SS Mount Temple
SS Mount Temple aground at West Ironbound Island.
|Namesake:||Baron Mount Temple|
|Builder:||Armstrong Whitworth & Co., Walker|
|Launched:||18 June 1901|
|Sponsored by:||Mrs. Swan|
|Completed:||19 September 1901|
|Maiden voyage:||19 September 1901|
|Fate:||Scuttled, 6 December 1916|
|Type:||Passenger Cargo Ship|
|Length:||485 ft 0 in (147.83 m)|
|Beam:||59 ft 0 in (17.98 m)|
|Depth:||30 ft 4 in (9.25 m)|
|Installed power:||694 Nhp|
|Speed:||12.0 knots (13.8 mph; 22.2 km/h)|
|Capacity:||1,250 3rd-class and 14 cabin-class passengers|
|Armament:||3-inch naval gun during WWI|
Mount Temple was a passenger cargo steamship built in 1901 by Armstrong Whitworth & Co. of Newcastle for Elder, Dempster Shipping of Liverpool to operate as part of their Beaver Line. The ship was shortly afterwards acquired by Canadian Pacific Lines and was one of the vessels that responded to the distress signals of the RMS Titanic in 1912.
In 1916, while crossing the Atlantic with horses for the war effort and carrying a large number of newly collected dinosaur fossils (two of which were the hadrosaurs Corythosaurus), she was captured and scuttled complete with her cargo.
- 1 Design and Construction
- 2 Operational history
- 3 Notes
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Design and Construction
Following acquisition of Beaver Line in 1899 and resolving all the legal questions surrounding it, Elder, Dempster & Co. placed an order for a vessel of approximate 11,000 deadweight to run on this line between Liverpool and Canadian ports and New Orleans. Mount Temple was laid down at Armstrong Whitworth & Co. shipyard in Walker and launched on 18 June 1901 (yard number 709), with Mrs. Swan, wife of Colonel Henry Frederick Swan, being the sponsor. At the time, she was the largest ship ever built at Low Walker Yard.
After successful completion of sea trials on September 19, 1901, during which the ship was able to maintain an average speed of 11 1⁄2 knots (13.2 mph; 21.3 km/h) over several runs on the measured mile on the Tyne in very unfavorable weather, she was transferred to her owners and immediately departed for New Orleans. The vessel was constructed for general cargo trade, and had an iron shelter deck built over the whole length of the ship, good for about 1,100 heads of cattle. She also had all the modern machinery fitted for quick loading and unloading of the cargo. In addition, the ship was fitted with refrigerating machinery and insulated chambers to carry dairy produce and chilled meat.
As built, the ship was 485 feet 0 inches (147.83 m) long (between perpendiculars) and 59 feet 0 inches (17.98 m) abeam, a depth of 30 feet 4 inches (9.25 m). Mount Temple was originally assessed at 7,656 GRT and 4,989 NRT and had deadweight of approximately 11,200. The vessel had a steel hull, and two 694 nhp triple-expansion steam engine, with cylinders of 22-inch (56 cm), 37-inch (94 cm) and 61-inch (150 cm) diameter with a 48-inch (120 cm) stroke, that drove two screw propellers, and moved the ship at up to 12.0 knots (13.8 mph; 22.2 km/h).
After delivery to her owners on September 19, Mount Temple was chartered by the Imperial Government to transport remounts for the British Army fighting in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. She departed for her maiden journey on the same day for New Orleans and arrived there on October 9.
In the Imperial Government Service
As the steamer entered the service late in 1901, she only made three trips in Admiralty service before the war ended at the end of May 1902. Following her last trip to South Africa she started her normal commercial service.
