New York City
New York City Via Cherbourg, France and Cork, Ireland
Ship Disaster :
1915 English channel torpedoed by German U boat off the coast of
John Brown & Co, Clydebank, Scotland
17 August 1904
7 June 1906
Mary, Lady Inverclyde
26 August 1907
7 September 1907
Torpedoed by German
U-boat U-20 on Friday 7 May 1915. Wreck lies
approximately 11 mi (18 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale
Lighthouse in 300 ft (91 m) of water at 51°25′N
8°33′W / 51.417°N 8.550°W / 51.417; -8.550Coordinates:
51°25′N 8°33′W / 51.417°N 8.550°W / 51.417; -8.550
Partially collapsed wreck
44,060 long tons (44,767.0 t)
787 ft (239.9 m)[a]
87 ft (26.5 m)
60 ft (18.3 m) to boat deck, 165 ft (50.3 m) to
33.6 ft (10.2 m)
9 passenger decks
25 Scotch boilers. Four direct-acting Parsons steam turbines producing
76,000 hp (57 MW).
Four triple blade propellers. (Quadruple blade propellers installed in
25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph) (top speed, single day's run in
552 first class, 460 second class, 1,186 third class. 2,198
total. 7,000 tons coal.
First ship of Cunard's four funneled grand trio, along with RMS
Mauretania and RMS Aquitania
Lusitania was a British ocean liner that was in operation during
the early 20th century. The ship was a holder of the Blue Riband, and
briefly the world's largest passenger ship until the completion of her
sister ship Mauretania. The
Cunard Line launched
Lusitania in 1906, at
a time of fierce competition for the North Atlantic trade. She made a
total of 202 trans-Atlantic crossings.
German shipping lines were aggressive competitors in the transatlantic
trade, and Cunard responded by trying to outdo them in speed,
capacity, and luxury. Both
Lusitania and Mauretania were fitted with
revolutionary new turbine engines that enabled them to maintain a
service speed of 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph). They were
equipped with lifts, wireless telegraph, and electric light, and
provided 50% more passenger space than any other ship; the first class
decks were noted for their sumptuous furnishings.
Royal Navy had blockaded Germany at the start of World War I. When
Lusitania left New York for Britain on 1 May 1915, German
submarine warfare was intensifying in the Atlantic. Germany had
declared the seas around the United Kingdom a war zone, and the German
embassy in the United States had placed a newspaper advertisement
warning people of the dangers of sailing on Lusitania. On the
afternoon of 7 May, a German
U-boat torpedoed Lusitania, 11 mi
(18 km) off the southern coast of Ireland and inside the declared
war zone. A second, unexplained, internal explosion sent her to the
seabed in 18 minutes, with the deaths of 1,198 passengers and crew.
Because the Germans sank, without warning, what was officially a
non-military ship, many accused them of breaching the internationally
recognised Cruiser Rules. It was no longer possible for submarines to
give warning due to the British introduction of Q-ships in 1915 with
concealed deck guns. (
Lusitania had been fitted with 6-inch gun mounts
in 1913, although she was unarmed at the time of her sinking.) The
Germans justified treating
Lusitania as a naval vessel because she was
carrying hundreds of tons of war munitions, therefore making her a
legitimate military target, and argued that British merchant ships had
Cruiser Rules from the very beginning of the
The sinking caused a storm of protest in the United States because 128
American citizens were among the dead. The sinking helped shift public
opinion in the United States against Germany, and was a factor in the
United States' declaration of war nearly two years later. After World
War I, successive British governments maintained that there were no
munitions on board
Lusitania and the Germans were not justified in
treating the ship as a naval vessel. In 1982, the head of the British
Foreign Office's North America department admitted that there is a
large amount of ammunition in the wreck, some of which is highly
dangerous and poses a safety risk to salvage teams.
1 Development and construction
1.3 Construction and trials
1.4 Comparison with the Olympic class
2.1 Hudson Fulton Celebration
3 Outbreak of the First World War
7.1 100th Anniversary
8 Conspiracy theories
8.1 British Government deliberately putting
Lusitania at risk
8.2 Undeclared war munitions
8.3 Alleged bombardment/destruction of the wreck
9.1 Simon Lake's attempt to salvage in the 1930s
9.2 Gregg Bemis' salvage efforts
9.3 1984 British legal action
10 Cultural significance
11 See also
13.2 Newspapers, journals and other media
14 Further reading
15 External links
Development and construction
Lusitania, shortly before her launch
Lusitania and Mauretania were commissioned by Cunard, responding to
increasing competition from rival transatlantic passenger companies,
particularly the German
Norddeutscher Lloyd (NDL) and Hamburg America
Line (HAPAG). They had larger, faster, more modern, more luxurious
ships than Cunard and were better placed, starting from German ports,
to capture the lucrative trade in emigrants leaving Europe for North
America. In 1897 the NDL liner Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse captured the
Blue Riband from Cunard's Campania, before the prize was taken in 1900
by the HAPAG ship Deutschland. NDL soon wrested the prize back in 1903
with the new Kaiser Wilhelm II and Kronprinz Wilhelm. Cunard saw their
passenger numbers affected as a result of the so-called "Kaiser-class
American millionaire businessman
J. P. Morgan
J. P. Morgan had decided to invest in
transatlantic shipping by creating a new company, International
Mercantile Marine (IMM), and, in 1901, purchased the British freight
shipper Frederick Leyland & Co. and a controlling interest in the
White Star Line
White Star Line and folded them into IMM. In 1902,
IMM, NDL, and HAPAG entered into a "Community of Interest" to fix
prices and divide among them the transatlantic trade. The partners
also acquired a 51% stake in the Dutch Holland America Line. IMM made
offers to purchase Cunard which, along with the French CGT, were now
their principal rivals.
