CP Princess May

Princess May aground on Sentinel Island
Accreditation: W.H. Case

Princess May was built and launched under the name Cass in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1888 by Hawthorn, Leslie & Co., Ltd.   She was built for the Formosa Trading Company for service on the China coast. She sailed in this capacity from 1888 until 1901, under a number of different owners, receiving several name changes including Arthur, Cass, Ningchow and Ha-ting, which was its name until 1901.

Ha-ting was acquired in1901 by the newly formed Canadian Pacific Railway Coast Service, of British Columbia under superintendent James W. Troup. A steamship was needed to meet to meet the demand for traffic on the route to southeastern Alaska, and the new company did not want to wait a year or more to construct a new vessel. The Ha-ting was brought over to Canada in May, 1901.On  27 May , 1901, newly renamed Princess May was placed on the 800-mile route from Vancouver, British Columbia along the British Columbia coast to Skagway, Alaska.  She operated successfully, and in 1906 the company invested in rebuilding the superstructure and enlarging passenger accommodations. She was joined in 1907 by the new Princess Royal.

Princess May became perhaps the most famous shipwreck on the Pacific coast on 5 August 5, 1910.  Having departed from Skagway, Alaska, with  80 passengers, 68 crew, and a shipment of gold,  the Princess May was proceeding south down Lynn Canal  when she encountered heavy fog.   In the for the ship ran aground on rocks near the north end of Sentinel Island. It was high tide and the May, traveling at about 10 knots, was forced  high up onto the rocks. With the tide running out, the ship was left high and dry in what was to become the iconic photo above.

Princess May was so close to Sentinel Island  that all passengers were evacuated safely along with the gold shipment and the mail for safekeeping. For the next few weeks the Princess May remained on the rocks while crews worked to dislodge it. After blasting rocks and with two tugs assisting, she was salvaged and towed away for repairs. Her service not over, she was converted to oil burning in 1911 (the first CPR ship so converted) and continued to sail until sold in 1919.  She went into service in the Caribbean, a was deliberately scuttled in 1935.

Princess May had a length of 249′,  a beam of 33′, a draft of 18′  and was registered at 1394 tons

Evergreen Fleet