Timeline of water transport

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This is a timeline of water transport, focusing on the evolution of watercraft.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
Prehistory The earliest seaworthy boats may have been developed as early as 45,000 years ago, at the time of the first migration of humans into Australia.
Ancient history The Ancient Egyptians already have knowledge of sail construction.[1] Sails are also used in boats in Mesopotamia. The Canal of the Pharaohs and the Lighthouse of Alexandria are early pieces of infrastructure for water navigation.
17th century The first submarine is built in this century.
18th century The Industrial Revolution brings steam power to the vessels, with the first steamboats built in the late century. At around the same time, the construction of acueducts and canals accelerate in Western Europe.
19th century The first steam–powered transatlantic, the first ship to transport a cargo of oil, and the first purpose-built icebreaker are made in this century. Antarctica becomes the last continent to be discovered by means of watercraft.
20th century The first aircraft carrier is used in warfare in 1918. Nuclear-powered vessels appear in the 1950s. The container revolution in shipping begins in the late 1960s. By 1983, 90% of countries would have container ports, compared to 1% in 1966.[2]
21th century There are more than 6,000 container vessels currently in service.[3] Cruising has become an important part of the tourism industry.

Full timeline

Year Category Event Geographical location
45000 BC Notable voyage The first humans arrive in Australia, presumably by boats and land bridge.[4] Australia
6000 BC Watercraf type Egyptians already travel in reed boats.[5] Egypt
4500 BC Technology Mesopotamians add sails to their boats.[5] Irak
3500 BC Watercraft type Oar-powered ships sail Eastern Mediterranean seas.[5]
2000 BC? Infrastructure The Canal of the Pharaohs is built in Egypt.[6] Egypt
1575 BC – 1520 BC Watercraft type Dover Bronze Age Boat, the oldest known plank vessel, is built.[7][8][9] United Kingdom
542 BC Watercraft First written record of a trireme.[10]
247 BC Infrastructure The Lighthouse of Alexandria is completed.[11][12][13] Egypt
214 BC Infrastructure The Lingqu Canal is built. It is the earliest canal recorded in history.[14][15][16] China
c.200 AC Watercraft type Junks are developed in China.[17] China
984 AC Infrastructure Pound locks are used in China.[18][19][20] China
c.1000 AC Leif Ericson reaches North America. This is the first recorded crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
1088 Technology Chinese polymath Shen Kuo first describes a magnetic compass in his Dream Pool Essays.[21][22][23] China
1159 The Hanseatic League is founded in the Baltic Sea port of Lübeck as a maritime league.[24][25][26] Germany
c.1190 English scholar Alexander Neckam writes the first European description of a magnetic compass.
13th century Technology Portolan charts are introduced in the Mediterranean.[27][28][29]
1620 Watercraft type Dutch engineer Cornelis Drebbel builds the world's first submarine.[30][31][32] Netherlands
1757 Technology London astronomer John Bird makes the first sextant.[33][34][35] United Kingdom
1783 Watercraft French engineer Claude de Jouffroy constructs the first recorded steamboat.[36][37][38]
1787 Watercraft type American inventor John Fitch designs the first steamboat in the United States.[39][40][41] United States
1790 Infrastructure Canal Mania –a period of intense canal building, begins in England and Wales.[42][43][44] United Kingdom
1797 Infrastructure The Lune Aqueduct is completed.[45] United Kingdom
1799 Infrastructure The Edstone Aqueduct is completed.[45] United Kingdom
1803 Watercraft type Scottish engineer William Symington's Charlotte Dundas, generally considered to be the world's first practical steamboat, makes its first voyage.[46][47][48]
1804 Watercraft type American inventor Oliver Evans builds an early amphibious vehicle.[49][50][51] United States
1805 Infrastructure The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is completed in Wales.[45] United Kingdom
