SS Great Eastern

British sailing steamship

The SS Great Eastern (Nicknamed: Leviathan, or Great Babe) was a British ship built during the Victorian Era, which held the title of the largest passenger ship in the world for 4 decades (1859-99).

Great Eastern (1858) anchored at Liverpool when used for advertising Lewis' Department Store, Liverpool RMG P10569.tiff
Great Eastern (1858) anchored at Liverpool when used for advertising Lewis's Department Store, Liverpool.
United Kingdom
Name: Great Eastern
Port of registry: Liverpool, UK
Ordered: 1853
Builder: J. Scott Russell & Co., Millwall
Laid down: 1 May 1854
Launched: 31 January 1858
Completed: August 1859
Maiden voyage: 30 August 1859
In service: 1859
Out of service: 1889
Struck: 1889
Homeport: Liverpool
  • The Great Ship,
  • Leviathan (Original name),
  • Great Babe (As Brunel called her)
Fate: Scrapped 1889–90
Notes: Struck rocks on 27 August 1862. No bigger ship in all respects until 1913.
General characteristics
Type: Passenger ship
Tonnage: 18,915 GRT[1]
Displacement: 32,160 tons
Length: 692 ft (211 m)
Beam: 82 ft (25 m)
Decks: 4 decks
Propulsion: Total power estimated at 8,000 hp (6,000 kW). Rectangular boilers[2]
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)[3]
Boats & landing
craft carried:
18 lifeboats; after 1860 20 lifeboats
Capacity: 4,000 passengers
Complement: 418
Remote control model of the Great Eastern (1/150 scale)
Isambard Kingdom Brunel at the Launching of the SS Great Eastern (sometimes called Leviathan) with John Scott Russell and Lord Derby.

It was designed by the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, famous for having designed bridges such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge or the Maidenhead Railway Bridge, it was 211 meters long, had a capacity of 4,000 passengers, 17,915 gross tons and was propelled by sail masts, lateral blades and a screw propeller.


  1. Dawson, Philip S. (2005). The Liner. Chrysalis Books. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-85177-938-6.
  2. Image:Oscillating engine, and boilers, of Great Eastern - gteast.gif224kB.png
  3. "Ocean Record Breaking". New York Times. 7 July 1895.

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