ships in the steam age

Discover how steam gradually took over from sail.  Learn why different types of steamships evolved for different trades, and how steam and later diesel engines allowed highly specialised ship types to develop
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The early steamships

The development of the steam ship was one of the most important events in shipping history, but it did not happen overnight. Discover how the problems were overcome
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 The ocean liner develops

Crossing the Atlantic offered a major challenge to the operators of steam ship services in developing ships to withstand the weather, but the rewards for success were considerable.
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How the tramp steamer evolved

For steam to challenge sail in the movement of low-value bulk cargoes, many problems had to be overcome. Learn how as early as the 1850s innovative shipbuilders and coal owners developed the prototype for the tramp steamer.
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 The rise of the cargo liner

Regular cargo services by steam ship expanded cautiously at first, from cross channel routes to those serving the Baltic or Mediterranean.
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The oil tanker emerges

To carry oil efficiently, a whole new breed of ship needed to be developed, the oil tanker. Find out about its special features
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 Harbour duties

The steam engine allowed a variety of specialised craft to develop, including many that would assist ships to get in and out of harbour more safely. Learn how steam was applied to such activities as assisting sailing ships, deepening channels and maintaining navigational marks.
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Fishing by steam

The advent of steam made fishing more productive, allowing fishing vessels to be more efficient and to cover greater distances in order to exploit new fishing grounds. Consider some of the fishing methods used, and the effect they have had on fish stocks.
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