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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

CS Pouyer-Quertier
by Bill Glover


Half-hull model of Pouyer-Quertier, 70" long

Cable Steamer "Pouyer-Quertier" No. 388
C. Mitchell & Co. Builders Newcastle on Tyne 1879

Built in 1879 by C. Mitchell & Company, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Length 238.2 ft  Breadth 35.9 ft  Depth 22.9 ft  Gross tonnage 1396

Built for La Compagnie Française du Télégraphe de Paris à New York. The vessel incorporated a number of features from Faraday (1), which included twin screws, bow rudder, swivelling bow and stern sheaves. A combined paying out-picking up machine was mounted on the forward well deck and canted slightly to starboard.

Two cable tanks were fitted: one forward, holding 12580 cu ft and one aft, holding 8592 cu ft. A trough was provided in the port alleyway to feed the cable from the forward tank to the stern sheave when paying out astern. The bow and stern sheaves were mounted on U shaped overhanging booms and consisted of a 5 ft dia and 1½ ft dia free running sheaves on the inside of the boom and a 3 ft dia one on the outside.

CS Pouyer-Quertier was initially based at Le Havre for work on maintaining Atlantic cables.

In 1895 the company merged with La Société Française des Télégraphes Sous-Marins to form La Compagnie Française des Câbles Télégraphiques and the ship was transferred to the new company. In 1896 the ship moved to the Antilles and remained there until scrapped in 1931.


1896 Willemstad, Curacao - La Guaira, Venezuela
1897 Willemstad, Curacao - La Guaira, Venezuela
1897 La Guaira - Puerto Cabello
1897 Willemstad - La Vela de Coro - Maracaibo, Venezuela


Note: The "No. 388" on the half-hull model refers to the Yard Number of the Pouyer-Quertier at Mitchell & Company. Tyne & Wear Archives has a midship plan of the P-Q in its Charles Mitchell (later Armstrong Mitchell) ship plans collection.

The Mitchell shipyard launched its first ship in 1853; the company also built the cable ships William Cory in 1857, Silvertown in 1873 and Faraday (1) in 1874.

The Pouyer-Quertier model shown above was exhibited at the Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Mining, Engineering and Industrial Exhibition in 1887.
[The Marine Engineer, June 1, 1887, p81]


Contemporary Reports on the Pouyer-Quertier

From The Marine Engineer, Sept. 1, 1879:


Pouyer-Quertier.—On the 4th August there was launched from the shipbuilding yard of Messrs. C. Mitchell and Co., Low Walker, on the Tyne, a vessel of a novel description, built expressly as a telegraph cable ship, and named the Pouyer-Quertier, after the well-known French statesman, who also occupies the position of chairman of the telegraph company in whose service she is in future to be engaged as a maintaining steamer.

The Pouyer-Quertier has been built to the order of Messrs. Siemens Bros., who have the contract for laying the cable of the “Compagnie Francaise du Telegraphe de Paris a New York,” which is at present being placed between Brest, in Prance, and a point near New York. Although much smaller, the new vessel bears in many respects a resemblance to her predecessor, the well-known cable steamer Faraday, also built by Messrs. C. Mitchell and Co. for Messrs. Siemens Brothers about five years ago. Like the Faraday, the new steamer has twin screws, is fitted with a rudder at each end, and has bilge keels of a special description. There are on board two principal cable tanks, and sundry small supplementary tanks for coiling and stowing the different descriptions of cable.

Her whole form and structure are unusually strong; and, although bearing the highest class both of the English Lloyd's and the French Veritas, she is even stronger than required by these societies. On the deck will be placed very powerful machinery of the latest and most improved description for the “laying ”and “picking up” of cables. The machinery consists of a pair of compound surface-condensing engines, manufactured by Messrs. Thomas Clark and Co., of Elswick, including all the latest improvements in Marine engineering, and capable of propelling the vessel at a speed of 10 knots per hour on the most moderate consumption of fuel.

Her dimensions are:—Length over all, 260 ft.; beam, 36ft.; depth, 24 ft. 4 in.; and she will have a burthen of 1,800 tons.

As the vessel left the ways, the christening ceremony was performed by Miss Siemens, daughter of M. Carl Siemens, who himself was present as the representative of his firm.

From The Marine Engineer, Nov. 1, 1879:


Pouyer Quertier.—This new telegraph ship, built by Messrs. C. Mitchell & Co., left the yard on September 2oth, for trial at sea, also to have her compasses adjusted. Amongst her visitors were Captain Maypee, representing the owners; Mr. Brittle, representing the telegraph company; Mr. W. Dobson, representing the builders; Mr. T. Clark, representing the engine builders; Mr. Taylor, Board of Trade Surveyor; Mr. P.McGregor,Lloyd's surveyor; Mr. T. Atkinson, Bureau Veritas surveyor; Mr. Farma, of Messrs. Farina and Bushell, consulting engineers; Mr. R. Norton, Messrs. C. Mitchell & Co.'s superintendent engineer; Mr. Wm. Wilson, &c.

An average run of 9¾ knots ahead, and 7¾ astern was obtained. The party adjourned to the saloon, where luncheon was provided. The usual toasts for the success of the owners, builders, and the telegraph company were proposed by Captain Maypee, and responded to by Mr. Dobson and Mr. Farina. The vessel was then tried in her turning powers.

The Pouyer Quertier has two pairs of engines, which drive independent screws. She has been constructed for repairing submarine telegraph cables, and has two large cable tanks, built with a view to her requirements for that purpose. She is also fitted with all the latest improvements, including about a mile of Chadburn's patent telegraph, and bells fore and aft, and fitted with John Hastie & Co.'s (Greenock) steam steering gear. Although built of much smaller dimensions than the Hooper and the Faraday, the Pouyer Quertier will be as useful and much handier than either.

On leaving the vessel, the company gave three hearty cheers to the Pouyer Quertier, which was lustily responded to by the officers and crew. She then steamed away to London, and arrived at the Nore in twenty-seven hours.

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Last revised: 23 October, 2015

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