The world's first fully welded ship

The coaster Fullagar  was built 1917-1920 with hull number 882 at the shipyard Cammell, Laird & Company in Birkenhead, United Kingdom as the world's first fully welded seagoing ship. It was launched on 5 February 1920, and on 2 July 1920 and handed over to the British shipping company T. & J. Brocklebank in Liverpool. It was operated in the regular service between Liverpool and Belfast.[1]
Fullagar, the world's first fully welded ship, on 5 February 1920

Fullagar on 5 February 1920.[5]

© 1920

In November 1921, the ship was sold to the Manx Isles Steamship Company in Liverpool and renamed Caria. A little later, the Cammellaird-Fullagar four-cylinder, two-stroke, opposed-piston diesel engine was replaced by a W. Beardmore four-cylinder, two-stroke diesel engine. In June 1925, the Caria ran on the Mersey on a sandbank, where she obtained ground damage. In the same year, the British Columbia Cement Company acquired the ship and renamed it Shean. After a recent sale to Mexican owners in 1935 and renamed Cedros , the ship sank on 31 August 1937, 30 nautical miles south of Ensenada , after a collision.[1]

Technical Features

According to the rules of Lloyd's Register of Shipping of 15 August 1918, based on which the ship was classified, the Fullagar was almost completely welded, but most of its plate joints were joggled in the conventional manner or just overlapped, as was usual when joining by riveting.[1][2][3]

After Fullagar's commissioning with the class number 100 A1, it was annually class inspected during the first ten years of its operation, deviating from the normal class run. A stranding, a collision as well as various ground touches and damages in these first ten years of operation showed a high resistance of the ship's hull, which in part went far beyond the values of a comparable ship with a conventionally riveted hull. The welded hull was also easier to repair after the damage had occurred. Thus, after the stranding in June 1925, large deep dents could be removed by hydraulic pressing, which would have meant replacing the outer skin plates of a riveted ship. The kelson was then raised. After a collision in British Columbia, the ship suffered considerable damage, but was not lost, unlike would probably have happened if the damage had been the same for a riveted construction. Because of these good experiences and because no unusual susceptibility to corrosion could be observed after ten years of operation, the class was changed to a two-year interval.[1][4]

General Data

Flag: United Kingdom
  - Caria (1921-1925)
  - Shean (1925-1935)
  - Cedros (1935-1937)
Type: Motor cargo ship
Line: T. & J.Brocklebank
Yard: Cammell Laird & Co 
Construction No:  882
Keel laying:1917
Launch: 5 Feb 1920
Commission: 2 July 1920
Sunk on 31 August 1937
  after a collision


Length: 50.00 m (overall) 

Width: 7.01 m
Side height: 3,51 m
Tonnage: 398 GRT [6]



1 × Cammellaird-Fullagar four-cylinder two-stroke opposed piston diesel engine
Power: 500 hp (368 kW)
Speed:10.0 kts (19 km/h)
1 × fixed pitch Propeller 

After 1922

1 × W. Beardmore four-cylinder two-stroke diesel engine
Power: 91 RHP

Speed: 9.5 kts (18 km/h)
1 × fixed pitch Propeller


Historic Publications

Fullagar, the world's first fully welded ship, as shown in The Engineer, 16 July 1920

Article in The Engineer, 16 July 1920, page 69


The Motor Ship Fullagar (The Engineer, 16 July 1920, page 69)

THE welded motor ship Fullagar, built by Cammel Laird and Co., Limited, Birkenhead, the first vessel to be fitted with the Camellaird-Fullagar type of marine oil engine, which was described in our issues of January 30th and February 6th, has just carried out very sueeessful sea trials. We reproduce above a photograph of the ship under way.


The vessel herself is unique, in that not a single rivet has been used in her construction, the hull being welded throughout, as are also the fuel, lubricating, and water tanks. The ship is 150ft, in length. She is intended for the coasting trade, and is fitted with a Cammellaird-Fullagar oil engine of 500 brake horse-power, which works on the Diesel cycle and rum. at a speed of 100-120 revolutions per minute. The engine has four cylinders 14in. in dia-meter, while each of the opposed pistons has a stroke of 20in. Air at a pressure of 1000 lb. per square inch is used for injecting the fuel into the cylinders and is supplied by a three-stage air compressor driven from the forward sad of the crank shaft. The circulating pumps are also driven off that and of the shaft. thus rendering the engine a self-contained propelling unit. The hull and machinery have been built under the supervisions of G. S. Doodwin and Co., consulting engineers, of Liverpool, and the vessel has been purchased by Thos. and Jno. Brooldebank. Limited.


