Empress of Asia - Maiden Voyage
May 3, 1914 - Record Crossing
Yokohama to Race Rocks, British Columbia: 9 days 2 hours 44 minutes
Average speed: 19.19 knots
Senior Officer: Captain Samuel Robinson
Note: On Thursday, April 30, 1914 the EMPRESS OF ASIA logged 473 nautical miles in 23 hours and 10 minutes. The average speed attained that day was 20.4 knots.
April, 1918 - Russian Railway Service Corps
In 1917 the Russian Railway Service Corps left the United States for Russia by way of Japan. The Corps was composed of American railway personnel who had been dispatched to assist the Kerensky government of Russia to maintain and develop the Trans-Siberian Railway. However, by the time the Corps reached Japan the Kerensky government had been replaced by the Bolsheviks. Some of the Corps were to remain in Japan and later serve in Siberia. Others, not needed in Asia because of the changing political climate, were returned from Japan to the United States, including one group aboard the EMPRESS OF ASIA arriving in Victoria and Vancouver on April 29th, 1918. France was reported as the next assignment of this group.
1919 - Asia Land Settlement Committee
Hundreds of World War I veterans returning home on the Empress of Asia decide to settle together in a co-operative farming community upon their return home to British Columbia. After meetings with both the Provincial and Federal Governments, a 14,000 acre lot of land in the Courtney Valley is settled by 120 veterans and their families. For more details, please see the Asia Land Settlement Committee page.
October 2, 1919 - Collision
On October 2nd, 1919, while outbound from Hong Kong and en route to Shanghai, the EMPRESS OF ASIA collided and destroyed a Junk that was sailing from Shantou to the fishing grounds. The collision occurred at night, 145 miles Northeast of Hong Kong. .
When the EMPRESS OF ASIA sailed from Vancouver for the Far East on February 19th, 1920 several movies were included as entertainment for travelers. The Vancouver Sun issue of February 18th, 1920 stated that the ship would show five films with famous stars, five comedies and five films that showed the natural beauties of Canada as seen form a CPR transcontinental train. Motion pictures were to become a regular feature of entertainment and with dances, dining and deck games form the core of onboard social activities.
April 17, 1921 - Record Crossing
Yokohama to Race Rocks, British Columbia: 8 days 21 hours 38 minutes
Average speed: 19.65 knots
Senior Officer: Captain A.J. Hailey, Chief Engineer James Lamb
Note: G.M. Bosworth, Chairman of Canadian Pacific Ocean Services Lt. was on board as a passenger.
June 12, 1921 - Record Crossing
Yokohama to Race Rocks, British Columbia: approximately 8 days 19 hours 6 minutes
Average speed: approximately 19.83 knots
Senior Officer: Captain A.J. Hailey
The EMPRESS OF ASIA is reported to have experienced good sailing weather and to have reached Race Rocks in record time, reducing the achievement of April 17th, 1921 by 2� hours.
October 5, 1922 - Collision
On October 5th, 1922, while docked at Victoria, the EMPRESS OF ASIA was struck by the American steamer DOROTHY ALEXANDER. The collision occurred as the DOROTHY ALEXANDER was attempting to dock. .
February 23, 1924 - Collision
July 20, 1924 - Record Crossing
Yokohama to Race Rocks, British Columbia: 8 days 14 hours 48 minutes
Average speed: 20.29 knots
Senior Officers: Captain L.D. Douglas, Chief Engineer R.H. Shaw
August 10, 1924 - Collision
In the darkness of the early morning of August 10, 1924, the EMPRESS OF ASIA, sailing towards Yokohama from Victoria, collided with the NAKAYOSHI MARU. The NAKAYOSHI MARU, a Japanese fishing vessel with a crew of 40 was from the port of Kuwagasaki in the Prefecture of Iwate. The collision occurred approximately 290 nautical miles north east of Yokohama.
