Empire Sandy

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Empire Sandy
Name: Empire Sandy (1942-48)
Ashford (1948-52)
Chris M (1953-79)
Empire Sandy (since 1979)
Owner: Ministry of War Transport (1942-45)
Admiralty (1945-53)
Great Lakes Paper Co (1953-79)
Nautical Adventures Ltd (since 1979)
Operator: Overseas Towage & Salvage Co Ltd (1942-48)
Risdon Beasley Ltd (1948-53)
Great Lakes Paper Co (1953-79)
Nautical Adventures Ltd (since 1979)
Port of registry: United Kingdom Newcastle upon Tyne (1942-48)
United Kingdom Southampton (1948-53)
Canada Ft William/Pt Arthur (1953-57)
22x20px Ft William/Pt Arthur (1957-70)
Canada Thunder Bay (since 1970)
Builder: Clelands (Successors) Ltd, Willington Quay on Tyne
Yard number: 66
Laid down: 22 December 1942
Completed: 14 July 1943
Maiden voyage: Iceland 30 July 1943
Reclassified: 1982
Identification: UK Official Number 169167 (1942-53)
Code letters MQTO (1942-48)
IMO Number 5071561
Status: Active
General characteristics
Class and type: Deep Sea Tug (1942-82)
Schooner (since 1982)
Tonnage: 485 GRT (1942-82)
338 GT (since 1982)
Displacement: 740 Tons (schooner)
Length: 135 feet (41.15 m) (tug)
203 feet (61.87 m) (schooner)
Beam: 30 feet 1 inch (9.17 m)
Height: 116 feet (schooner)
Draught: 15 feet 2 inches (4.62 m)
Propulsion: 1 triple expansion steam engine (1942-82)
Sails, auxiliary diesel engine (since 1982)
Sail plan: Schooner (since 1982)
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h) (since 1982)
Capacity: 275 passengers (since 1982)
Crew: 25 (since 1982)

Anti Aircraft 1943-1945

Two bronze canons (1990)

The Empire Sandy is a tall ship providing chartered tours for the public from Toronto, Canada. She was built as a Englishman/Larch class tugboat for war service by the British Government in 1943.[1]. After the war she was renamed to Ashford and then Chris M, before reverting to the original name of Empire Sandy and being converted to a schooner.

Tugboat History

The Empire Sandy was one of 1,464 Empire ships built or acquired for war service by the British Government.[1] Built in England in 1943 as a deep sea tugboat[1], she was tasked with Royal Navy work and salvaging merchant ships damaged in the Battle of the Atlantic and other naval engagements during the Second World War. She served in the North Atlantic Ocean from Iceland to Sierra Leone, Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal during World War II.

In 1948 she was bare-boat chartered by Risdon Beazley who renamed her Ashford[1], together with their Bustler class tug Twyford Ashford entered the rescue towage market.[2] Ashford was handed back to the Admialty in 1952. She was then sold to a Canadian firm, Great Lakes Paper Company, renamed Chris M[1] (after Chris Michels, a senior employee of Great Lakes Paper) and came to the Canadian Great Lakes where she spent fifteen years towing timber rafts for Lake Superior logging companies. In the early 1970s the aged ship was to be sold for scrap, but the steel hull was still in very good condition and she was bought by Nautical Adventures Co. for a possible conversion. They completely rebuilt the Chris M as a three masted schooner in the style of the 1880s and she assumed her original name the Empire Sandy .

Schooner cruises

Empire Sandy raising her sails in the Toronto Harbour.

Empire Sandy began serving the Great Lakes as a tall ship in 1982 based in Toronto, Canada. The 200-foot (61 m) long topsail schooner offers sailings for the public, chartered tours, including weddings and other events, on Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Licensed by Transport Canada to carry 275 passengers, she is Canada's largest topsail schooner. Visitors are usually welcome onboard during the day.

Empire Sandy is believed to be the last Empire ship built during WWII to be still sailing. She began serving the Great Lakes as a cruise ship in 1982, and continues to this day.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Mitchell and Sawyer (1990) p304 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Mitchell1990 p304" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Mitchell1990 p304" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Mitchell1990 p304" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Risdon Beazley - Post War


  • Mitchell, W H, and Sawyer, L A (1990). The Empire Ships. London, New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd. ISBN 1-85044-275-4. 
  • Martin, Roy. "Risdon Beazley" (in English). Risdon Beazley. p. Post war. http://www.risdonbeazley.co.uk/. Retrieved 9 November 2009. "After the war they reduced their fleet to ten vessels including: Help & Lifeline, Foremost 17 & 18, and the tugs Ashford (Empire Sandy) & Twyford (HMS Warden on bare-boat charter)). In addition to salvage and wreck removal around the World they ventured into rescue towage and cargo recovery." 

External links

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