Cunard chairman Lord Inverclyde thus approached the British government
for assistance. Faced with the impending collapse of the British liner
fleet and the consequent loss of national prestige, as well as the
reserve of shipping for war purposes which it represented, they agreed
to help. By an agreement signed in June 1903, Cunard was given a loan
of £2.6 million to finance two ships, repayable over 20 years at a
favourable interest rate of 2.75%. The ships would receive an annual
operating subsidy of £75,000 each plus a mail contract worth
£68,000. In return the ships would be built to Admiralty
specifications so that they could be used as auxiliary cruisers in
Lusitania unloading Christmas mail to a post office boat
Cunard established a committee to decide upon the design for the new
ships, of which James Bain, Cunard's Marine Superintendent was the
chairman. Other members included Rear Admiral H. J. Oram, who had been
involved in designs for turbine powered ships for the navy, and
Charles Parsons, whose company Parsons Marine was now producing
revolutionary turbine engines.
Parsons maintained that he could design engines capable of maintaining
a speed of 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph), which would require
68,000 shaft horsepower (51,000 kW). The largest turbine sets
built thus far had been of 23,000 shp (17,000 kW) for the
Dreadnought-class battleships, and 41,000 shp (31,000 kW)
for Invincible-class battlecruisers, which meant the engines would be
of a new, untested design. Turbines offered the advantages of
generating less vibration than the reciprocating engines and greater
reliability in operation at high speeds, combined with lower fuel
consumption. It was agreed that a trial would be made by fitting
turbines to Carmania, which was already under construction. The result
was a ship 1.5 knots (2.8 km/h; 1.7 mph) faster than her
conventionally powered sister Caronia with the expected improvements
in passenger comfort and operating economy.
The ship was designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown
and Company of Clydebank, Scotland. The ship's name was taken from
Lusitania, an ancient Roman province on the west of Iberian Peninsula,
the region that is now southern Portugal and
Extremadura (Spain). The
name had also been used by a previous ship built in 1871 and wrecked
in 1901, making the name available from Lloyds for Cunard's
Peskett had built a large model of the proposed ship in 1902 showing a
three funnel design. A fourth funnel was implemented into the design
in 1904 as it was necessary to vent the exhaust from additional
boilers fitted after steam turbines had been settled on as the power
plant. The original plan called for three propellers, but this was
altered to four because it was felt the necessary power could not be
transmitted through just three. Four turbines would drive four
separate propellers, with additional reversing turbines to drive the
two inboard shafts only. To improve efficiency, the two inboard
propellers rotated inwards, while those outboard rotated outwards. The
outboard turbines operated at high pressure; the exhaust steam then
passing to those inboard at relatively low pressure.
The propellers were driven directly by the turbines, since
sufficiently robust gearboxes had not yet been developed, and only
became available in 1916. Instead, the turbines had to be designed to
run at a much lower speed than those normally accepted as being
optimum. Thus, the efficiency of the turbines installed was less at
low speeds than a conventional reciprocating (piston in cylinder)
steam engine, but significantly better when the engines were run at
high speed, as was usually the case for an express liner. The ship was
fitted with 23 double-ended, and two single-ended boilers (which
fitted the forward space where the ship narrowed), operating at a
maximum 195 psi and containing 192 individual furnaces.
Deck plans of Lusitania. Modifications were made both during, and
after the ship's construction. By 1915 the lifeboat arrangement had
been changed to 11 fixed boats either side, plus collapsible boats
stored under each lifeboat and on the poop deck.
Work to refine the hull shape was conducted in the Admiralty
experimental tank at Haslar, Gosport. As a result of experiments, the
beam of the ship was increased by 10 feet (3.0 m) over that
initially intended to improve stability. The hull immediately in front
of the rudder and the balanced rudder itself followed naval design
practice to improve the vessel's turning response. The Admiralty
contract required that all machinery be below the waterline, where it
was considered to be better protected from gunfire, and the aft third
of the ship below water was used to house the turbines, the steering
motors and four 375-kilowatt (503 hp) steam driven
turbo-generators. The central half contained four boiler rooms, with
the remaining space at the forward end of the ship being reserved for
cargo and other storage.
Coal bunkers were placed along the length of the ship outboard of the
boiler rooms, with a large transverse bunker immediately in front of
that most forward (number 1) boiler room. Apart from convenience ready
for use, the coal was considered to provide added protection for the
central spaces against attack. At the very front were the chain
lockers for the huge anchor chains and ballast tanks to adjust the
The hull space was divided into twelve watertight compartments, any
two of which could be flooded without risk of the ship sinking,
connected by 35 hydraulically operated watertight doors. A critical
flaw in the arrangement of the watertight compartments was that
sliding doors to the coal bunkers needed to be open to provide a
constant feed of coal whilst the ship was operating, and closing these
in emergency conditions could be problematic. The ship had a double
bottom with the space between divided into separate watertight cells.
