SS Great Eastern was an iron sailing steam ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and built by J Scott Russell and Co. at Millwall on the River Thames, London. She was by far the largest ship ever built at the time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers around the world without refuelling. Her length of 692 feet (211 m) was only surpassed in 1899 by the 705 feet (215 m) 17,274 gross ton RMS Oceanic, and her gross tonnage of 18,915 was only surpassed in 1901 by the 700 feet (210 m) and 21,035 gross ton RMS Celtic. Brunel knew her affectionately as the Great Babe. He died in 1859 shortly after her ill-fated maiden voyage during which she was damaged by an explosion.