Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Largest, Fastest, most Luxurious Ship Afloat

This wonderful photograph of the RMS Empress of Britain, being completed in 1930 by the John Brown shipyard in Glasgow, was found via Twitter - a great resource for finding new and old photography. 

The image itself is impressive and was featured on the historical pics twitter feed, but the photo just had a short caption without revealing the ship's amazing history, for the Empress of Britain holds a unique record.

In 1930, the ship was launched and went to work on the busy Trans-Atlantic shipping routes, running from Europe to Canada during 1931 to 1939. At the time, she was the largest, fastest and most luxurious ship afloat nicknamed 'The World’s Wondership'. Probably the ultimate example of the 1930's liner reflecting the romanticism of the era, the Empress' real footnote in history however would occur during World War II.

The Empress of Britain was requisitioned as a troop carrier by the British government. Her time in service as part of the war effort was short. On 26th October 1940, the ship was attacked by Luftwaffe aircraft and set on fire. With most of the crew and passengers picked up by the Royal Navy, tugs attempted to tow the badly damaged ship back to harbour but a German U-boat, U-32 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Hans Jenisch, saw her and fired three torpedoes finally dooming the rescue effort. 

The Empress of Britain finally sank just after 02:00hrs off the coast of Ireland and after nine years of service at sea, entered the history books as the largest liner (42,348 gross tons) sunk by a U-Boat during World War II. She sits, upside down, in 500 feet of water with most of her deck missing due to the fire.

1 comment:

Linda said...

I know this is an old post but I just found your blog today and this is the post Google led me to. That is an amazing ship!