The ship's exceptional height was due to the six decks of passenger
accommodation above the waterline, compared to the customary four
decks in existing liners.
High tensile steel was used for the ship's plating, as opposed to the
more conventional mild steel. This allowed a reduction in plate
thickness, reducing weight but still providing 26 per cent greater
strength than otherwise. Plates were held together by triple rows of
rivets. The ship was heated and cooled throughout by a thermo-tank
ventilation system, which used steam driven heat exchangers to warm
air to a constant 65 °F (18.3 °C), while steam was
injected into the airflow to maintain steady humidity.
Forty-nine separate units driven by electric fans provided seven
complete changes of air per hour throughout the ship, through an
interconnected system, so that individual units could be switched off
for maintenance. A separate system of exhaust fans removed air from
galleys and bathrooms. As built, the ship conformed fully with Board
of Trade safety regulations which required sixteen lifeboats with a
capacity of approximately 1,000 people.
At the time of her completion
Lusitania was briefly the largest ship
ever built, but was eclipsed in this respect by the slightly larger
Mauretania which entered service shortly thereafter. She was 70 feet
(21 m) longer, a full 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph)
faster, and had a capacity of 10,000 gross tons over and above that of
the most modern German liner, Kronprinzessin Cecilie. Passenger
accommodation was 50% larger than any of her competitors, providing
for 552 saloon class, 460 cabin class and 1,186 in third class. Her
crew comprised 69 on deck, 369 operating engines and boilers and 389
to attend to passengers. Both she and Mauretania had a wireless
telegraph, electric lighting, electric lifts, sumptuous interiors and
an early form of air-conditioning.
Lusitania by Norman Wilkinson
At the time of their introduction onto the North Atlantic, both
Lusitania and Mauretania possessed among the most luxurious, spacious
and comfortable interiors afloat. The Scottish architect James Miller
was chosen to design Lusitania's interiors, while
Harold Peto was
chosen to design Mauretania. Miller chose to use plasterwork to create
interiors whereas Peto made extensive use of wooden panelling, with
the result that the overall impression given by
Lusitania was brighter
than Mauretania. Lusitania's designs proved the more popular.
The ship's passenger accommodation was spread across six decks; from
the top deck down to the waterline they were Boat Deck (A Deck), the
Promenade Deck (B Deck), the Shelter Deck (C Deck), the Upper Deck (D
Deck), the Main Deck (E Deck) and the Lower Deck (F Deck), with each
of the three passenger classes being allotted their own space on the
ship. As seen aboard all passenger liners of the era, first, second
and third class passengers were strictly segregated from one another.
According to her original configuration in 1907, she was designed to
carry 2,198 passengers and 827 crew members. The
Cunard Line prided
itself with a record for passenger satisfaction.
Lounge and music room
Lusitania's first class accommodation was in the centre section of the
ship on the five uppermost decks, mostly concentrated between the
first and fourth funnels. When fully booked,
Lusitania could cater to
552 first class passengers. In common with all major liners of the
period, Lusitania's first class interiors were decorated with a
mélange of historical styles. The first class dining saloon was the
grandest of the ship's public rooms; arranged over two decks with an
open circular well at its centre and crowned by an elaborate dome
measuring 29 feet (8.8 m), decorated with frescos in the style of
François Boucher, it was elegantly realised throughout in the
neoclassical Louis XVI style. The lower floor measuring 85 feet
(26 m) could seat 323, with a further 147 on the 65-foot
(20 m) upper floor. The walls were finished with white and gilt
carved mahogany panels, with Corinthian decorated columns which were
required to support the floor above. The one concession to seaborne
life was that furniture was bolted to the floor, meaning passengers
could not rearrange their seating for their personal convenience.
Promotional material showing the First Class dining room
Finished First Class dining room
All other first class public rooms were situated on the boat deck and
comprised a lounge, reading and writing room, smoking room and veranda
café. The last was an innovation on a Cunard liner and, in warm
weather, one side of the café could be opened up to give the
impression of sitting outdoors. This would have been a rarely used
feature given the often inclement weather of the North Atlantic.
The first class lounge was decorated in Georgian style with inlaid
mahogany panels surrounding a jade green carpet with a yellow floral
pattern, measuring overall 68 feet (21 m). It had a barrel
vaulted skylight rising to 20 feet (6.1 m) with stained glass
windows each representing one month of the year.
