RMS Empress of Canada (1928)

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For other ships of the same name, see Empress of Canada.
Name: 1928-1947: SS Duchess of Richmond
1947-1953: RMS Empress of Canada
Namesake: Duchess of Richmond
Operator: Red Ensign Canadian Pacific Steamships Ltd
Route: Canada to UK
Builder: John Brown & Company, Clydebank
Yard number: 523[1]
Launched: 18 June 1928
Maiden voyage: 15 March 1929
Refit: 1946/1947
Fate: Caught fire and capsized on 25 January 1953
Scrapped in La Spezia in 1954
General characteristics
Type: Passenger liner
Troopship during Second World War
Tonnage: 20,022
Length: 601 ft (183 m)
Beam: 75 ft 3 in (22.94 m)
Propulsion: {
Speed: 18 knots
Capacity: As built 580 cabin, 480 tourist and 510 3rd class passengers

SS Duchess of Richmond was an ocean liner built in 1928 for Canadian Pacific Steamships by John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland. In 1947 she was renamed SS Empress of Canada.


The Duchess of Richmond was one of the several "sturdy Canadian Pacific liners which were known as "Drunken Duchesses" for their lively performance in heavy seas."[2] She was built as a sister ship to SS Duchess of York, SS Duchess of Bedford and SS Duchess of Atholl.

In March 1929 the 20,022-ton ocean liner began transatlantic summer service from Montreal Canada to Liverpool in the United Kingdom with winter service out of the port of Saint John, New Brunswick.


The merchant ship SS Duchess of Richmond disembarking soldiers at Algiers, November 1942.

During World War II, the Duchess was requisitioned as a troopship. Early in the war, she transported men to the fighting in North Africa, stopping briefly in Algiers to disembark troops on November 14, 1942.[3]


In 1947 she was refitted as a luxury liner with the new name Empress of Canada and returned to service on her original Canada to England route.

On 25 January 1953 the Empress of Canada caught fire and heeled over against the dock wall at Gladstone Dock, Liverpool. Re-floated after being righted by parbuckling,[4] the following spring she was taken to La Spezia, Italy where she was scrapped. The difficulty of her recovery has been likened to that of USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor in 1943 and SS Normandie in New York harbor in 1942.[4]


  1. ^ "1160631". Miramar Ship Index. http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz. Retrieved 21 June 2009. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Buchan, William. (1982) John Buchan: a Memoir, p. 224.
  3. ^ Netherlands Navy: "Mystery photos". Archived 13 February 2011 at WebCite
  4. ^ a b Liverpool Ships. "The Canadian Pacific Liner EMPRESS OF CANADA was destroyed by fire in the Gladstone Dock at Liverpool on 25th January, 1953.". Liverpool Ships. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 


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