The first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, the SS SAVANNAH, sailed from this harbor on May 22, 1819 and reached Liverpool 27 days later. The anniversary of her sailing, May 22, is celebrated as National Maritime Day. Captain Moses Rogers was her master. James Monroe, President of the United States, inspected the vessel here and was taken on a trial excursion on May 12. The Savannah Steamship Company (of which William Scarbrough was principal promoter,) fitter her with a 90 H.P. engine and boiler. She was of 330 tons burden, 98'6" long, 25'2" breadth, 12'11" draft, equipped with paddle-wheel, spars, and sails. She depended primarily upon sail power in the open seas. Before returning to Savannah she visited St. Petersburg, Crondstadt, and Stockholm.
The SS JOHN RANDOLPH, America's first successful iron steamship in commerce, was launched in this harbor July 9, 1834. Prefabricated in Birkenhead, England for Gazaway B. Lamar of Savannah, she was shipped in segments and assembled here. She was 100' long and 22' breadth. Unlike the SS SAVANNAH, she was an immediate commercial success in the river trade, and was the first of a great fleet of iron steamboats on the rivers of America.