1st class Smoking room
1st class reading and writing room
Each end of the lounge had a 14-foot (4.3 m) high green marble
fireplace incorporating enamelled panels by Alexander Fisher. The
design was linked overall with decorative plasterwork. The library
walls were decorated with carved pilasters and mouldings marking out
panels of grey and cream silk brocade. The carpet was rose, with Rose
du Barry silk curtains and upholstery. The chairs and writing desks
were mahogany, and the windows featured etched glass. The smoking room
was Queen Anne style, with Italian walnut panelling and Italian red
furnishings. The grand stairway linked all six decks of the passenger
accommodation with wide hallways on each level and two lifts. First
class cabins ranged from one shared room through various ensuite
arrangements in a choice of decorative styles culminating in the two
regal suites which each had two bedrooms, dining room, parlour and
bathroom. The port suite decoration was modelled on the Petit
Lusitania's second class accommodation was confined to the stern,
behind the aft mast, where quarters for 460 second class passengers
were located. The second class public rooms were situated on
partitioned sections of boat and promenade decks housed in a separate
section of the superstructure aft of the first class passenger
quarters. Design work was deputised to Robert Whyte, who was the
architect employed by John Brown. Although smaller and plainer, the
design of the dining room reflected that of first class, with just one
floor of diners under a ceiling with a smaller dome and balcony. Walls
were panelled and carved with decorated pillars, all in white. As seen
in first class, the dining room was situated lower down in the ship on
the saloon deck. The smoking and ladies' rooms occupied the
accommodation space of the second class promenade deck, with the
lounge on the boat deck.
Cunard had not previously provided a separate lounge for second class;
the 42-foot (13 m) room had mahogany tables, chairs and settees
set on a rose carpet. The smoking room was 52 feet (16 m) with
mahogany panelling, white plasterwork ceiling and dome. One wall had a
mosaic of a river scene in Brittany, while the sliding windows were
blue tinted. Second class passengers were allotted shared, yet
comfortable two and four berth cabins arranged on the shelter, upper
and main decks.
Noted as being the prime breadwinner for trans-Atlantic shipping
lines, third class aboard
Lusitania was praised for the improvement in
travel conditions it provided to emigrant passengers, and Lusitania
proved to be a quite popular ship for immigrants. In the days
Lusitania and even still during the years in which Lusitania
was in service, third class accommodation consisted of large open
spaces where hundreds of people would share open berths and hastily
constructed public spaces, often consisting of no more than a small
portion of open deck space and a few tables constructed within their
sleeping quarters. In an attempt to break that mould, the Cunard Line
began designing ships such as
Lusitania with more comfortable third
As on all Cunard passenger liners, third class accommodation aboard
Lusitania was located at the forward end of the ship on the shelter,
upper, main and lower decks, and in comparison to other ships of the
period, it was comfortable and spacious. The 79-foot (24 m)
dining room was at the bow of the ship on the saloon deck, finished in
polished pine as were the other two third class public rooms, being
the smoke room and ladies room on the shelter deck.
Lusitania was fully booked in Third Class, the smoking and ladies
room could easily be converted into overflow dining rooms for added
convenience. Meals were eaten at long tables with swivel chairs and
there were two sittings for meals. A piano was provided for passenger
use. What greatly appealed to immigrants and lower class travelers was
that instead of being confined to open berth dormitories, aboard
Lusitania was a honeycomb of two, four, six and eight berth cabins
allotted to Third Class passengers on the main and lower decks.
Bromsgrove Guild had designed and constructed most of the trim on
Lusitania. Waring and Gillow tendered for the contract to furnish
the whole ship, but failing to obtain this still supplied a number of
Construction and trials
Lusitania's launch, 7 June 1906
Lusitania's keel was laid at John Brown on
Clydebank as yard no. 367
on 16 June 1904, Lord Inverclyde hammering home the first rivet.
Cunard nicknamed her 'the Scottish ship' in contrast to Mauretania
whose contract went to
Swan Hunter in England and who started building
three months later. Final details of the two ships were left to
designers at the two yards so that the ships differed in details of
hull design and finished structure. The ships may most readily be
distinguished in photographs through the flat topped ventilators used
on Lusitania, whereas those on Mauretania used a more conventional
rounded top. Mauretania was designed a little longer, wider, heavier
and with an extra power stage fitted to the turbines.
The shipyard at John Brown had to be reorganised because of her size
so that she could be launched diagonally across the widest available
part of the river Clyde where it met a tributary, the ordinary width
of the river being only 610 feet (190 m) compared to the 786-foot
(240 m) long ship. The new slipway took up the space of two
existing ones and was built on reinforcing piles driven deeply into
the ground to ensure it could take the temporary concentrated weight
of the whole ship as it slid into the water. In addition the company
spent £8,000 to dredge the Clyde, £6,500 on new gas plant, £6,500
on a new electrical plant, £18,000 to extend the dock and £19,000
for a new crane capable of lifting 150 tons as well as £20,000 on
additional machinery and equipment. Construction commenced at the
bow working backwards, rather than the traditional approach of
building both ends towards the middle. This was because designs for
the stern and engine layout were not finalised when construction
commenced. Railway tracks were laid alongside the ship and across deck
plating to bring materials as required. The hull, completed to the
level of the main deck but not fitted with equipment weighed
approximately 16,000 tons.
The ship's stockless bower anchors weighed 101⁄4 tons, attached
to 125 ton, 330 fathom chains all manufactured by N. Hingley &
Sons Ltd. The steam capstans to raise them were constructed by Napier
Brothers Ltd, of Glasgow. The turbines were 25 feet (7.6 m) long
with 12 ft (3.7 m) diameter rotors, the large diameter
necessary because of the relatively low speeds at which they operated.