The trials of the vessel were carried out in the river Mersey on Tuesday, June 29th, when the ease and quickness with which the engine could be manoluvred impressed all present. Reversal from full speed ahead to full speed astern only required about ten seconds, the engine easily starting action with full ahead way on the ship. At about 11.40 p.m. on the same day the Fullagar set off on her maiden trip to the Clyde. After getting clear of land extremely rough weather was encountered, and as this became worse it was found necessary to put into Ramsey until the storm abated. During this part of the voyage the engine ran steadily throughout, no racing being experienced, and there was only a slight variation in the revolutions. The hull was well tested, the force of the waves subjecting it to severe shocks and strains, which it withstood perfectly. The vessel left Ramsey at 4.20 a.m. on July 1st and reached Greenock about 6 p.m. The engine continued to run steadily at a speed of 106 revolutions per minute, the ship doing about 9.75 knots against wind and tide. On July 2nd some trial runs on the mile and manoeuvring tests were carried out, and the Fullagar left the Clyde at 11.30 p.m. on the same evening, arriving in the Mersey at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 3rd. The engine ran satisfactorily and without any sign of trouble from start to finish at an average speed of 107 revolutions per minute, the vessel averaging about 10 knots. During this run the fuel consumption worked out at 2.1 tons per day of twenty-four hours. Some of the readings taken in the engine-room were as follows : - Scavenge air pressure, 1¼ lb, per square inch ; circulating water pressure. 6.5 lb. per square inch ; lubricating oil pressure. 12 lb. per square inch ; blast air pressure, 1000 lb. per square inch ; scavenge temperature, 50 deg. Fah.; circulating discharge temperature, 100 deg. Fah.; engine-room temperature, 62 deg. Fah.



In June 2016 TWI and Lloyd’s Register teamed-up to  to launch Fullagar Technologies.
The venture will see TWI and Lloyd’s Register working together to deliver innovative new inspection systems, products and services.[7]


  • Max Wilson: First and Famous: Fullagar. 17 April 2018.
  • Motor Ship Fullagar. In: The Engineer.  July 16, 1920, p. 69.
  • Alfred Dudszus, Alfred Köpcke: Das große Buch der Schiffstypen (The big book of ship types). Weltbild Verlag (licensed edition of transpress, Berlin), Augsburg 1995, ISBN 3-89350-831-7.
  • HP Spratt: Handbook of Collections illustrating Merchant Steamers and Motor-Ships (Science Museum Reprint Series, Part II: Descriptive Catalog). Her Majesty's Stationery Office by A. Wheaton & Company, Exeter 1968, ISBN 0-901805-01-7 , p.   89/90 (first edition: 1949, reprint).  


[1] SteKrueBe (95,2 %), Ambross07 (2,7 %), Lómelinde (1,1 %) et al: Fullagar on the German Wikipedia.

[2] Schw .: Launching of the electrically welded ship "Fullagar" . In: Shipyard and Shipping Company. Vol 1, No. 5, March 1920, p. 105.


[3] Lloyd's Register: Supplement containing Additions and Amendments adopted by the General Committee since the Issue of the 1917-18 Edition / Notice 1314 . In: Rules and Regulations for the Construction and Classification of Steel Vessels From the 1st July, 1917 to the 30th June, 1918. August 1918.


[4] K .: Betriebserfahrungen mit dem elektrisch geschweißten Schiff „Fullagar“ (Operational experience with the electrically welded ship "Fullagar"). In: Werft-Reederei-Hafen. Vol 13, No 2, January 1932, p. 28.


[5] Juan A Oliveira: El MS Fullagar, el primer barco de casco soldado de la historia. 15 January 2019.


[6] Fullagar data according to Miramar Ship Index viewed on 26 May 2009.


[7] Fresh solutions for traditional industries: Fullagar Technologies.


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