Friday photo - Empress of Australia

3:30 PM

Two photos today of the same ship or are they?

These are both photographs of the Empress of Australia, except one has three funnels and one only has two. To complicate things further there are two Empress of Australia's built in a similar period working as passenger liners for the Canadian Pacific Line.

There is a 1919 ship built in 1913 as the SS Tirpitz by the Vulcan AG Yard in Stettin. This ship was taken as a war prize in 1919 and eventually purchased by the Canadian Pacific Railway company.

There is also a 1924 ship built by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead. She was refitted for the Canadian Pacific Steamships in 1953 and also renamed the Empress of Australia.

I think that the two photographs below are both of the 1919 ship, which incidentally ended up being scrapped in 1952 and her interior oak panelling being used to decorate the ship's room at Glenfarclas Distillery.

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  1. Hello,

    I am a maritime historian who as also pondered the story behind the photograph, and I may have solved the story.

    The photo shows her as Empress of China being towed into a berth for fitting out on the Clyde.

    As WWI came to a close the Admiral von Tirpitz was taken over by the British and put under P&O management, renamed to simply "Tirpitz". Like the Cap Polonio, Tirpitz recieved the P&O livery with a white sheerline and gray funnels.

    She was completed at german yards before setting out on a few transport voyages in 1920, laid up she was taken over by the Canadian Pacific in 1921 being given the name Empress of China. She was sent to Clyde Shipbuilding company to be fitted out for CP service.

    The two identifyable tugs, Flying Swallow and Flying Spray, belonged to the shipbuilder's.