The rotors were constructed on site, while the casings and shafting
was constructed in John Brown's Atlas works in Sheffield. The
machinery to drive the 56 ton rudder was constructed by Brown Brothers
of Edinburgh. A main steering engine drove the rudder through worm
gear and clutch operating on a toothed quadrant rack, with a reserve
engine operating separately on the rack via a chain drive for
emergency use. The 17 ft (5.2 m) three bladed propellers
were fitted and then cased in wood to protect them during the
The ship was launched on 7 June 1906, eight weeks later than planned
due to labour strikes and eight months after Lord Inverclyde's death.
Princess Louise was invited to name the ship but could not attend, so
the honour fell to Inverclyde's widow Mary. The launch was
attended by 600 invited guests and thousands of spectators. One
thousand tons of drag chains were attached to the hull by temporary
rings to slow it once it entered the water. On launch the propellers
were fitted, but on later launches propellers would be fitted in dry
dock as they could be damaged by colliding with another object on
launch. The wooden supporting structure was held back by cables so
that once the ship entered the water it would slip forward out of its
support. Six tugs were on hand to capture the hull and move it to the
fitting out berth.
Testing of the ship's engines took place in June 1907 prior to full
trials scheduled for July. A preliminary cruise, or Builder's Trial,
was arranged for 27 July with representatives of Cunard, the
Admiralty, the Board of Trade, and John Brown aboard. The ship
achieved speeds of 25.6 knots (47.4 km/h; 29.5 mph) over a
measured 1 mile (1.6 km) at
Skelmorlie with turbines running at
194 revolutions per minute producing 76,000 shp. At high speeds the
ship was found to suffer such vibration at the stern as to render the
second class accommodation uninhabitable. VIP invited guests now came
on board for a two-day shakedown cruise during which the ship was
tested under continuous running at speeds of 15, 18 and 21 knots but
not her maximum speed. On 29 July the guests departed and three days
of full trials commenced. The ship travelled four times between the
Corsewall Light off Scotland to the Longship Light off
Cornwall at 23
and 25 knots, between the Corsewall Light and the Isle of Man, and the
Isle of Arran
Isle of Arran and Ailsa Craig. Over 300 miles (480 km) an average
speed of 25.4 knots was achieved, comfortably greater than the 24
knots required under the admiralty contract. The ship could stop in
4 minutes in 3/4 of a mile starting from 23 knots at 166 rpm and
then applying full reverse. She achieved a speed of 26 knots over a
measured mile loaded to a draught of 33 feet (10 m), and managed
26.5 knots over a 60-mile (97 km) course drawing 31.5 feet
(9.6 m). At 180 revolutions a turning test was conducted and the
ship performed a complete circle of diameter 1000 yards in
50 seconds. The rudder required 20 seconds to be turned hard
to 35 degrees.
The vibration was determined to be caused by interference between the
wake of the outer propellers and inner and became worse when turning.
At high speeds the vibration frequency resonated with the ship's stern
making the matter worse. The solution was to add internal stiffening
to the stern of the ship but this necessitated gutting the second
class areas and then rebuilding them. This required the addition of a
number of pillars and arches to the decorative scheme. The ship was
finally delivered to Cunard on 26 August although the problem of
vibration was never entirely solved and further remedial work went on
through her life.
Comparison with the Olympic class
The White Star Line's Olympic-class vessels were almost 100 ft
(30 m) longer and slightly wider than
Lusitania and Mauretania.
This made the White Star vessels about 15,000 tons heavier than the
Cunard vessels. Both
Lusitania and Mauretania were launched and had
been in service for several years before Olympic, Titanic and
Britannic were ready for the North Atlantic run. Although
significantly faster than the Olympic class would be, the speed of
Cunard's vessels was not sufficient to allow the line to run a weekly
two-ship transatlantic service from each side of the Atlantic. A third
ship was needed for a weekly service, and in response to White Star's
announced plan to build the three Olympic-class ships, Cunard ordered
a third ship: Aquitania. Like Olympic, Cunard's Aquitania had a lower
service speed, but was a larger and more luxurious vessel.
Because of their increased size the Olympic-class liners could offer
many more amenities than
Lusitania and Mauretania. Both Olympic and
Titanic offered swimming pools, Turkish baths, a gymnasium, a squash
court, large reception rooms, À la Carte restaurants separate from
the dining saloons, and many more staterooms with private bathroom
facilities than their two Cunard rivals.
Heavy vibrations as a by-product of the four steam turbines on
Lusitania and Mauretania would plague both ships throughout their
Lusitania sailed at top speed the resultant vibrations
were so severe that Second and Third Class sections of the ship could
become uninhabitable. In contrast, the Olympic-class liners
utilised four traditional reciprocating engines and only one turbine
for the central propeller, which greatly reduced vibration. Because of
their greater tonnage and wider beam, the Olympic-class liners were
also more stable at sea and less prone to rolling.
