Page 16: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (May 2022)

Green Ship Technologies

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Back to the Drawing Board

What is Old Can Be

Green Again

By Rik van Hemmen he use of certain technologies is rarely a stand ship, Fulton’s 1814 Demologos, had a paddlewheel that was alone decision. The switch from sail to steam did almost invulnerable to gun ? re.) More signi? cantly, a screw not happen overnight and they actually coexisted propeller is much less sensitive to a seaway and to changes in

T for over a century, where, based on available tech- draft. I saw no reason to use paddlewheels and ignored them nologies, in certain applications steam was more attractive until very recently.

and in other applications sail was more attractive. I started thinking about paddlewheels because of an upcom-

The eventual dominance of screw propellers over paddle ing event. In 2026 we will be celebrating the United States wheels was not even driven by technological considerations, Sesquicentennial (let’s call it USA250 for short). I like a party, but rather by a tug of war between a paddlewheel propelled ves- and it made me think of the 1976 Operation Sail. That was a sel and a screw propelled vessel. This trial was organized by the fun event and maybe we should organize something like it

British Admiralty and occurred in 1845 between two similarly again. I live on a river in striking range of New York City, and sized ships, the screw Rattler and the paddlewheel Alecto. Rat- maybe we could use the next few years to build a local replica tler won and most development money went to screw propel- vessel that could participate in such an event. The river was lers and paddle wheels started their fade into obscurity. famous for three types of vessels. Shrewsbury packets, shal-

It is actually very dif? cult to compare the effectiveness of low draft centerboard schooners that carried people, produce, one against the other. As a matter of fact, many years ago I and oysters to New York City, shallow draft side wheeler pas- came across a 1940’s or 1950’s SNAME paper that performed senger vessels that ran passengers between the river and New a further analysis of paddlewheels that indicated that in cer- York City into the 1920’s, and rum runners based on Seas tain speed and draft ranges articulated paddle wheels are more Bright Skiffs that became the prototypes of today’s modern ef? cient than screw propellers. Articulated paddlewheels are recreational planing power boats. A replica on one of those paddle wheels that allow the blades to stay vertical when they could be a great way to celebrate USA250. pass through the water (think in terms of mounting a Voith A replica schooner initially seemed most attractive since it

Schneider prop as a paddlewheel). touches on the earliest days of the United States and I prefer

However, alternatives like this are not always decided on sailing over anything, but it is very dif? cult to get the ? nancials ef? ciencies alone. In 1845 the British Admiralty particularly to work on a USCG public sailing vessel. I also liked the idea liked propellers because they were harder to disable by gun? re of a rum runner, but once I started to think in terms of actual (a ? awed argument if one considers that the ? rst naval steam designs a “replica” side wheeler became very attractive. I put

Photo courtesy Martin & Ottaway 16 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • May 2022

MR #5 (1-17).indd 16 5/3/2022 11:39:25 AM

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