|Date of departure||Port of departure||Date of arrival||Port of arrival||No. of remounts embarked||Other cargo|
|5 November 1901||New Orleans||7 December 1901||Durban||1,100 horses||286 tons hay, 66 tons bran, 6,875 bushels oats, 1,571 bushels corn, 1,100 halters|
|4 February 1902||New Orleans||8 March 1902||Durban||1,100 horses||256 tons hay, 60 tons bran, 6,930 bushels oats, 1,600 bushels corn, 1,100 halters|
|30 April 1902||New Orleans||28 May 1902||Durban||1,100 horses||265 tons hay, 60 tons bran, 6,930 bushels oats, 1,600 bushels corn, 1,100 halters|
Commercial service for Elder, Dempster & Co
After the end of hostilities in South Africa Mount Temple sailed back to England and arrived at South Shields on July 6, 1902. She departed for her first commercial trip on August 27 for New Orleans in ballast and reached her destination on September 15. There the vessel took on board a cargo consisting of cotton, wheat and lumber and left New Orleans on October 1 for Liverpool via Havre. While leaving the port, the steamer ran aground outside the South Pass, but was successfully refloated next day and continued her journey. The steamer conducted one more trip in November–December 1902 to Galveston, where the steamer loaded the port's third largest cargo of cotton at the time, and brought it back to Liverpool, and another one in January–February 1903 when she transported a large cargo of cotton, wheat and lumber from New Orleans to Havre.
On February 24, 1903, while Mount Temple was still en route, it was announced that Canadian Pacific Railway acquired 14 steamers from Elder, Dempster Shipping, serving mostly on Beaver and Elder Lines, for £1,417,500.
Service with Canadian Pacific Lines
After completing all the transfer requirement, Mount Temple was redesigned to allow the vessel to carry large number of passengers and equipping her with a wireless telegraph. In the early days of wireless telegraphy, the call sign established for the Mount Temple was "MLQ.". Following the redesign, the vessel was also reassessed at 8,790 GRT and 6,661 NRT. Mount Temple departed Liverpool for her first voyage under new ownership on May 12, 1903 carrying 12 cabin and 1,200 steerage passengers for Quebec City and about 1,000 tons of general cargo for Montreal. She returned to Liverpool on June 10 with a cargo of 1,361 heads of cattle, wheat, hay and other produce. The steamer conducted five more runs between Liverpool and Montreal until the end of navigation season on the St. Lawrence River in November 1903, carrying general cargo and immigrants from Europe to Canada, and returning with cattle, foodstuffs and lumber. She was subsequently reassigned to the London–Antwerp–Canada route, serving St. John and Halifax during winter seasons, and Montreal during summers. For example, on April 18, 1905 she brought in 1,922 immigrants to St. John, the largest number brought by a single ship at the time, destined for settlement in Western Canada.
Stranding in 1907
Mount Temple left Antwerp on November 20, 1907 on her usual route to St. John, carrying around 6,000 tons of general cargo and 633 passengers. She was under command of captain Boothby and had a crew of approximately 150. After passing Cape Pine, the captain took soundings in the morning of December 1 to ascertain the ship's position. By late afternoon the weather deteriorated, becoming overcast, with occasional snow squalls appearing. At around midnight, the captain retired leaving the watch to the second officer, Griffith Owen Lewis, with an order to call him if the weather worsened. Between 01:00 and 02:00 on December 2, the vessel ran into a series of snow squalls which got progressively stronger and more persistent. At about 02:30 it started snowing heavily and visibility was reduced severely to only about half a length of the ship. At approximately 02:35 the look-out reported a light ahead, which the second officer erroneously interpreted as another ship closing in. He ported the ship, and at 02:44 Mount Temple struck on the rocks of the West Ironbound Island. As the ship struck, the rocks pierced the steamer's hull right around the engine room flooding it and extinguishing the fires. A huge tidal wave then smashed over the vessel, destroying about half of the lifeboats on board.
Several distress signals were made but due to rough weather no help could be dispatched until the next morning. At daylight it was observed that Mount Temple was on the ledges of the island and there were about 75 feet between the steamer and the cliffs. Since it was unsafe to disembark the passengers down the sides of the ship into the waters, the crew managed to get the cable from the ship tied directly to the cliffs, and started transferring people in a basket tied to the cable. As the sea subsided, the lifeboats were employed to speed up the evacuation, and the help arrived in the form of several fishing vessels, schooners Hazel and Guide, and tug Trusty. By about 17:00 on December 3 all passengers were successfully moved from the wrecked ship to the island, and 150 of them were taken to Bridgewater by Trusty. The rest of the passengers had to spend a night on the island, and were safely brought to Halifax the next day by the Canadian government steamer Lady Laurier.
The ship was left stranded in a dangerous position and the chances of getting the vessel off were considered very slim, however, a new storm that hit the area on December 6 had shifted the steamer about twenty feet closer to the island, and with that her position had markedly improved. Mount Temple had to spend the winter stranded, but was not damaged by the storms, and three attempts were made to float the steamer in February 1908, yet all of them proved to be unsuccessful. Finally, on April 15, 1908 the ship was successfully refloated and was able to proceed under her own steam to Lunenburg.