The EMPRESS OF ASIA immediately launched a lifeboat to offer aid. No injuries were reported on either ship, however the NAKAYOSHI MARU sustained damage to her masts and upper bow but was able to proceed without assistance.
January, 1926 - Leona Kearns of the Philadelphia Bobbies
On the voyage that concluded upon reaching Victoria on January 29th, 1926, the EMPRESS OF ASIA encountered a violent and massive storm that raged over 3,000 square miles of the North Pacific and battered the ship from Yokohama to Vancouver Island. The barometer dipped to 28.26, a reading associated with hurricanes, and wind velocities of 70 miles an hour were reported. Large waves washed over the lower portions of the ship and it was at times necessary to reduce speed.
The Philadelphia Bobbies, a girls baseball team, had played a series of games in the Orient during 1925. Three members of the team boarded the EMPRESS OF ASIA in Japan to travel home to the United States.
Two team members, Leona Kearns and Nelly Shanks, ventured onto the Second Class deck during the storm. The two were caught by a huge wave that covered the deck. Leona Kearns lost her life when swept overboard. Nelly Shanks, although bruised, was saved by a railing. The EMPRESS OF ASIA turned around in the storm and circled the location of the mishap, but found no one.
Courtesy of Drew Waveryn
January 11, 1926 - Collision
On January 11th, 1926, while outbound from Shanghai, the EMPRESS OF ASIA collided with the 1,900-ton steamer TUNGSHING. The collision occurred near Blackpoint on the Whangpoa River. The TUNGSHING was owned by the Indo-China Steam Navigation Company and was bound from Hong Kong to Shanghai.
The TUNGSHING sank while unsuccessfully attempting to make shore and ten lives were reported lost.
1926-1927 - Hankow: The removal of refugees from Shanghai
During 1926 and 1927 nationalist sentiment in the Hankow (Wuhan) region of China became intense. Increasingly this activity began to be directed at the British presence in the region and the privileged position that Britain enjoyed at its concession at Hankow.
During this period of unrest many British residents abandoned the region usually travelling down the Yangtze River to Shanghai. At Shanghai during this period, the lobbies of hotels were converted to dormitories to accommodate the refugees.
August 1, 1927 - Record Silk Shipment
The EMPRESS OF ASIA, commanded by L. D. Douglas, concluded a Pacific crossing upon reaching Vancouver on August 1st, 1927. On this voyage the ship carried the largest silk shipment ever loaded in her holds; measuring 1,000 tons and valued at $12,000,000.00. A special train of 20 cars awaited the arrival of the ship at Vancouver to expedite the raw silk to mills on the East Coast.
February, 1928 - Storm
The EMPRESS OF ASIA, commanded by A. J. Hailey, concluded a Pacific crossing upon reaching Vancouver on February 13th, 1928. The ship reached Victoria 11 hours behind schedule, having been delayed by a terrific storm that struck 2 days out of Yokohama. Captain Hailey is reported to have described the storm as producing the heaviest seas that he had ever experienced in his long career. One large wave hit the bridge, breaking many windows despite the fact that the structure is 65 feet above the waterline. The wave poured into the bridge and nearly swept the helmsman and Officer of the watch away. While the ship was pitching and rolling during the storm, a floating object was struck, damaging the port propeller.
July 5, 1931 - Expanded Service to Hawaii, announcement of
J. J. Forster, Canadian Pacific Steamships general passenger agent announced on July 5th, 1931 that in recognizing the increasing popularity of Hawaii as a destination for North American travelers, the EMPRESS OF ASIA would be placed in the Vancouver-Victoria-Honolulu service in the winter of 1931 and summer of 1932. Honolulu would be called upon sailing westward on December 25th, 1931 and sailing eastward, visited again on June 4th, 1932.
