With 90,000 vessels trading all over the globe, it is difficult to imagine that any single development could, over the lifespan of a ship, make almost every one of them obsolete and destined for a chapter in the annals of maritime history. However, this is the inescapable fate for the venerable hard-working diesel plant that we have all come to depend on, regardless of its time polished rods, or ultra-modern all encased shiny blue paintwork, the two or four stroke diesel is soon to be a thing of the past.
Before we get all dewy eyed and nostalgic for that Sulzer that saw you through thick and thin or the MAN that lulled you to sleep as it ran and shocked you awake when it changed pitch or, god forbid, shut down, It is worth considering the previous such visceral attachments that mariners through time have seen come and go, and why they came and eventually went.
Sail as a lone propulsion method was of course at the whims of the very elements it harnessed and so scheduling arrivals was a true feat of mastery and mystery. Combining sail and steam was a logical half step which was highly successful even in the days when the steam engine was not well developed and often suffered from failures. The design of these ships kept the essence of both propulsion systems well accommodated so they could make good way with either if so, required hence ensuring the failings of either the wind or the iron could be compensated for and the customers at the quay side would not be unduly inconvenienced.