On May 19, 1908 it was reported that the repair contract was awarded to the Newport News Shipbuilding Co. and Mount Temple proceeded to Newport News from Halifax in tow on May 22. The steamer sailed from Newport News on August 22 for Quebec City after almost three months of repairs, which cost Canadian Pacific approximately $140,000. Upon arrival she loaded her usual cargo and left September 2 for London, resuming her regular service.
On October 14, 1911 while entering Gravesend Mount Temple collided with an Australian steamer SS Osterley anchored at Tilbury Dock, causing some slight damage to her bow.
On January 18, 1912 Mount Temple on her trip from Halifax to London under command of captain Moore encountered steamer SS Dart about 800 miles east-northeast of Halifax, drifting helplessly with broken rudder. She spent the night standing by but did not connect the towing cables and abandoned Dart the next day.
Assisting the RMS Titanic
Mount Temple set out on her usual voyage at 14:00 on April 3, 1912 from Antwerp bound for St. John. The steamer was under command of captain James Henry Moore and was carrying 1,461 immigrants to Canada. On the night of 14–15 April, Mount Temple's Marconi wireless operator, John Durrant, was about to sign off for the evening when at around 00:11 ship's time (22:25 New York time) he picked up the distress signal from RMS Titanic, which had its encounter with an iceberg. He had the message relayed to the bridge by a steward, and after acknowledging the receipt of the signal, did not call the Titanic again in order not to jam the ongoing exchange with other ships, which he assumed to be closer to the scene. Captain Moore had standing orders to avoid icebergs, but after receiving the distress call he decided to mount a rescue operation. He immediately turned his ship around and steamed north-northeast at an estimated speed of 11 1⁄2 knots (13.2 mph; 21.3 km/h) towards Titanic's last reported position of . He consulted with his chief engineer, John Gillet, to try to coax even more speed out of the ageing vessel. Moore worked out his own rough position as , approximately 49 nautical miles (91 km) away from the sinking liner. Even at full speed, it would take around 4 hours to cover the distance between his ship and Titanic.
Once underway, Moore had his off duty crew awakened and briefed and ordered the 20 lifeboats aboard uncovered. He had ropes and ladders readied, lifebelts prepared and posted extra lookouts to aid avoiding the icebergs reported in the area. Initial progress was good but after finding his ship coming upon a large ice field at around 03:00 on April 15, the vessel slowed until becoming increasingly surrounded by pack ice. Around this time, Mount Temple encountered what was thought to be a schooner with just a single green light, which went unidentified and caused the ship to take evasive action. This green light may have been a rocket or flare launched by either survivors of the Titanic or launched by RMS Carpathia speeding to the rescue. With the amount of ice becoming ever greater, Mount Temple heaved to around 14 nautical miles (26 km) short of the Titanic's last reported position at around 03:25 and continued drifting through the ice field until the daybreak. She reached the last known position of Titanic around 04:30, and found herself in a heavily packed ice-field, but no trace of survivors or wreckage. After approximately half an hour wait, Moore proceeded South-Southeast looking for an opening to pass thorough the pack ice, but eventually reversed course back to North-Northwest shadowing the western edge of the ice pack. Some time between 6:00 and 06:30 Carpathia, commanded by Captain Arthur Rostron, was sighted to the east of the vessel, and SS Californian was observed to the north cutting across the ice field from east to west. At 06:52, after the sunrise, Moore took prime vertical sight of the sun to determine his position and found out he was several miles east of Titanic's reported longitude and, using dead reckoning, concluded that her actual accident location to be approximately 8 miles further east, across the ice field in front of him.
Mount Temple sent a wireless request to Carpathia but received no answer. At around 08:30 Californian came along Carpathia as she was finishing picking up the last survivors. At 08:31 Carpathia reported picking up 20 boats, and sent another message at 09:26 telling everyone there was no more need to stand by, following which, Moore gave the order to reverse course and continue the voyage to New Brunswick. Once Mount Temple had docked at St. John on April 19, he was summoned to the American and later British inquests into the sinking.
