Tag Archives: Empress of Ireland

Survives Titanic But Is On Another Ship Disaster plus Titanic VR Coming Soon

RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

1. First Titanic, then Empress: an Irish Man’s Lucky Escapes
There are those that survive not one but two major disasters in their lifetime. Such is the case with William Clark of Greenore, County Louth, Ireland. He was reportedly in the Boer War. In 1912 he signed on as a fireman on Titanic and listed Southampton as his home. He was one of the few fireman to survive Titanic and was in lifeboat 15.

How he escaped he does not know. He was caught in the swirl of waters as the vessel plunged down – dragged down into the ocean depths with the crippled leviathan as she sank to her last resting place. Even then his abnormal luck did not desert him. He never thought to come up again, but the force of the boiler explosion lifted him and rushed him up to the surface. He struck out vigorously; was pulled aboard one of the boats, and came home to tell the tale.

Then in 1914 he was a fireman on Empress of Ireland when tragedy would strike there as well. On 29 May 1914, the ship collided with the Norwegian coal freighter Storstad in the Saint Louis River at Pointe-au-Père, Quebec. Unlike Titanic which took over two hours to sink, Empress of Ireland would sink quickly resulting in over 1,000 deaths. Clark escaped but his description shows how harrowing it was:

His lifeboat station was No. 5, and somehow or other he got there, but he cannot remember how she was launched. His mind is a blank concerning some of those awful moments spent on the canting decks of the doomed liner. They had to crawl on hands and knees on the sloping hull in order to get the boat clear, and then their best chance of escape was to plunge into the water in the hope of being able to scramble aboard. Clark was drawn under several times before he got into the boat, and afterwards, he said, they were able to pull about sixty men into her.

Clark would remark later that if there was any luck in the sea, he had it all. He surely did to survive two major ship disasters and live to tell the tale.
Sources:
1. First Titanic, then Empress: an Irish Man’s Lucky Escapes (Irish Times,27 Nov 18)
2. WILLIAM CLARK : FLIRTING WITH DEATH(Encyclopedia Titanica)

2.Irish firm’s virtual reality Titanic trip to launch on PlayStation (Irish Times, 15 Nov 2018)
Irish firm VR Education’s virtual reality trip on the Titanic is set for launch on Sony’s PlayStation later this month. Titanic VR puts players aboard the doomed vessel the night it hit an iceberg and sank in April 1912. It will be available from November 22nd. The Titanic experience has already been launched on PC, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality. But the company said it expects the PlayStation VR version to drive sales, replicating the experience of its Apollo 11 VR showcase.

Titanic and Related News

RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

1. Artifacts from Canada’s Titanic Heading To The Auction House
Artifacts from the Empress of Ireland that sank in 1914 are going to be auctioned off at Lunds Auctioneers and Appraisals in Victoria, British Columbia. For many years the wreck was easily accessible to divers until the 1990’s when the wreck was brought under government protection. The collection being auctioned off is expected to have pieces that will fetch between $100-$10,000 per item.
Source:Empress of Ireland artifacts put up for auction in Victoria (CHEK,27 May 2017)

2. Amazing aerial pictures show the £105m full-size Titanic replica set to be completed by this year as a part of a grand theme park in China (Daily Mail,10 May 2017)
Incredible images show the £105 million full-size Titanic replica taking shape in China’s Sichuan province. The ship is scheduled for completion at the end of this year and will open to members of the public in 2019. It will make up just part of a grand theme park which will also contain a manmade beach which will be open to tourists 365 days a year.

Titanic Belfast (side view)
Image:Prioryman (Wikipedia)

3. Titanic Belfast Celebrates Record-Breaking Year (Hospitality Ireland,11 May 2017)
Titanic Belfast’s chief executive, Tim Husbands, stated that “2016/17 was a really strong year. Not only did we have our busiest day ever in August 2016, with an increase in numbers from key markets including Britain, USA, China, France, Germany and Australia, but we were also crowned World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the prestigious World Travel Awards.”More than 82% of those who visited the attraction in 2016 were from outside Northern Ireland, with over 40% of all visitors asserting that Titanic Belfast represented the sole reason for their journey to Northern Ireland.

4. Well it had to happen.  Stephen Cummings is suing James Cameron for over $300 million claiming he stole the idea of Jack Dawson from him. He claims Cameron overheard him discussing the idea twenty years ago. That is not all, reports the UK Daily Mail. He also alleges that how the ship sank used in the movie came from him as well. Cameron has had no response to the lawsuit.  If Judge Judy were handling the case, she would likely dismiss it and castigate Cummings for wasting the courts time on something like this.
Source:=
James Cameron sued for ‘stealing the life story of a Florida man who worked in the yacht industry’ to create Leo DiCaprio’s character in Titanic (Daily Mail, 22 May 2017)


Empress Of Ireland Exhibit Opens In Halifax

 RMS Empress of Ireland 1908 Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)
RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

An exhibit honoring the Empress of Ireland opened this week in Halifax and will run for the year. “The exhibit includes historical documents, eyewitness accounts and 81 artifacts from the liner. One of those artifacts is a pair of pajamas worn by passenger John Langley, who survived the sinking in remarkable fashion,”reports CBC News.

Further information at Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

Source:Empress of Ireland ship sinking exhibit opens at Pier 21(CBC News,24 Nov 2015)

Remembering the Empress of Ireland

 RMS Empress of Ireland 1908 Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)
RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

The Titanic disaster of 1912 was still making waves when on 29 May 1914, the RMS Empress of Ireland collided with the Norwegian coal freighter Storstad in the Saint Louis River at  Pointe-au-Père, Quebec. It occurred around 0200 in the morning. Storstad hit the starboard side, causing severe damage. Empress began to list and quickly fill with water. Portholes had not been secured before leaving port so many were open (many passengers complained of poor ventilation) so that allowed a lot of water to enter. Many in the lower decks drowned from water coming in from the open portholes.

