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NAME

SS. EMPRESS OF IRELAND

CLASS

LINER

LAUNCHED

JANUARY 27th 1906

BUILT

FAIRFIELD SHIPBUILDING / GLASGOW / SCOTLAND

WEIGHT

14,191 TONS

LENGTH

570 FEET

WIDTH

65 FEET

SPEED

18 KNOTS - PISTON ENGINES - TWO PROPELLERS


Empress of Ireland was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company to be operated on the Liverpool - Quebec run alongside her sister ship Empress of Britain. These ships were mainly used to provide a mail service and transport emigrants from Britain to Canada. Empress of Ireland set out on her maiden voyage from Liverpool - Quebec June 29th 1906.  With her being one of the fastest ships on that route, she could complete these crossings in five and a half days. Empress of Ireland departed Quebec for the last time traveling down the St Lawrence River bound for Liverpool in the early afternoon May 29th 1914. In the early hours of June 1st, she encountered heavy fog when nearing the mouth of the river. Soon after encountering the fog, Empress of Ireland’s lookout sighted a ship steaming towards them on their starboard side. Her captain responded to the situation by putting the engines in reverse to give the oncoming ship more time to maneuver and pass safely.

Empress of Ireland

The crew of the approaching ship, the Norwegian collier Storstad, took the decision to pass port to port. As the Storstad’s captain made a turn to starboard, he believed the ships were further apart than they really were. That miscalculation led to his ships bow crashing into the Empress of Ireland’s starboard side. The collision holed the Empress of Ireland above and below the waterline at the area of her engine compartment. As water soon filled the damaged compartments, she took on a list to starboard, this leading to water entering throughout the ship through open portholes. Empress of Ireland turned on her side within 11 minutes and sank approximately 14 minutes after the impact, taking all but four lifeboats with her. Even though her captain managed to take control of a lifeboat and saved many passengers by ferrying them to the Storstad, this became the worst ever-Canadian maritime disaster as 1,012 of the Empress of Ireland’s passengers and crew lost their lives. Empress of Britain was operated on various routes before steaming to Norway for scrapping in 1930.

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