1807 Watercraft type American engineer Robert Fulton develops its North River Steamboat, the first commercially successful steamboat.[52][53][54] United States
1807 Technology French inventor Nicéphore Niépce patents his Pyréolophore, the world's first internal combustion engine.[55][56][57] France
1819 Technology The SS Savannah makes the first transatlantic crossing by a steamship, from Savannah, Georgia to London.[58][59][60] United States, United Kingdom
1820 Notable voyage Russian officer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen discovers mainland Antarctica.[61][62][63]
1821 Infrastructure The Avon Aqueduct is completed in Scotland.[45] United Kingdom
1859 Watercraft type The first ironclad warship, the Gloire, is launched.[64][65][66] France
1861 Watercraft type The Elizabeth Watt is generally credited for being the first ship to transport a cargo of oil across the Atlantic.[67]
1861 Watercraft type The USS Ice Boat (1861) launches as the first purpose-built icebreaker.[68][69] United States
1864 Technology Ictineo II, by Spanish engineer Narcís Monturiol, becomes the first submarine powered by an internal-combustion engine.[70][71][72] Spain
1869 Infrastructure The Suez Canal opens.[73][74][75] Egypt
1893 Infrastructure The Corinth Canal opens.[76][77][78] Greece
1895 Infrastructure The Kiel Canal opens.[79][80][81] Germany
1896 Infrastructure The Briare aqueduct opens.[45] France
1897 Watercraft type The Turbinia is launched. It is the first vessel to be powered by a steam turbine.[82][83][84] United Kingdom
1911 Watercraft type Glenn Curtiss builds an early hydroplane.[85][86][87] United States
1911 Technology The MS Selandia becomes the first important ocean-going vessel to be diesel powered.[88][89][90] Denmark
1914 Infrastructure The Panama Canal opens.[91][92][93] Panama
1915 Watercraft type Austrian naval officer Dagobert Müller von Thomamühl creates the first air cushion torpedo speedboat.[94] Austria
1918 Watercraft type The HMS Furious (47) becomes the first aircraft carrier used in warfare.[95][96][97] United Kingdom
1955 Watercraft type USS Nautilus (SSN-571) launches as the world's first nuclear-powered vessel.[98][99][100] United States
1957 Watercraft type Malcom McLean's Gateway City, the first ever ship specifically designed to carry containers, makes its first voyage from New Jersey to Miami.[3] United States
1959 Notable voyage The USS Skate (SSN-578) surfaces at the North Pole.[101][102][103]
1961 Infrastructure The Ringvaart Aqueduct is built in the Netherlands.[45] Netherlands
1966 Notable voyage Sea-Land’s Fairland sails from the United States to the Netherlands with 236 containers on-board, in the first international container ship voyage.[3] United States, Netherlands
1966 Infrastructure Around 1% of countries have container ports.[3]
1977 Notable voyage Soviet icebreaker Arktika makes the first surface voyage to the North Pole.[104][105][106]
1983 Infrastructure 90% of countries have container ports, up from 1% in 1966.[3]
1985 Watercraft type The Sea Shadow (IX-529), an early stealth ship, is launched.[107] United States
1994 Technology The Global Positioning System (GPS) becomes operational.[108][109][110]
2003 Infrastructure The Magdeburg Water Bridge opens.[45] Germany
2003 Infrastructure The Krabbersgat Naviduct opens in the Netherlands.[45] Netherlands
2006 Watercraft type MS Freedom of the Seas is introduced and becomes the largest cruise liner at the time. It can accommodate 3,634 passengers and 1,300 crew on fifteen passenger decks.[111]
2011 Cruising accounts for US$29.4 billion with over 19 million passengers carried worldwide in the year.[112]
2012 Watercraft type Canadian filmmaker and deep-sea explorer James Cameron reaches the Challenger Deep solo with the Deepsea Challenger.[113][114][115]
2018 Watercraft type MS Symphony of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship by gross tonnage at 228,021 GT, sets sail from Barcelona.[116] Spain

Meta information on the timeline

How the timeline was built

The initial version of the timeline was written by User:Sebastian.

Funding information for this timeline is available.

What the timeline is still missing

Timeline update strategy

See also

External links


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