Raising Sunken Vesselsby@scientificamerican

Raising Sunken Vessels

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An experiment recently took place in the East India Dock Basin, Blackwall, London, by permission of Mr. J. L. du Plat Taylor, the secretary of the Dock Company, for the purpose of testing and illustrating the mode of raising sunken ships by means of the apparatus patented by Mr. William Atkinson, naval engineer, of Sheffield. The machinery employed consists of the necessary number and size, according to the power required, of oval or egg-shaped buoys constructed of sheet iron, having an internal valve of a simple and effective character. Captain Hales Dutton, the dock master, who assisted during the operations, had placed his small yacht at the inventor's service for the occasion. The vessel was moored in the basin, and a set of four buoys were attached to it, one on each side near the bow and the stern. Air was supplied from a pump on the quay by a pipe communicating with a small copper globe resting on the deck of the vessel, and from which place proceeded four other flexible tubes, one to each buoy, thus distributing the air to each one equally. The vessel being flooded and in a sinking condition, the buoys were attached and the valves opened; they rapidly filled with water, and the vessel immediately sank in about 30 feet. Upon the first attempt an air chamber in the stern had been lost sight of, causing the vessel to come up to the surface stern uppermost; this being rectified, the vessel was again sent to the bottom, and allowed to remain a short time to allow her to settle down. When the order was given to work the pump, the vessel was brought to the surface, perfectly level, in about three minutes. The apparatus used, although only models, and on a comparatively diminutive scale (the buoys measuring 3 feet 4 inches in height and 2 feet 6 inches in diameter), was estimated to be capable of lifting a weight of nearly 20 tons, and that it needed, as represented by the patentee, only a corresponding increase in the lifting power to deal successfully with vessels of any tonnage.
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