CANADIAN PACIFIC STEAMSHIP COMPANY
Above, Canadian Pacific's 18,357 ton EMPRESS OF FRANCE steams across the isthmus of Panama on May 16th. 1925 during a world cruise. The liner, launched as ALSATIAN for the ALLEN lINE IN 1913, was broken up in 1934/35.
The EMPRESS OF BRITAIN (II) was built in 1956 for Canadian Pacific. 25,516 gross tonnage, 640ft overall, geared turbines, twin screw, 21 knots, 1050 passengers. She operated between the U.K. and Canada and as a cruise liner. She was sold to the Greek Line in 1964 and became the QUEEN ANNA MARIA eventually being bought by Carnival Cruise Lines in 1975 and renamed CARNIVALE.
The Second World War dealt a severe blow to the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company with a large portion of its fleet being
lost, including the prestigious North Atlantic flagship EMPRESS OF BRITAIN (1931/42,348grt) which was sunk in 1940. Of
the major pre-war ships, only three survived: the DUCHESS OF BEDFORD (1928/20,123GRT), DUCHESS OF RICHMOND (1928/20,022grt)
of the North Atlantic fleet and EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND(1930/26,032grt) of the Pacific fleet. The DUCHESS OF BEDFORD and DUCHESS
OF RICHMOND were the second and third ships respectively of an original class of four. When these entered service they set
new standards for Cabin Class liners.
The EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND was originally names EMPRESS OF JAPAN but this was changed to the new name on October 16th. 1942 following
Japan's entry into the Second World War. As EMPRESS OF JAPAN she was the fastest passenger ship on the Vancouver-Yokohama
Pacific service, breaking the speed record for the run by some four and a half hours immediately she entered service. This
record was still unbeaten when war broke out in 1939. Driven by Parsons single-reduction geared turbines of 34,000shp, she
was designed for a service speed of 21 knots but managed 23 knots on her trials. Passenger accommodation comprised 400 First
Class, 164 Second Class, 100 Third Class and 548 Asiatic Steerage.
Both ships were completely transformed inside and out, with passenger numbers being reduced from 1,570 in three classes to
400 First Class with 143 cabins and 300 Tourist Class with 100 cabins. Thus Third Class was completely abolished, the space
being utilised to improve the crew's accommodation and to increase the cargo capacity of each ship. The former open promenades
on Promenade Deck were glazed and the public rooms redecorated, in some cases being enlarged in the process of rebuilding.
EMPRESS OF BRITAIN II
She was imposing, stately and dignified. Many called her beautiful but a few critics found fault in the size of her funnels and the heaviness of her stern. Her white hull and three funnels made her easily identifiable on the North Atlantic, while her size distinguished her at once at numerous ports on world cruises. The EMPRESS OF BRITAIN II, Canadian Pacific's largest passenger ship, was launched on June 11th. 1930 at John Brown & Co. of Clydebank. She made her maiden crossing from Southampton to Quebec the following year. Until the Second World War interrupted her routine, she spent her summers on the St. Lawrence-Europe route and her winters on world cruises.
The 'BRITAIN' had a gross registered tonnage of 42,348 and was 760 feet 6 inches in overall length while her breadth was 97 feet 6 inches. Although at that time motor ships were gaining in popularity, the latest addition fo CP's fleet was a steamship. Her engines and boilers were built by Brown's. The four screws were driven by quadruple-geared singel-reduction turbines. The ship's propelling machinery was designed to develope 62,500 shaft horspower in order to maintain a normal speed of 24 knots under North Atlantic weather conditions.
In the early fifties Canadian Pacific was at last considering new tonnage. Cunard was engaged in a newbuilding programme
of four 22,000grt SAXONIA vessels designed specifically for the Canadian trade to replace their ageing pre-war fleet. Canadian
Pacific countered by ordering two 25,000grt ships, one from Fairfields at Govan and one from Vickers Armstrong on the Tyne.
The first of these twin sisters was ready for launching at Fairfields on June 22nd. 1955, and was named EMPRESS OF BRITAIN
by Her Majesty the Queen. The new liner was the third CP vessel to bear this name.