Also failure to close the watertight doors led to the quick sinking. Three lifeboats were launched quickly with passengers and crew that were in the upper deck cabins able to get away but as the ship listed further starboard, the other lifeboats could not be used. Ten minutes after the collision, Empress lurched violently on the starboard side allowing 700 passengers and crew to crawl out of portholes and decks on her side. Then 15 minutes later, after it briefly looked like she might have run aground, the hull sank dumping all the people left on her into the icy water. When the final tally was done, 1,012 people lost there lives. 465 survived. Many on the starboard side where asleep and likely drowned in their cabins.

The official enquiry, which began on 16 June 1914, was headed by Lord Mersey who had previously headed the British Titanic enquiry (he would also lead up the enquiry into Lusitania later). Two very different accounts emerged of the collision from the Storstad and Empress. At the end of the day, the commission determined that when Storstad changed course, it caused the collision. The Norwegians did not accept the verdict and held their own enquiry which exonerated the captain and crew of the Storstad. Canadian Pacific, which owned the now sunk Empress of Ireland, pursued a legal claim and won. The Norwegian owners countersued but in the end the liabilities forced them to sell Storstad to put money in the trust funds.

What happened to Empress, though not receiving the same attention as Titanic, was to change ship design. The reverse slanting bow was dangerous in ship-to-ship collisions resulting in below the waterline damage. Bows were redesigned so the energy of the collision would be minimized below the surface. Longitudinal bulkheads were discontinued as they trapped water beneath them causing the ship to list and capsizing. Needless to say portholes were to be secured from that point on (in fact nearly all cruise ships use decoratives that can never be opened). The wreck today has been salvaged many times and is now the only underwater historic site in Canada. The wreck is in shallow water (130 feet) but is notably dangerous dive due to the cold waters, currents, and often impaired visibility.

Sources:
1. The Empress Of Ireland Was Canada’s Titanic(2 Jul 2013, Niagarathisweek.com)

2. RMS Empress of Ireland(Wikipedia)

3. Royal Alberta Museum Online: The Empress of Ireland

Amazon books: Empress of Ireland

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Memorial Weekend Musings

 RMS Empress of Ireland 1908 Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)
RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

*The Empress of Ireland sank in the St. Lawrence River in 1914 after colliding with a freighter on 29 May 1914. It sank in just 14 minutes with a death toll of 1,012. It is one of the worst maritime disasters in Canada’s history but for a long time only lightly remembered. “Canada’s Titanic” as it is called was not well known outside of Canada, overshadowed by another ship’s tragedy–RMS Titanic. Today though people are starting to recall this terrible event and the lives lost according to news reports now that its centenary is approaching. Stories of the saved are being recalled and the dead remembered. According to The Province:

To mark the anniversary, the Maritime Museum of BC in Victoria has an exhibit of Klausen’s items. It is just one of the several Empress-related events across Canada. In Rimouski, the Pointe-au-Pere maritime museum, which has a pavilion dedicated to the Empress, will host a banquet and unveil a monument. Churches in Rimouski and nearby Ste-Luce plan to pay homage by ringing their bells in unison at 1:55 a.m., the time of the disaster.The Salvation Army, which dispatched 170 of its members on the ship to a rally in England, will hold its annual Empress ceremony Sunday at Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery as well as a reception May 31 in Rimouski. The organization lost 141 people, including Delamont, the Clarks and many of its Canadian leaders.

Sometimes it is easy to forget that Titanic, while a terrible tragedy, is not alone. There are other maritime tragedies out there that were just as impacting on families and organizations.
Sources
1. Empress Of Ireland, ‘Canada’s Titanic,’ Finally Getting Its Due After 100 Years (23 May 2014,The Province)
2.RMS Empress of Ireland (Wikipedia)
3. Empress of Ireland
4. Pointe-au-Père Historical Site

*Harland & Wolff is no longer constructing ships and works now with offshore structures that require heavy duty construction. Just recently though it set a world record by performing the world’s heaviest single point water load test. According to the Belfast Telegraph:

“The massive Samson gantry crane lifted an incredible 774 tonne load to certify Harland and Wolff’s latest spreader beam arrangement. Te actual test was over in a matter of minutes, however each water bag took 20 minutes to fill. The test was witnessed and certified by the Lloyds Ireland Surveyor Graham Knowles who was satisfied with the operation and pleased to participate in this unique world record.”

To say that is a lot of water is an understatement. Good to see old Harland & Wolff staying relevant in today’s changed maritime environment.
Source:Harland And Wolff Break World Record At Belfast Shipyard(23 May 2014,Belfast Telegraph)

*MasterChef is returning on Memorial Day this year. So we once again will go through the agony and triumph of watching the ‘cheftestants’ compete for the big monetary prize, cookbook, and glory. Over at Hell’s Kitchen, it is winding down but not fast enough. They ought to knock two out a week rather than stretch it out. We already know that there are fakers planted in the groups just to cause problems. Truthfully hard to see anyone worthy this season. More interesting is that except for one winner, no one ever gets the promised prize (there are various reasons for this) of becoming an executive chef for one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. Kitchen Nightmares is already over and this season was short but intense. Gordon seems to have powered down the turmoil and focusing on getting them attentive to making fresh food. And being sanitary in doing so as well!

*Memorial Day is here so take a moment or more to remember in your thoughts all the brave men and women who gave their lives for this country. Their bravery and sacrifice must never be forgotten. Happy Memorial Day everyone.