November 12, 1931 � HMS PETERSFIELD
On November 12th, 1931 the British minesweeper HMS PETERSFIELD, sailing from Shanghai to Hong Kong, encountered a storm and ran aground on Tungyin Island, approximately 420 Nautical miles north east of Hong Kong. Aboard the PETERSFIELD was Admiral Howard Kelly, Commander of the British Naval Forces at China Station. The PETERSFIELD made a SOS call that was answered by the EMPRESS OF ASIA and the German liner DEFLINGER. Both ships stood by at the accident site and participated in the rescue of the crew of the minesweeper. All were successfully rescued, however the PETERSFIELD was a total loss.
December 16, 1934 - Cape Ortegal
September 9, 1937 - Collision with the SOUDAN in the Whangpu River
The EMPRESS OF ASIA was at Shanghai on September 9th, 1937 having arrived from Japan with many passengers who, fearful of an expanding Asian war, were evacuating Japan and returning to China. When the ship attempted to leave the dock at Shanghai and sail to Hong Kong, the current in the Whangpoo River dragged the ship out of control. The stern swung out into midstream of the Whangpu, and a lighter was smashed, the towline to an assisting tug was broken, and the P&O liner SOUDAN was sideswiped. Fortunately the damage to either ship appears not to have been severe and the EMPRESS OF ASIA reached Hong Kong on September 10th, 1937.
December 10, 1937 - The loss of the PRESIDENT HOOVER
On December 10, 1937, the PRESIDENT HOOVER of the Dollar Steamship Company ran aground on Hoishoto Island, approximately 20 nautical miles east of the Taiwanese city of Tai-tung. The PRESIDENT HOOVER, a 21,900-ton passenger liner, had been sailing from Kobe to Manila when the mishap occurred.
The PRESIDENT HOOVER made a distress call that was answered by several vessels including the EMPRESS OF ASIA and the German freighter PREUSSEN.
The EMPRESS OF ASIA, commanded by George Goold, was sailing from Hong Kong to Nagasaki and was approximately 260 miles away when the distress call was received. The EMPRESS OF ASIA changed course and sailed at full speed to the site of the wreck along with the PREUSSEN and number of other ships that offered assistance.
No loss of life occurred from the grounding of the PRESIDENT HOOVER but the ship was considered a total loss.
On March 18th, 1938 Dr. J. W. McIntosh, Vancouver Health Officer, reported that a crewmember arriving in Vancouver on March 12th, 1938 aboard the EMPRESS OF ASIA had been diagnosed with typhoid fever and consequently all crewmembers would be immunized immediately.
April 22, 1938 - E H Gibbon Incident
Elwyn Gibbon, a 27-year-old American pilot from Everett Washington, was returning home to the United States during April of 1938. Gibbon had served as a pilot in the Chinese Air Force as a member of unit called the Foreign Volunteer Squadron during a period of 1937-1938 when hostilities with Japanese forces were experienced. When he left this position he decided to return to the United States and booked a passage on the EMPRESS OF ASIA, en route to Vancouver, for himself and his wife.
When the EMPRESS OF ASIA reached Yokohama on April 22nd, 1938, Gibbon was promptly removed by Japanese authorities for interrogation. The authorities sought strategic intelligence and information on Chinese air attacks on Japanese positions at Pengpu in Anhwei Province and Formosa during 1938.
The EMPRESS OF ASIA sailed from Yokohama on April 23rd, leaving Gibbon in Japanese custody. Mrs. Gibbon remained with the ship and arrived in Vancouver on May 2nd, 1938.
Gibbon was eventually released on April 28th, and on May 3rd, 1938, sailed aboard the PRESIDENT TAFT bound for North America.
August 6, 1938 - The Rescue of Lim Cheong Hee
The EMPRESS OF ASIA, commanded by George Goold, sailed from Hong Kong for Vancouver on August 5th, 1938. The following day a bamboo raft was sighted with a single occupant who was subsequently rescued by the EMPRESS OF ASIA. The rescued individual, Lim Cheong Hee, a 62 year old fisherman from the village of Wai Lai in Kwantung Province in China, had been adrift for four days after having been blown off shore by a gale. He was treated for exposure and left the ship at Shanghai.
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