How much coal could a Blockade Ship carry?

Lisa Murphy

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Anthracite coal (the good stuff!)

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USS Susquehanna image from Wikipedia

I'm looking for a little expert advice on how much coal the Blockader USS Susquehanna was able to carry. According to Wikipedia she was 2,450 long tons. I know that the HMS Warrior (a British 40-gun steam-powered armored frigate, 1860) weighed 9,137 long tons and could carry 850 tons of coal. Using this a rough proportional gauge, I calculate that the USS Susquehanna could have reasonably carried about 220 tons. Does this sound about right to you folks? Does anyone know the actual number of tons she could carry?

There is a marvelous chapter, (Ch 9 "Coaling the Gunboats" ) in the book From Cape Charles to Cape Fear: The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron During the Civil War by Robert M. Browning in which he says:

"By November 1862, the average consumption was 1,200 tons a month and each vessel took an average of 140 tons each time she went to Beaufort." [Beaufort being one of the coaling stations.]

So this implies a lot less than I calculate.

 

bdtex

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Interesting topic in general. Supply logistics is not glamorous, but stuff like you brought up is mind-boggling. I guess they had coal barges back then to transport it on the rivers and to resupply ships in port.
 

Story

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Lisa Murphy

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WOW! That's a heck of a lot of coal!
Per Robert M. Browning (From Cape Charles to Cape Fear: The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron During the Civil War ,as quoted above) : "By the winter-spring of 1862-63, the vessels coaling from the colliers in the Chesapeake used about 500 tons of coal a week. The navy kept colliers at Hampton Roads, Yorktown, and Newport News. In all, about 1,500 to 2,000 tone of coal were kept on hand to avoid shortages."

So... the Susquehanna could practically clean the place out in 2 coalings! Gees. I'm impressed.
 

Lisa Murphy

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Interesting topic in general. Supply logistics is not glamorous, but stuff like you brought up is mind-boggling. I guess they had coal barges back then to transport it on the rivers and to resupply ships in port.
Yeah, From Cape Charles to Cape Fear: The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron During the Civil War has a lot about the "colliers" as they were called. Again, from Ch 9:

"As the blockaders came into Beaufort Harbor, they were usually anchored beside a collier or had a collier towed alongside. When possible, they utilized alternate sides of the collier to coal the gunboats' port and starboard sides. The officers often rejected some of the colliers in an attempt to select coal of the highest quality." And later: "Sometimes the engineers threw the inferior coal overboard and refused to give a receipt for it, which caused a great strain between the navy and the masters of the colliers."

Picky picky picky, I gather.
 

georgew

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Interesting topic in general. Supply logistics is not glamorous, but stuff like you brought up is mind-boggling. I guess they had coal barges back then to transport it on the rivers and to resupply ships in port.
Some years ago I ran into a Union quote that if Lee had used Jeb Stuart to raid and destroy rail and canal lines carrying coal used by the USN, that the blockade steamers would have run out within 2-3 months.
 

Rhea Cole

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Going upstream, the three boilers of a City Class gunboat burnt a ton an hour. Coal barges were lashed on either side & a towboat was needed to assist in fighting the 3- 5 knot flow of the Mississippi. A small child on a tricycle could have ridden on a greenway path upstream faster than one of the ironclad gunboats.

The 40 tons a day or 8 tons an hour indicated by the 1,200 tons / month consumption meant that the stokers who shoveled that coal were mighty men. Even into the 20th Century, hundreds of men were needed to move coal from far flung nooks & crannies of the bunkers on liners & warships to get coal within reach of the stokers who flung it into the fireboxes.

Coaling was literally an all hands affair. Every man, regardless of rating & including officers, loaded & stowed the coal. Not only would the entire crew be filthy but coal dust would fill every compartment. Coaling was a vile business despised by one & all. In 1941 one of my uncles, who was a U.S. Navy gunner assigned to civilian vessels, made his first North Atlantic crossing aboard a coal fired freighter. The convoy moved along at a leisurely 8 knots (9 mph). Another uncle, who served over 2 years aboard the fast carrier USS Wasp, thought that was hilariously funny.

A ton of coal occupies 40 cubic feet of space. A ton of coal produces 12,000 BTU's.

A gallon of Number One fuel oil (.13 cubic feet) produces 13,400 BTU's.
 

Lisa Murphy

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Location
Washington State
Wow. Fabulous statistics and historical description.
"A ton of coal occupies 40 cubic feet of space. A ton of coal produces 12,000 BTU's.

A gallon of Number One fuel oil (.13 cubic feet) produces 13,400 BTU's."


Fuel oil clearly wins, hands down. Welcome to the woes of our 21st century coal industry.

I love the image of the tyke on a tricycle. Of course I pictured the classic Radio Flyer:
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Racing along with the Mississippi gunboats:
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And WINNING. Love it!
 
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