By Shane Winser
Last updated 2011-02-17
During the first five years after the ship was launched, the Great Eastern did not find enough passengers to take to either Australia or the Americas. Failure of commercial ventures forced the company to liquidate, and on 14 January 1864 the ship was put up for sale, but no purchaser could be found at auction. In April 1864 the ship was then chartered to the Telegraph Construction Company, for the purpose of laying the first transatlantic telegraph cable.
The Great Eastern was the only ship big enough to take the length of cable required for this huge operation, and it took five months just to load it. The first voyage of the new venture took place on 14 July 1865. After several mishaps involving lost and broken cables, the transatlantic cable linking Europe to America was completed on 1 September 1866.
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