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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 Scotia
by Bill Glover


Built in 1861 by R. Napier & Co,. Glasgow

Length 379.0 ft  Breadth 47.8 ft  Depth 20.0 ft  Gross tonnage 3871

Built originally for Samuel Cunard in 1862 for the Atlantic service; the largest ship afloat at the time with the exception of Great Eastern. Held the Blue Riband eastbound for five years and westbound for four years. Laid up in Liverpool from 1875 until purchased in 1879 by the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company. Converted for cable laying and fitted with new engines by Laird Brothers.

Scotia recovered porthole
Image courtesy of and copyright © 2015 Paul Edwards

Three tanks were installed, No 1, 36 ft dia by 26 ft deep; No 2, 40 ft dia by 23 ft deep; No 3, 37 ft dia by 15 ft deep, giving a total capacity of 69441 cu ft. Two paying out-picking up machines were situated on the main deck and a single paying out machine was placed aft. Twin bow and one stern sheaves were fitted. 

Sold in 1903 to the Commercial Pacific Cable Co. Broke her back on a reef at Catalan Island, Guam in 1904.

In the mid-1970s Paul Edwards, a diver and former resident of Guam, recovered a porthole from the wreck of Scotia. Paul notes that at the time, the ship’s “boilers, double bottom, and engine crankshaft were still readily apparent.”

Scientific American 28 June 1879

The Steamship Scotia

Many of our people, from having frequently crossed the Atlantic in the steamship Scotia, the last side-wheel steamer built for the Cunard Company, will be glad to know what has become of their favorite vessel. A foreign contemporary gives the following account of her:

Few would recognize in the large twin screw steamer which left the Mersey lately, the once famous Cunard liner Scotia, the last of the great paddle steamers built for the Atlantic trade, and which, under the command of the late Captain Judkins, was for years looked upon as the fastest and favorite vessel on the line between Liverpool and New York. The Scotia was built in 1862, when, with the exception of the Great Eastern, she was probably the largest mail steamer afloat, being about 400 feet long over all, 47 feet 8 inches beam, and 4,050 tons builder’s measurement, and fitted with a pair of side lever engines of 1,000 horse power.

Book of specifications for Steam Ship "Scotia" published by Telcon after their acquisition of the ship.
9.5" x 6", 16 pages

The introduction of screw steamers fitted with compound engines for the Atlantic and other ocean voyages has, of late years, entirely superseded the paddle steamers, and a few years back the Scotia was withdrawn from the Cunard Company’s sailing list, and was subsequently purchased by the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company to be employed in their cable-laying operations.

Extensive alterations were made by Messrs. Laird Brothers, at Birkenhead Ironworks. The Scotia has been stripped of her masts, funnels, machinery, paddle wheels and paddle boxes, deckhouses, etc.; she has also been raised by the addition of a spar deck, and altered about the after end to prepare her for twin screws, and has been fitted with new compound engines, and also provided with three immense cylindrical tanks in which to stow the electric cable, as well as with most elaborate and approved steam machinery for paying out and hauling in, also steam capstan, steam steering gear, winches, etc.

The new engines are two distinct sets, on the compound system, with inverted cylinders, 38 inches, and 66 inches diameter, and 3 feet 9 inches stroke, supplied with steam at 75 lb. pressure from three double-ended cylindrical boilers, and are calculated to drive the vessel at a speed of about 11½ knots an hour.


Captain W.R. Cato:
1879 Penang - Malacca - Singapore - Banjoewangie, DEI
1880 Aden - Zanzibar
1880 Renewed major part of 1866 Trans Atlantic cable
1882 Greetsiel - Borkum, Germany - Valentia, Ireland
1883 Vladivostock, Russia - Nagasaki, Japan - Shanghai, China
1883 Hong Kong - Foochow - Shanghai, China
1884 The Lizard, England - Bilbao, Spain
1884 Madeira - St Vincent, Cape Verde Islands
1884 St Vincent, Cape Verde Islands - Pernambuco, Brazil
1885 Bathurst, Gambia - Freetown, Sierra Leone - Accra, Gold Coast - Lagos - Brass - Bonny, Nigeria
1887 Porthcurno - Carcavelos - Gibraltar - Malta - Zante
1889 Cape Town - Mossamedes
1890 Sydney - Wellington
1890 Aden - Suez, Egypt
1891 Fano - Oye, Denmark
1893 Zanzibar - Seychelles - Mauritius
1894 Valentia Island, Ireland - Hearts Content, Newfoundland
1894 Singapore - Labuan
1894 Labuan - Menumbok, Sabah
1894 Labuan - Hong Kong
1896 Greetsiel - Borkum, Germany - Vigo, Spain
1898 Jamaica - Turks Island - Bermuda
1898 Porthcurno, England - Gibraltar
Captain H. Woodcock:
1900 Rio de Janeiro - Pernambuco - Para, Brazil

Montevideo - Maldonado - Rio de Janeiro

1901 Cocos (Keeling) Islands - Cottesloe, Perth, W. Australia - Glenelg, Adelaide, S. Australia
1901 North Sydney, Nova Scotia - St Pierre et Miquelon - Bay Roberts, USA

Cottesloe, Perth, W. Australia - Adelaide, S. Australia


Capt W.R. Cato:


1866 and 1873 Atlantic


1869 Brest, France - St. Pierre


Valentia - Greetsiel


Brest St. Pierre cable, 3 faults


St. Vincent - Pernambuco


St. Vincent - Pernambuco near St. Vincent


Madeira - St Vincent, CVI 2 repairs, near St. Vincent, near Ferro


Ballinskelligs - Halifax 2 faults


Cook Straits, New Zealand


Carcavelos - Madeira 1873 cable


Maldonado - Chuy at Maldonado


Pernambuco - Bahia, 2 repairs



Capt. H. Woodcock:


St. Vincent - Pernambuco 1884 cable


CS Scotia stamps from Bill Glover’s collection:

Cableships Index Page

Last revised: 20 February, 2022

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