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Empire Sandy

Empire Sandy
  • Empire Sandy (1942-48)
  • Ashford (1948-52)
  • Chris M (1953-79)
  • Empire Sandy (since 1979)
  • Ministry of War Transport (1942-45)
  • Admiralty (1945-53)
  • Great Lakes Paper Co (1953-79)
  • Nautical Adventures Ltd (since 1979)
  • 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:
Builder: Clelands (Successors) Ltd, Willington Quay on Tyne
Yard number: 66
Launched: 22 December 1942
Completed: 14 July 1943
Maiden voyage: Iceland 30 July 1943
Reclassified: 1982
  • UK Official Number 169167 (1942-53)
  • Code letters MQTO (1942-48)
  • IMO Number 5071561
Status: Active
General characteristics
Class & type:
  • Deep Sea Tug (1942-82)
  • Schooner (since 1982)
  • 485 GRT (1942-82)
  • 338 GT (since 1982)
Displacement: 740 Tons (schooner)
  • 135 ft (41.15 m) (tug)
  • 203 ft (61.87 m) (schooner)
Beam: 30 ft 1 in (9.17 m)
Height: 116 ft (35 m) (schooner)
Draught: 15 ft 2 in (4.62 m)
  • 1 triple expansion steam engine (1942-82)
  • Sails, auxiliary diesel engine (since 1982)
Sail plan: Schooner (since 1982), Topsail Schooner (since 2008)
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h) Maximum under sail[3]
Capacity: 275 passengers (since 1982)
Crew: 25 (since 1982)

Anti Aircraft 1943-1945

Two bronze cannons (1990)

The Empire Sandy is a tall ship providing chartered tours for the public from Toronto, Canada. She was built as an Englishman/Larch Deep Sea class tugboat for war service by the British Government in 1943.[4] 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 1
  • Schooner cruises 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Tugboat history

The Empire Sandy was one of 1,464 Empire ships built or acquired for war service by the British Government.[4] Built in England in 1943 as a deep sea tugboat,[4] 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.

The Empire Sandy's WWII 'Official Log-Books' documenting all her WWII voyages are now available for viewing on click on WWII History . Of notable interest are the complete particulars of the crew, names, addresses, ages, next of kin etc. The oldest is the Master, E Thomas, 63 and the youngest is the Cabin Boy, Kenneth Lewis 15. These are in 'Log Book 014'. Another interesting entry is in TNA-25-5-05-094 describing the storm while towing, with His Majesty’s Rescue Tug Hesperia, AFD24 (Admiralty Floating Drydock 24) off the coast of Libya on February 8, 1945. The tug Hesperia and AFD24 were both blown ashore and lost.

In 1948 she was bare-boat chartered by Risdon Beazley who renamed her Ashford,[4] together with their Bustler class tug Twyford Ashford entered the rescue towage market.[5] The Ashford is listed, in 'Part of the Acorn Archive - Hearts of Oak' as part of the salvage team attending HMS Warspite after the Warspite went aground in 23 April 1947. The Ashford is incorrectly identified as tug Englishman,[6] however all other particulars are of the Ashford (Empire Sandy)[7]

Ashford was handed back to the Admialty in 1952. She was then sold to a Canadian firm, Great Lakes Paper Company, renamed Chris M[4] (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 . See for historical pictures. Thanks to David Waller webmaster Tyne Tugs

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 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 schooner. Visitors are usually welcome onboard during the day.

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

Empire Sandy will take part in the TALL SHIPS™ 1812 Tour, a Pan Provincial event that will travel throughout Ontario during the summer of 2013, commemorating the bicentennial for the War of 1812. 16 ports will participate in this event which is produced in partnership with the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE™ Great Lakes 2013 series. The First Port of Call for the tour will be in Brockville, Ontario, Canada June 14–16, 2013.[8]

See also


  1. ^ In February 15, 1965 Canada adopted a new flag.
  2. ^ In 1970, the cities of Fort William and Port Arthur, and some townships, were merged to form the new City of Thunder Bay.
  3. ^ Measured by onboard GPS while on passage New York to Bermuda running before hurricane Mitch Nov 1998
  4. ^ a b c d e Mitchell and Sawyer (1990) p304
  5. ^ "Brook House Book - Home Page". 
  6. ^ The tug Englishman was bombed and sunk 21 Jan 1941
  7. ^ "Hearts of Oak - Mount's Bay Visitors - HMS Warspite". 
  8. ^ "Home - Tall Model Ship Kits". Tall Model Ship Kits. 


  • Mitchell, W H, and Sawyer, L A (1990). The Empire Ships. London, New York, Hamburg, Hong Kong: Lloyd's of London Press Ltd.  
  • Martin, Roy. "Risdon Beazley". Risdon Beazley. p. Post war. 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

  • Official site
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