SS Mount Temple

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SS mount temple aground at West Ironbound Island, Nova Scotia
SS mount temple aground at West Ironbound Island, Nova Scotia
Name: SS Mount Temple
Namesake: William Francis Cowper (1811-1888), Baron Mount Temple
Owner: Elder Dempster's Beaver Line
Launched: 18 June 1901
Captured: by Germany 6 December 1916
Fate: Scuttled after capture
General characteristics
Length: 485 feet (147.8 m)
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h)
Armament: 75 mm gun during WWI

The SS Mount Temple was a ship owned by Canadian Pacific Lines (later CP Ships, now Hapag Lloyd), built in 1901 in Walker-on-Tyne, England by Armstrong Whitworth & Company. The ship was launched for the Elder Dempster's Beaver Line on 18 June 1901.

Early history

The ship was named for William Francis Cowper (1811-1888), Baron Mount Temple, an English politician and Lord of the Admiralty. The ship was 8,790 gross tons and was 485 feet long. It also had one funnel, four masts, twin screw propellers, and a top speed of 13 knots.

The Mount Temple saw use in November 1901 as a Boer War transport ship.

In 1903, Canadian Pacific Lines purchased the ship, with 14 other ships, and equipped her with a wireless telegraph. In the early days of wireless telegraphy, the call sign established for the SS Mount Temple was "MLQ."[1]

After two successful Liverpool-Quebec City runs in 1903, the ship ran aground on West Ironbound Island, Nova Scotia in 1907. No lives were lost, but the ship was stranded until 1908, when it was refloated.

The ship saw action during World War I, where she had a 75 mm gun mounted on her stern.

Assisting the RMS Titanic

The SS Mount Temple was one of the ships that responded to the RMS Titanic's distress signals on 14 April, 1912. The ship arrived at the Titanic's reported position at roughly 4:10 AM local time next day. Due to receiving incorrect coordinates, she was separated from the scene of the wreck by an iceberg and was unable to assist in rescue operations. That iceberg might have been the same iceberg that sunk the Titanic on the night of 14 April, 1912.

There has been speculation[2] that the Mount Temple, and not the SS Californian may have been the so-called mystery ship which, although sighted at a distance of five to ten miles[3][4] from the Titanic, ignored her distress rockets.

Capture and Sinking

The Mount Temple departed from Montreal on 3 December 1916 for Brest, France, and then Liverpool, England, with Captain Alfred Henry Sargent at the helm. The ship's cargo was 710 horses and 6,250 tons of goods, including 3,000 tons of corn, and 1,400 cases of eggs. Also on board were 22 wooden crates of dinosaur fossils, collected in the Badlands of Alberta by Charles H. Sternberg. These were en route to Sir Arthur Smith-Woodward, keeper of the British Museum's Natural History Department.

The ship was captured roughly half-way between Cape Race and Spain, roughly 2,000 km north of the Azores islands on 6 December 1916 and sunk by the German raider SMS Moewe. Four crewmembers aboard the Mount Temple died, and on 12 December 1916, her captain and surviving crew were brought aboard the captured British ship Yarrowdale and arrived at Swinemunde, Germany on 31 December. One US citizen in the crew, Richard Zabriskie, was released on 2 March 1917. Five more US citizens, Raymond Gilbert, Harry Gilmore, John Glennan, Harold Hinkley and John McGreal were released on 8 March. The United States was neutral at the time. The others were interned as prisoners of war.

The Mount Temple was the fourth vessel that Canadian Pacific Lines lost during the First World War, and by the war's end, CP Lines would lose a total of 18 ships. Its sister ship (the SS Montezuma), was torpedoed and sunk by the German Submarine UC-41 on 25 July 1917.

Crewmembers Lost

The four crew members lost on 6 December were:


  1. Trevent, Edward. (1911) The A B C of Wireless Telegraphy: A Plain Treatise on Hertzian Wave Signalling, p. 12.
  2. Molony, Senan, TITANIC SCANDAL: The Trial of the Mount Temple, Amberly, 2010
  3. ibid.
  4. Lord, Walter, A Night to Remember, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1955

See also


External links

fr:SS Mount Temple pl:SS Mount Temple