Mauretania both featured straight prows in contrast to the angled
prows of the Olympic liners. Designed so that the ships could plunge
through a wave rather than crest it, the unforeseen consequence was
that the Cunard liners would pitch forward alarmingly, even in calm
weather, allowing huge waves to splash the bow and forward part of the
Olympic arriving at port on maiden voyage June 1911, with Lusitania
departing in the background
The vessels of the Olympic class also differed from
Mauretania in the way in which they were compartmented below the
waterline. The White Star vessels were divided by transverse
watertight bulkheads. While
Lusitania also had transverse bulkheads,
it also had longitudinal bulkheads running along the ship on each
side, between the boiler and engine rooms and the coal bunkers on the
outside of the vessel. The British commission that had investigated
the sinking of Titanic in 1912 heard testimony on the flooding of coal
bunkers lying outside longitudinal bulkheads. Being of considerable
length, when flooded, these could increase the ship's list and "make
the lowering of the boats on the other side impracticable" — and
this was precisely what later happened with Lusitania. The ship's
stability was insufficient for the bulkhead arrangement used: flooding
of only three coal bunkers on one side could result in negative
metacentric height. On the other hand, Titanic was given ample
stability and sank with only a few degrees list, the design being such
that there was very little risk of unequal flooding and possible
Lusitania did not carry enough lifeboats for all her passengers,
officers and crew on board at the time of her maiden voyage (carrying
four lifeboats fewer than Titanic would carry in 1912). This was a
common practice for large passenger ships at the time, since the
belief was that in busy shipping lanes help would always be nearby and
the few boats available would be adequate to ferry all aboard to
rescue ships before a sinking. After the Titanic sank,
Mauretania were equipped with an additional six clinker-built wooden
boats under davits, making for a total of 22 boats rigged in davits.
The rest of their lifeboat accommodations were supplemented with 26
collapsible lifeboats, 18 stored directly beneath the regular
lifeboats and eight on the after deck. The collapsibles were built
with hollow wooden bottoms and canvas sides, and needed assembly in
the event they had to be used.
This contrasted with Olympic and Britannic which received a full
complement of lifeboats all rigged under davits. This difference would
have been a major contributor to the high loss of life involved with
Lusitania's sinking, since there was not sufficient time to assemble
collapsible boats or life-rafts, had it not been for the fact that the
ship's severe listing made it impossible for lifeboats on the port
side of the vessel to be lowered, and the rapidity of the sinking did
not allow the remaining lifeboats that could be directly lowered (as
these were rigged under davits) to be filled and launched with
passengers. When Britannic, working as a hospital ship during World
War I, sank in 1916 after hitting a mine in the Kea channel the
already davited boats were swiftly lowered saving nearly all on board,
but the ship took nearly three times as long to sink as
thus the crew had more time to evacuate passengers.
Lusitania arriving in New York on her maiden voyage
Lusitania, commanded by Commodore James Watt, moored at the Liverpool
landing stage for her maiden voyage at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday 7
September 1907 as the onetime
Blue Riband holder RMS Lucania
vacated the pier. At the time
Lusitania was the largest ocean liner in
service and would continue to be until the introduction of Mauretania
in November that year. During her eight-year service, she made a total
of 202 crossings on the Cunard Line's Liverpool-New York Route. A
crowd of 200,000 people gathered to see her departure at
9:00 p.m. for Queenstown (renamed
Cobh in 1920), where she was to
take on more passengers. She anchored again at Roche's Point, off
Queenstown, at 9:20 a.m. the following morning, where she was
shortly joined by Lucania, which she had passed in the night, and 120
passengers were brought out to the ship by tender bringing her total
of passengers to 2,320.
At 12:10 p.m. on Sunday
Lusitania was again under way and passing
the Daunt Rock Lightship. In the first 24 hours she achieved 561 miles
(903 km), with further daily totals of 575, 570, 593 and 493
miles (793 km) before arriving at
Sandy Hook at 9:05 a.m.
Friday 13 September, taking in total 5 days and 54 minutes,
30 minutes outside the record time held by Kaiser Wilhelm II of
North German Lloyd
North German Lloyd line. Fog had delayed the ship on two days, and
her engines were not yet run in. In New York hundreds of thousands of
people gathered on the bank of the
Hudson River from
Battery Park to
pier 56. All New York's police had been called out to control the
crowd. From the start of the day, 100 horse drawn cabs had been
queuing, ready to take away passengers. During the week's stay the
ship was made available for guided tours. At 3 p.m. on Saturday 21
September, the ship departed on the return journey, arriving
Queenstown 4 a.m. 27 September and
Liverpool 12 hours later. The
return journey was 5 days 4 hours and 19 minutes, again delayed
On her second voyage in better weather,
Lusitania arrived at Sandy
Hook on 11 October 1907 in the
Blue Riband record time of 4 days, 19
hours and 53 minutes. She had to wait for the tide to enter
harbour where news had preceded her and she was met by a fleet of
small craft, whistles blaring.
Lusitania averaged 23.99 knots
(44.43 km/h) westbound and 23.61 knots (43.73 km/h)
eastbound. In December 1907, Mauretania entered service and took the
record for the fastest eastbound crossing.
