RMS Empress of Canada (1928)

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For other ships with the same name, see Empress of Canada (disambiguation).
Ship. Empress of Canada BAnQ P48S1P15857.jpg
Empress of Canada arrives in Montreal, 1947.
History
Name:
  • 1928-1947: SS Duchess of Richmond
  • 1947-1953: RMS Empress of Canada
Namesake: Duchess of Richmond
Operator: Canadian Pacific house flag.svg Canadian Pacific Steamships Ltd
Port of registry: London,  UK
Route: Liverpool to Quebec and Montreal (Apr-Nov), Liverpool to St. John (Nov-Apr)
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 (1947, 20,325)
Length: 601 ft (183 m)
Beam: 75 ft 3 in (22.94 m)
Propulsion: Geared turbines, twin screw
Speed: 18 knots
Capacity: As built 580 cabin, 480 tourist and 510 3rd class passengers, 1947, 400 1st class, 300 tourist
Crew: 510

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.

Duchess[edit]

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.

At midnight on Saturday, 26 January, 1926 she sailed from Liverpool to Freetown and back, on a cruise, calling in at

  • Gibraltar, 30 Jan
  • Monte Carlo, 2 Feb
  • Majorca, 4 Feb
  • Algiers, 5 Feb
  • Tangier, 7 Feb
  • Las Palmas, 12 Feb
  • Freetown, 16 Feb
  • Dakar, 18 Feb
  • Tenerife, 21 Feb
  • Casablanca, 25 Feb
  • Cadiz, 2 Mar
  • Lisbon, 4 Mar
  • Liverpool. 8 Mar

On board was the World Chief Scout, Lord Baden-Powell and his family; they attended Scout Rallies at each port.[3] It may be that this was a "shake-down" cruise to test the ship.

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.

Troopship[edit]

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

,

During World War II, the Duchess was requisitioned as a troopship, and also played a role in transporting the Tizard Mission, which brought secret military equipment and designs from Britain to the United States. On September 6, 1940, she delivered the Mission, including highly secret and important equipment such as the cavity magnetron, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The Mission then went onward by land to the United States. She also transported men to the fighting in North Africa, stopping briefly in Algiers to disembark troops on November 14, 1942.[4]

Empress[edit]

Empress of Canada at the Port of Montreal, July 1947.

War losses reduced the Canadian Pacific fleet considerably and post war only the Liverpool to Montreal service was resumed. The two surviving cabin class Duchesses were upgraded to "Empress" status and refitted with accommodation for 400 1st class and 300 tourist passengers (down from the pre-war three class total of 1,570). In May 1946 "Duchess of Richmond" arrived at the Govan yard of Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering for her overhaul and refit. Upon completion she was renamed "Empress of Canada" on July 12, 1947 and sailed on Canadian Pacific's first post-war Liverpool-Montreal sailing four days later.

On 25 January 1953 "Empress of Canada" caught fire and heeled over against the dock wall at Gladstone Dock, Liverpool. Re-floated after being righted by parbuckling,[5] 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.[5]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "1160631". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 21 June 2009. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ Buchan, William. (1982) John Buchan: a Memoir, p. 224.
  3. ^ From my mother's journal, to be "put up" shortly. I'll insert the URL when it's ready.
  4. ^ Netherlands Navy: "Mystery photos". Archived 13 February 2011 at WebCite
  5. ^ 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. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]