London Times, 6 June 1859, p. 10: THE NEW RUSSIAN FRIGATE GENERAL-ADMIRAL.
The new 6,000 ton war ship General-Admiral, just completed at this port for the Russian Government, went on her trial trip yesterday, leaving the foot of Canal-street at 7 o'clock a.m., with five or six hundred invited guests on board, among whom we observed Mr. Ostensacken, Secretary of the Russian Legation; Captain Faunce, of the cutter Harriet Lane; Chief Engineers Everitt and Martin, United States' Navy, and many others, merchants and sea captains. On account of the prevalence of a fog it was not deemed prudent to cross the bar at Sandy Hook, and so the steamer cruised around the harbour during the day, instead of going to sea, as had been intended. The trial, though not affording the best opportunity for testing the speed of the ship, for want of sea room, was very satisfactory, and highly enjoyed by those on board. The General-Admiral is the largest wooden steamer afloat, and is undoubtedly superior in workmanship to anything which Americans have ever built. It may even be asserted, without fear of contradiction, that she is nowhere excelled as a vessel of war. Her builders in every department have been more ambitious to construct a ship which shall worthily represent American skill (perhaps to invite further proposals) than to derive the largest possible amount of direct pecuniary advantage in their own behalf. Moreover, they have been unrestricted in expenditure, as appears very evident in the way in which the work is executed. A large proportion of the castings are of brass, and very massive; the fastenings are of the same character throughout as to quality and strength; the timbers are the choicest products of our forests, and ingenuity has been fruitfully employed in the application of the most approved principles of enginery and naval architecture. The entire amount expended, exclusive of armament, which will be put on board at Cronstadt (with the exception of two powerful Dahlgren shell guns, placed on pivots fore and aft), is about 1,250,000 dollars. The two monster guns already mounted appear to be about 10 feet long by two in diameter, in the largest part, and being made to revolve on movable railways, may be used with effect either in pursuit or while in retreat. They are formidable engines, capable of throwing shot with accuracy to a distance almost incredible. On either side of the spaceous gun-deck are arranged, opposite the 90 portholes, the massive mahagony carriages, ready for their armament, thus completing the furniture of this superb "slaughter-house." The Emperor Alexander, no doubt, designs this ship as a model for the imitation of his own artisans in future years. A considerable number of Russian gentlemen, some 15 or 20, have diligently co-operated with our mechanics, not only to secure a good ship, but to perfect themselves, so far as possible, in the different departments of nautical science. In the result they challenge the severest criticism. The General-Admiral will carry 90 guns. She has a pair of horizontal back-action engines; cylinders 84 inches in diameter, with 45 inches stroke of piston. The shaft has a diameter of 17 inches in the journals, and weighs about 27 tons. The propeller is wholly of brass, is two-bladed, and weighs 13 tons. The other brass work connected, such as chains, hoisting frame, &c., weighs 12 tons more. The whole length of the line of propeller shafting is 124 feet. The air pumps are worked direct from the pistons, and are arranged with rubber foot and delivery valves. There are six horizontal tubular boilers, with 38 furnaces, having in the aggregate 21,000 square feet of fire surface and 700 feet of grate surface, and comprise not less than 15,960 brass tubes. Their aggregate weight is 240 tons, and the water filling them weighs 300 tons more. All the boilers are connected by one telescope smoke-pipe 11 feet in diameter. Besides, there is one donkey boiler for driving two donkey steam pumps and blowing the furnaces. There are also hore connexions on every deck, for extinguishing fires; and Dr. Reed's ventilating apparatus, by which all parts of the ship timbers and cabins are effectually purified, is supplied with power from the same source. These engines are from the Novelty Iron Company's works in this city, and are believed to equal, if not surpass, any marine machinery before made in this country. The hull, as is well known, is from the eminent builder, W.H. Webb. Its length over all is 325 feet, breadth of beam 55 feet, depth of hold 34 feet. It is needless to repeat the other details of dimensions, &c. The General-Admiral returned to her wharf about 6 o'clock, and a shower had little effect in dampening the enthusiasm of those who had so bountifully shared the hospitality of Mr. Webb and his Muscovite patrons. She was at one time, not withstanding the fog, worked up to the speed obtained on her former (engineer's) trip, when she easily made 10 knots with 40 revolutions, going from Governor's Island to Fort Hamilton, a little over seven statute or about six nautical miles, in 36 minutes. She is a work of which our mechanics may well be proud, and we are not surprised to learn that agents of foreign Governments are inquiring with reference to the construction in American shipyards of other vessels of this description. The General-Admiral will leave port early next month for Cronstadt, via Cherbourg, under the command of Captain Comstock, late of the Baltic. -- New York Journal of Commerce, May 21.