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Empress of Ireland

Mitchell Library

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Empress of Ireland

The ill-fated liner Empress of Ireland, photographed at sea from the deck of another ship. Built by the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co for the Canadian Pacific Railway Co, she was launched in 1906. With her 14,191 tons and 17-knot service speed, the Empress of Ireland was one of the largest and fastest ships operating on the Canadian run.

Early on the morning of 29 May 1914, bound from Quebec to Liverpool, Empress of Ireland encountered dense fog in the St Lawrence River and after an approaching ship was sighted, she put her engines astern. She was struck broadside, between her funnels, by the Norwegian collier Storstad. The damage to Empress of Ireland was so great that her watertight doors could not be closed. She capsized and sank after only 15 minutes, with only four lifeboats launched.

172 crew members and 840 passengers died, the largest number of passenger fatalities of any peacetime maritime accident. There were 465 survivors, including Captain Henry Kendall. The official enquiry blamed the captain of the Storstad. It was the greatest disaster in Canadian maritime history, and the heaviest death toll for any ship built in Glasgow.

Reference: Mitchell Library, 177286

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning

Keywords:
accidents, Canadian Pacific Railway Co, disasters, Empress of Ireland, Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co, liners, passenger ships, St Lawrence River, Storstad



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