Events from HistoryMayTravel

Events from History: 22 May 1819

The dream of steam-powered transatlantic voyages set sail on May 22nd, 1819, with the departure of the SS Savannah. This American-built marvel wasn’t solely reliant on sails. Fitted with a rudimentary steam engine and paddlewheels, the Savannah became the first steamship to attempt a crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. However, the technology of the time was still in its infancy. The engine’s limited power meant the Savannah relied primarily on its sails for the 29-day journey, only using steam for short bursts at sea and for showboating in European ports. Despite not achieving a continuous steam crossing, the Savannah’s voyage proved the concept’s viability. It paved the way for future advancements in marine steam technology, ultimately leading to the dominance of steamships over sailing vessels for transatlantic travel.

On May 22nd, National Maritime Day is celebrated in recognition of this pioneering voyage.

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