As soon as Mount Temple reached Canada, she became the center of controversy as two passengers, and allegedly some crew members, stated that the ship was close to Titanic but failed to rush to her rescue. These speculations were discarded by both the American and British inquiries, and none of the Mount Temple officers either testified or submitted affidavits in support of these claims. Yet, controversy still remains concerning Mount Temple's position at the time of her receiving the distress call from Titanic, how far she was from Titanic when she stopped and Moore's decision to stop and never even attempt to cross the ice field. Rumors that Mount Temple under Moore ignored Titanic's distress rockets abounded at the time and persist to this day. It is said that Mount Temple was the "mystery ship" seen by officers and passengers aboard the Titanic five to ten miles away, rather than the SS Californian as implied by Lord Mersey and the British Board of Trade at the British Inquiry. These rumors are strongly contested however, and many continue to firmly believe that the Californian must have been the ship seen from the Titanic, and vice versa.
Grounding in 1913
On September 24, 1913 Mount Temple left Montreal at 05:20 for her regular trip, carrying a large cargo of grain for London and general cargo for Antwerp. She was still under command of captain Moore, and had a pilot on board. At the time of her departure, the weather was foggy. The vessel proceeded as far as the new drydock before changing her course too far south and subsequently ran aground opposite off Maissonneuve at 05:35 on the mud banks of Longueuil. Ten or eleven tugs were dispatched right away, but they could not refloat the ship. Refloat attempts continued the next day as the ship's general cargo was being partially discharged to lighten the ship, but they proved to be unsuccessful. As most of the cargo was taken out from the forward holds, the vessel stern sunk deeper into the mud, which prompted the rescuers to also unload the after holds to even the ship. The ship was also taking on water indicating that some bottom plates were damaged during the grounding. The steamer was eventually floated in the morning of September 26 and was taken to dock where she had to unload her cargo of grain. The situation was somewhat exacerbated by the fact that Montreal had limited grain discharging equipment installed being a grain export port. Following the unloading of her cargo which took almost a week, Mount Temple was repaired and released from the drydock on October 12.
Mount Temple continued trading on her route all the way until Great Britain entered the World War I on August 2, 1914. She arrived at London on August 5 with her usual cargo from Montreal, but on August 12 it was announced that the steamer was requisitioned together with many other large commercial vessels by the Admiralty to serve as a food and troop transport. In her transport capacity she sailed between England and France carrying troops and provision. For example, on February 12–15, 1915 Mount Temple carried 15th Battalion of the 48th Highlanders from Bristol to St Nazaire.
Some time during her war service she was equipped with a 3-inch naval gun on her stern for defensive purposes.
In August 1915 it was announced that Allan Line Steamships and Canadian Pacific Railway had merged forming a new company named Canadian Pacific Ocean Services, Ltd. As a result, Mount Temple was released by the British Admiralty back to her commercial service in October 1915.
Following the release, Mount Temple transported approximately 1,200 German POWs captured during the Battle of Loos from France to England before proceeding to Montreal, where she arrived on October 28, 1915.
Mount Temple departed Montreal for her final voyage on December 3, 1916 for Brest, and then continuing to Liverpool. The ship was under command of captain Alfred Henry Sargent and had a crew of 109. The ship carried a cargo of 710 horses and 6,250 tons of goods, including 3,000 tons of wheat, 1,400 cases of eggs, and several thousand cases of apples among other things. Also on board were 22 wooden crates of dinosaur fossils, collected in the Badlands of Alberta by the American paleontologist Charles H. Sternberg. These were en route to Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, keeper of the British Museum's Natural History Department.
The ship was captured roughly 620 nautical miles (1,150 km) W1/S off Fastnet in the early afternoon of December 6, 1916. The SMS Möwe, outwardly a cargo ship, caught up with the Mount Temple and fired a shot across her bow. After the gun crew of the Mount Temple manned the gun, the Germans fired back and with their superior firepower hit the funnel and the boat deck silencing the gun. Three crew members aboard the Mount Temple were killed in the brief battle, and the fourth was wounded and died aboard Möwe a few days later. Over a hundred crew and passengers were taken off before explosives were used to help scuttle her at approximately 18:00. On 12 December 1916, they were brought aboard the captured British ship Yarrowdale and they arrived at Swinemunde, Germany on 31 December. The US citizens among them were released in early March 1917 as the United States was neutral at the time. The others were interned as prisoners of war.
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