The shipbuilding firm of John Laird, Sons & Co. launched several of the most famous ships of the 19th century, including several (Denbigh, Alabama, Lark) that played dramatic roles in Texas during the Civil War. The company was arguably the world’s leader in iron-hulled construction in the mid-1800s.
So how good were they, really?
Good enough to win a contract from Captain Nemo:
“But how were you able to build this wonderful Nautilus in secret?”
“Each part of it, Professor Aronnax, came from a different spot on the globe and reached me at a cover address. Its keel was forged by Creusot in France, its propeller shaft by Pen & Co. in London, the sheet-iron plates for its hull by Laird’s in Liverpool, its propeller by Scott’s in Glasgow. Its tanks were manufactured by Cail & Co. in Paris, its engine by Krupp in Prussia, its spur by the Motala workshops in Sweden, its precision instruments by Hart Bros. in New York, etc.; and each of these suppliers received my specifications under a different name.”
– Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Ch. 13, “Some Figures.”