By fitting a steam engine and all its machinery into an existing hull, naval architects created a small ship-of-the-line not entirely tied to the wind and tide. The results are moderately successful, as a steamship can sail independently of the wind, but still spend a good deal of time under sail to save fuel. Tactically, however, the steamship has another advantage: manoeuvrability. The 38 guns aboard can be brought to bear with ease.
Historically, steam shipbuilding owes a great debt to the British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a man who built ships, bridges and railways. His first ship, the SS Great Western, made 74 Atlantic crossings during its life. Not content with this, Brunel designed and built an iron, screw-driven “liner”, the SS Great Britain. The first screw-driven ship to cross the Atlantic, she is now splendidly restored and preserved at Bristol Docks in England.