Titanic was the first disaster of such a catastrophe but not the only one. The RMS Empress of Ireland hit a disaster two years after Titanic and had enough lifeboats, but, even with enough lifeboats, the Empress of Ireland would lose the majority of her crew and passengers. The Empress of Ireland was like any other transatlantic ocean liner. The Empress of Ireland was built by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Govan near Glasgow in Scotland. She had two funnels and could go up to a speed of 20 knots with two twin propellers. The company that owned the Empress of Ireland was the Canadian Pacific Steamship Company. She was proven a fast and reliable ship.
On the 28 May 1914, just two years after the disaster of the Titanic the Empress of Ireland left Quebec, Canada for Liverpool, England. Like many ships there were three classes: the wealthy in first class up on the higher decks; the middle class passengers in second class in the middle decks; and the poor third class passengers down on the lower decks; as well as whatever space was left for the crew. She carried 87 first class passengers, 253 second class passengers, 717 third class passengers, and 420 crew members. A total of 1,477 people were on board the Empress of Ireland as she left Quebec. On the early morning of the next day the Empress of Ireland had entered a fog. Captain Henry Kendall decided to stay on the bridge because he was worried about the fog. Then coming out from the fog was the Norwegian ship SS Storstad. There was no time to avoid the collision and the Storstad smashed into the Empress of Ireland's starboard side.
Captain Kendall did his best to avoid the collision but it still happened. The Storstad broke out of the hole and survived but the Empress of Ireland was fatally wounded. Captain Kendall claimed that he ordered whistle blasts to signal the Storstad but the crew of the Storstad claimed they never heard the whistle blasts. Like the Titanic, the Empress of Ireland had a watertight compartment design but really because of her small size she would still sink slowly with the two compartments flooded that the Storstad hit. Everything seemed ok, Captain Kendall ordered the lifeboats to be prepared and there were enough for everyone and he ordered a wireless distress signal to be sent. However, one thing that was not taken into thought was the hundreds of open portholes that were immediately taking in water. In one minute passengers are asleep in their cabins and the next they are drowning in water and this happened mostly on the starboard side.
On the port side passengers woke up, put on their lifebelts, and gathered up on the boat deck. Immediately the crew began loading and lowering the lifeboats but then catastrophe came. With only 4 lifeboats lowered, the crew could not load any more people into the lifeboats because the Empress of Ireland had reached such a list that loading and lowering the lifeboats became impossible. The list became so heavy that passengers started falling from the boat deck off the starboard side. Captain Kendall was at the bridge when he fell and slid down the deck into the sea and was eventually picked up by a lifeboat. Among the passengers was seven-year-old Grace Hanagan and when the Empress of Ireland began to turn over she and her parents slipped from the boat deck into the water. Grace went under twice but finally grabbed some wreckage. She was late picked up by a lifeboat but found out her parents had died. Out of the 1,477 people on board the Empress of Ireland, 1,012 perished and there were 465 survivors. Only 4 children survived out of the 134 who were onboard. Out of the classes: 60% of first-class perished; 70% of second-class perished; 60% of third-class perished; and out of the crew 30% perished.
Really the only way this disaster is popular with people would be the fact that it is the largest maritime disaster in Canadian history. When comparing the Empress of Ireland to the Titanic there are major differences on why the disaster is not famous. The Empress of Ireland was not a big mammoth like the Titanic. Despite a first-class none of them were the famous passengers like on the Titanic. The beginning of World War 1 and the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 soon made the Empress of Ireland forgotten. Also the fact that it was not as dramatic as the Titanic )like the fact that she had enough lifeboats) also is a reason for her to be forgotten. Still, the disaster of the Empress of Ireland is a sad one in history.