Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
RMS Empress of Ireland
Launched on January 26, 1906, the Empress of Ireland measured 570 feet in length with a beam of 66 feet and displacement of 14,191 tons. Her service speed was 18 knots (2 propellers) and she had a capacity of 1,580 passengers and crew.
The vessel, along with her sister ship RMS Empress of Britain , was commissioned by Canadian Pacific Line for the northern trans-Atlantic route between Quebec, Canada and the United Kingdom. Interestingly, Empress of Ireland and Empress of Britain were to be named Empress of Austria and Empress of Germany respectively, however the names were changed prior to launching. Both ships had been conceived for hauling mail but soon distinguished themselves as ocean liners, connecting with the parent Canadian Pacific Railway at Quebec City or Montreal. The CPR and its ocean liners were part of the company's self-proclaimed World's Greatest Transportation System.
The Empress of Ireland departed Quebec City at 1630h (local time) on May 29, 1914 with 1,477 passengers and crew for Liverpool. Early the next morning on May 30, 1914, the ship was proceeding down the channel in the Saint Lawrence River near Pointe-au-Pere, Quebec (north of the town of Rimouski) in a heavy fog bank. At 0200h (local time), the Empress of Ireland collided with the Norwegian coal freighter Storstad. The Storstad did not sink, but the Empress of Ireland with severe damage to it's starbord hull, turned on it's side as it rapidly took on water, and sank within 14 minutes, killing 1,012 passengers and crewmen. There were only about 473 survivors.
Henry George Kendall had just been promoted to captain of the Empress of Ireland at the beginning of the month and it was his first trip down the Saint Lawrence River in command of the vessel.
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