Headline: The Atlantic Transort Line 

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S.S. Montcalm

Built by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Co. Ltd., Jarrow on Tyne
Launched May 17, 1897; Maiden voyage September 3, 1897; Scrapped 1953
Length 445'; Beam 52.5'; 6,981, 12 knots
1 funnel; 4 masts; Single screw; Triple expansion engine by builder with cylinders of 30", 50 1/2", and 81 1/2", stroke 54"
3 double-ended boilers, steam pressure 180 lbs, 664 n.h.p.
Steel two decks and shelter deck
AKA Crenella, Rey Alfonso, Anglo-Norse, Polar Chief, Empire Chief; Sisters Montrose and Monterey

 

The Montcalm was built for the African Steamship Company and managed by the Elder, Dempster Line. She carred accommodation for 12-second class passengers and was fitted to carry cattle eastbound and emigrants westbound. The Montcalm sailed on her maiden voyage from Avonmouth to Montreal and was chartered by the Atlantic Transport Line in November 1898. She commenced direct London to New York services on December 24 of that year. In 1898 her shade deck was enclosed and in 1899 she was rebuilt to 6,981 gross tons. January 27, 1900 saw her sail on her last London to New York voyage. On April 5, 1900, she sailed for Capetown as a Boer War transport and completed six New Orleans to Capetown voyages.

June 1902 saw her sail on the first of four Avonmouth to Montreal voyages and in 1903 she was sold to the Canadian Pacific Line. In August 1914 was requisitioned by the British Admiralty and was used as a transport with the British Expeditionary Force until October when she was converted into a dummy of the battleship HMS Audacious. As such, she was one of several decoy ships based at Scapa Flow while the real vessels were at sea. When this fleet of decoys was disbanded in 1915 she became a naval store ship.

She was purchased by the British Admiralty in January 1916 and operated by the Leyland Line. She was converted to a tanker that October and transferred to the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company (Shell) as the Crenella. She was torpedoed by U 101 off Ireland on November 26, 1917, but managed to reach port.

After the war she was purchased by the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, and in 1920 was to Runciman's Velefa Shipping Company of London. In 1923 she was sold to Christian Nielson & Co., and became a Norwegian whaling depot ship renamed Rey Alfonso. By 1925 she was owned by H. M. Wrangell & Co., of Haugesund and in 1927 was sold to the Anglo-Norse Co., of Tronsberg and renamed Anglo-Norse. She was sold yet again in 1929 to the Falkland Whaling Company and renamed Polar Chief.

Laid up for the 1930 season, in 1941 ownership transferred to the Ministry of War for service as a transport, and she was renamed Empire Chief. She survived the war and was returned to the South Georgia Company in 1946 under her previous name, Polar Chief. She was finally scrapped at Dalmuir in Scotland in 1953.

Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; The Ships List; Merchant Fleets: Elder Dempster Lines, Duncan Haws, 1990; Passenger Ships of the World Past and Present, Eugene W. Smith, Massachusetts, 1977; Merchant Fleets in Profile 2; the Ships of the Cunard, American, Red Star, Inman, Leyland, Dominion, Atlantic Transport and White Star Lines, Duncan Haws, 1979

 

For more information ...

Kinghorn "The Atlantic Transport Line 1881 - 1931" McFarland, 2011

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