Lusitania made her fastest
westbound crossing in 1909 after her propellers were changed,
averaging 25.85 knots (47.87 km/h). She briefly recovered the
record in July of that year, but Mauretania recaptured the Blue Riband
the same month, retaining it until 1929, when it was taken by
Lusitania at the end of the first leg of her maiden voyage, New York
City, September 1907. (The photo was taken with a panoramic camera.)
Hudson Fulton Celebration
stereo picture of Wright Flyer, Lusitania(Europe-bound), and the
Statue of Liberty, during Hudson Fulton Celebration.
Lusitania and other ships participated in the Hudson-Fulton
New York City
New York City from the end of September to early
October 1909. The celebration also was a display of the different
modes of transportation then in existence,
Lusitania representing the
newest advancement in steamship technology. A newer mode of travel was
Wilbur Wright had brought a Flyer to Governors Island
and proceeded to make demonstration flights before millions of New
Yorkers who had never seen an aircraft. Some of Wright's trips were
directly over Lusitania; several photographs of
Lusitania from that
week still exist.
Outbreak of the First World War
Lusitania was built, her construction and operating expenses were
subsidised by the British government, with the proviso that she could
be converted to an armed merchant cruiser (AMC) if need be. A secret
compartment was designed in for the purpose of carrying arms and
ammunition. When war was declared she was requisitioned by the
Admiralty as an armed merchant cruiser, and she was put on the
official list of AMCs.
Lusitania remained on the official AMC list and
was listed as an auxiliary cruiser in the 1914 edition of Jane's All
the World's Fighting Ships, along with Mauretania.
The Declaration of Paris codified the rules for naval engagements
involving civilian vessels. The so-called
Cruiser Rules required that
the crew and passengers of civilian ships be safeguarded in the event
that the ship is to be confiscated or sunk. These rules also placed
some onus on the ship itself, in that the merchant ship had to be
flying its own flag, and not pretending to be of a different
nationality. Also, it had to stop when confronted and allow itself to
be boarded and searched, and it was not allowed to be armed or to take
any hostile or evasive actions. When war was declared, British
merchant ships were given orders to ram submarines that surfaced to
issue the warnings required by the Cruiser Rules.
At the outbreak of hostilities, fears for the safety of
other great liners ran high. During the ship's first east-bound
crossing after the war started, she was painted in a grey colour
scheme in an attempt to mask her identity and make her more difficult
to detect visually.
Germany's declared exclusion zone of February 1915. Ships within this
area were liable to search and attack.
Many of the large liners were laid up in 1914–1915, in part due to
falling demand for passenger travel across the Atlantic, and in part
to protect them from damage due to mines or other dangers. Among the
most recognisable of these liners, some were eventually used as troop
transports, while others became hospital ships.
Lusitania remained in
commercial service; although bookings aboard her were by no means
strong during that autumn and winter, demand was strong enough to keep
her in civilian service. Economising measures were taken. One of these
was the shutting down of her No. 4 boiler room to conserve coal and
crew costs; this reduced her maximum speed from over 25 knots
(46 km/h; 29 mph) to 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph).
With apparent dangers evaporating, the ship's disguised paint scheme
was also dropped and she was returned to civilian colours. Her name
was picked out in gilt, her funnels were repainted in their
traditional Cunard livery, and her superstructure was painted white
again. One alteration was the addition of a bronze/gold coloured band
around the base of the superstructure just above the black paint.
Captain Daniel Dow, Lusitania's penultimate captain
William Thomas Turner
William Thomas Turner 1915.
The official warning issued by the Imperial German Embassy about
travelling on Lusitania
By early 1915 a new threat began to materialise: submarines. At first
they were used by the Germans only to attack naval vessels, something
they achieved only occasionally but sometimes with spectacular
success. Then the U-boats began to attack merchant vessels at times,
although almost always in accordance with the old Cruiser Rules.
Desperate to gain an advantage on the Atlantic, the German government
decided to step up their submarine campaign, as a result of the
British declaring the North Sea a war zone in November 1914. On 4
February 1915, Germany declared the seas around the British Isles a
war zone: from 18 February Allied ships in the area would be sunk
without warning. This was not wholly unrestricted submarine warfare as
efforts would be taken to avoid sinking neutral ships.[b]
Lusitania was scheduled to arrive in
Liverpool on 6 March 1915. The
Admiralty issued her specific instructions on how to avoid submarines.
Henry Oliver ordered HMS Louis and HMS Laverock to escort
Lusitania, and took the further precaution of sending the
Lyons to patrol
Liverpool Bay.[c] The destroyer commander attempted to
discover the whereabouts of
Lusitania by telephoning Cunard, who
refused to give out any information and referred him to the Admiralty.
At sea, the ships contacted
Lusitania by radio but did not have the
codes used to communicate with merchant ships. Captain Dow of
Lusitania refused to give his own position except in code, and since
he was, in any case, some distance from the positions they gave,
In response to this new submarine threat, some alterations were made
to the ship's protocols. She was ordered not to fly any flags in the
war zone, which was a contravention of the Cruiser Rules. Some
messages were sent to the ship's commander to help him decide how to
best protect his ship against the new threat, and it also seems that
her funnels were most likely painted dark grey to help make her less
visible to enemy submarines. Clearly, there was no hope of disguising
her identity, as her profile was so well known, and no attempt was
made to paint out the ship's name at the prow.[d]
Captain Dow, apparently suffering from stress from operating his ship
in the war zone, and after a significant "false flag" controversy,
left the ship; Cunard later explained that he was "tired and really
ill".[e] He was replaced by Captain William Thomas Turner, who had
previously commanded Lusitania, Mauretania, and Aquitania in the years
before the war.
