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New find in Stockholm harbor

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The remains of one of the 18th century’s strangest naval creations seems to have been rediscovered in Stockholm harbor.

Patrick Miller’s ”Experiment of Leith” was sunk here in 1795 as foundation for a jetty. She had been intended to be used in the 1790 war against Russia, but the war was over before she was completed.

The Experiment (that Chapman called "the English sea-spook") was double-hulled, like a catamaran, had five masts and four or five paddle wheels on the centerline that were propelled by muscle power.




A pity she never came to use. Ten years later, Miller got William Symington to make him a steam engine to drive the paddle wheels and history was made.



Edited by Per
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Just found out a few more nice historical tidbits about this vessel.

Miller (one of the owners of the Carron iron works of carronade fame) proposed to King Gustaf of Sweden the building of a 144-gun ship of the line along the lines of the ”Experiment”. 74 m, 242 ft, long, it was this behemoth that was called ”The Sea Ghost”.

Fortunately, the King passed the proposition on to his naval construction expert, F. H. af Chapman.

After making the calculations, af Chapman turned it down flat because the ship could not possible carry the weight of of ordnance and crew, stating a catamaran was only suitable for a one or two-man vessel and ended his recommendation:

”It would be like giving an elephant the shape of a flea for it to be able to jump a 100 times its height straight up in the air. The result would be a very spoilt elephant and no flea.”


As an aside, the King sent Miller a finely crafted golden box as a token of gratitude. The box contained turnip seeds that Miller planted at his estate Dalswinton, just north of Dumfries.

Turnips, now a staple side dish for haggis, are still called Swedes in Scotland and the box now resides in British Museum.



Edited by Per
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