The Roller Ship Was Not An Effective Way To Cross The High Seas

The Roller Ship Was Not An Effective Way To Cross The High Seas

Boats come in all shapes and sizes. We have container ships, oil tankers, old-timey wooden sailing ships, catamarans, trimarans, and all sorts besides. Most are designed with features that give them a certain advantage or utility that justifies their construction for a given application.

The roller ship, on the other hand, has not justified its own repeat construction. Just one example was ever built, which proved unseaworthy and impractical. Let’s explore this nautical oddity and learn about why it didn’t make waves as its inventor may have hoped.


Bazin’s roller ship at launch in St. Denis, France, as seen in the February 1897 edition of Cassier’s Magazine. Credit: public domain

The basic idea of the roller ship was to get much of the ship’s body out of the water. This part of the concept was sound. Contact with the water creates a great deal of drag on a ship, so reducing the amount of the boat in the water would enable it to travel much faster.  Many designs, like catamarans and hydrofoils, have cut drag by reducing the wetted area of the boat, and done so effectively. The roller ship, however, didn’t do it so well.

The roller ship used a number of large rollers on either side of the boat. Each roller was disc shaped, and tapered radially, having a vaguely lens-like shape. The rollers were hollow, and intended to provide floatation for the craft and propulsion. When stationary, the discs were essentia ..

Support the originator by clicking the read the rest link below.