The picture above is typical of what might have been seen around Gladstone Dock in the late fifties. Although passengers would be joining the ship at the passenger terminal by the Liver Building within the next day or so crew members would join in advance. This scene shows off a series of attractive cars of the time, the family surrounding the Ford Zephyr wishes their father 'bon voyage' as he joins the EMPRESS OF ENGLAND for another trip to Montreal.
On New Year's Day 1957 the EMPRESS OF BRITAIN sailed from Liverpool with some 500 Hungarian refugees seeking a new life in Canada. The EMPRESS OF FRANCE continued in service until December 1960. Surprisingly, she was given an extensive refit during the winter 1958/59 which included the fitting of cowl tops to her funnels and the reorganisation of the accommodation to provide 218 First Class berths and 482 Tourist Class berths. Right up until the end she maintained her Atlantic schedules and was never deployed in seasonal cruises. In December 1960 she was sold to shipbreakers at Newport, Gwent, and arrived at the yard on 22nd. of the month. She was replaced in service several months later by a new EMPRESS OF CANADA which sailed on her maiden voyage on 24th. April 1961 - the last "Empress".
The 8.2m pound EMPRESS OF CANADA was built at Vickers Armstrong and was laid down in January of 1959. She was launched on May 10th. 1960 by Mrs. John G. Diefenbaker, wife of the Canadian Prime Minister. The third EMPRESS OF CANADA, she was built to the same general dimensions as the earlier postwar ships except for a slight increase in length due to a curved stem and a modest increase in beam. The new improved EMPRESS OF CANADA was of a more modern 'built-up' appearance. Although her tonnage was greater than the other ships, she carried less passengers. Cargo capacity was also reduced.
Designed from the outset to be dual purpose, it was envisaged that she would maintain trans-Atlantic schedules for most of
the year with off-season cruising. The bulbous bow fitted to the EMPRESS OF CANADA was claimed to give her an excess of 2
knots speed advantage over her fleet mates using the same machinery. The hull was strengthened for in ice and stabilisers
and full air-conditioning was fitted, as with the earlier pair. The indoor pool was augmented by a fibre glass insert which
could be installed and filled for use on cruises. Passenger numbers were 1,048 two class passengers trans-Atlantic, this being
limited to 750 one class passengers on cruises.
CONVERSION FOR CRUISING:
In January 1970 Canadian Pacific announced the impending withdrawal of the EMPRESS OF ENGLAND. On the basis of the previous year's operation it was projected that a loss of several million dollars was forecast for 1970. Canadian Pacific stressed their determination to keep the EMPRESS OF CANADA in service. The EMPRESS OF ENGLAND was withdrawn on April 1st. 1970 and two days later was sold to Shaw Savill, being renamed OCEAN MONARCH. OCEAN MONARCH proved to be a dismal failure, suffering from faulty air-conditioning, high fuel consumption, high crew costs, mechanical unreliability and loss of image. After severe engine trouble iin September 1974 she was sold to Taiwanese breakers.
Above, the former EMPRESS OF CANADA became the MARDI GRAS in February of 1972. The 27,250grt vessel was described as "the largest cruise ship sailing ouf of Miami" at that time, when making her maiden departure the following month
The EMPRESS OF CANADA continued to cross the Atlantic and sail on cruises. Late in 1970 she operated out of Southampton rather than Liverpool for her winter cruise season but transferred back to Liverpool for the following season's trans-Atlantic voyages. Suddenly, on November 9th 1971, the company announced that they were going to withdraw the ship following her arrival at Liverpool on November 23rd. The liner had been plagued with undustrial unrest; in particular the stewards department persistently demanded the use of passenger facilities at various times throughout the day whilst at sea. With other mounting problems such as increasing costs and dwindling passenger numbers, Canadian Pacific saw no hope in struggling on. In January of 1971 EMPRESS OF CANADA was sold to Carnival Cruise Lines of Miami.
For information regarding the EMPRESS OF ASIA which was bombed entering Singapore on February 5th. 1942 please click here. Site created by Nelson Oliver.
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