On 17 April 1915,
Liverpool on her 201st transatlantic
voyage, arriving in New York on 24 April. A group of German-Americans,
hoping to avoid controversy if
Lusitania was attacked by a U-boat,
discussed their concerns with a representative of the German Embassy.
The embassy decided to warn passengers before her next crossing not to
sail aboard Lusitania. The Imperial German Embassy placed a warning
advertisement in 50 American newspapers, including those in New York:
Travellers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded
that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great
Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters
adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice
given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of
Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction in
those waters and that travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships
of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.
Imperial German Embassy
Washington, D.C., 22 April 1915.
This warning was printed adjacent to an advertisement for Lusitania's
return voyage. The warning led to agitation in the press and worried
some of the ship's passengers and crew.
Lusitania departed Pier 54
in New York, on 1 May 1915 at 12:20 p.m. A few hours
after the vessel's departure, the Saturday evening edition of The
Washington Times published two articles on its front page, both
referring to those warnings.
Main article: Sinking of the RMS Lusitania
On 7 May 1915
Lusitania was nearing the end of her 202nd crossing,
Liverpool from New York, and was scheduled to dock at the
Prince's Landing Stage later that afternoon. Aboard her were 1,266
passengers and a crew of 696, which combined totaled to 1,962
people. She was running parallel to the south coast of Ireland,
and was roughly 11 miles off the
Old Head of Kinsale
Old Head of Kinsale when the liner
crossed in front of U-20 at 14:10. Due to the liner's great speed,
some believe the intersection of the German
U-boat and the liner to be
coincidence, as U-20 could hardly have caught the fast vessel
otherwise. There are discrepancies concerning the speed of Lusitania,
as it had been reported travelling not near its full speed. Walther
Schwieger, the commanding officer of the U-boat, gave the order to
fire one torpedo, which struck
Lusitania on the starboard bow, just
beneath the wheelhouse. Moments later, a second explosion erupted from
within Lusitania's hull where the torpedo had struck, and the ship
began to founder much more rapidly, with a prominent list to
Almost immediately, the crew scrambled to launch the lifeboats but the
conditions of the sinking made their usage extremely difficult, and in
some cases impossible due to the ship's severe list. In all, only six
out of 48 lifeboats were launched successfully, with several more
overturning and breaking apart. Eighteen minutes after the torpedo
struck, the bow struck the seabed while the stern was still above the
surface, and finally the ship slid beneath the waves. Of the 1,962
passengers and crew aboard
Lusitania at the time of the sinking, 1,198
lost their lives. As in the sinking of Titanic, most of the casualties
were from drowning or hypothermia. In the hours after the sinking,
acts of heroism amongst both the survivors of the sinking and the
Irish rescuers who had heard word of Lusitania's distress signals
brought the survivor count to 764, three of whom later died from
injuries sustained during the sinking.
A British cruiser HMS Juno, which had heard of the sinking only a
short time after
Lusitania was struck, left her anchorage in Cork
Harbour to render assistance. Just south of Roche's Point at the mouth
of the harbour only an hour from the site of the sinking she turned
and returned to her mooring as a result, it is believed, on orders
Admiralty House in
Haulbowline naval base), then
known as Queenstown. By the following morning, news of the disaster
had spread around the world. While most of those lost in the sinking
were British or Canadians, the loss of 128 Americans in the disaster,
including writer and publisher Elbert Hubbard, theatrical producer
Charles Frohman, multi-millionaire businessman Alfred Vanderbilt, and
the president of Newport News Shipbuilding, Albert L. Hopkins,
outraged many in the United States.
The sinking caused an international outcry, especially in Britain and
across the British Empire, as well as in the United States, since 128
out of 139 U.S. citizens aboard the ship lost their lives. On 8
May, Dr Bernhard Dernburg, a German spokesman and a former German
Colonial Secretary, published a statement in which he said that
Lusitania "carried contraband of war" and also because she
"was classed as an auxiliary cruiser," Germany had a right to destroy
her regardless of any passengers aboard. Dernburg claimed warnings
given by the German Embassy before the sailing plus the 18 February
note declaring the existence of "war zones" relieved Germany of any
responsibility for the deaths of American citizens aboard. He referred
to the ammunition and military goods declared on Lusitania's manifest
and said that "vessels of that kind" could be seized and destroyed
under the Hague rules.[g]
Lusitania was indeed officially listed as an auxiliary war ship,
and her cargo had included an estimated 4,200,000 rounds of rifle
cartridges, 1,250 empty shell cases, and 18 cases of non-explosive
fuses, which was openly listed as such in her cargo manifest.
The day after the sinking, The
New York Times
New York Times published full details
of the ship's military cargo. Assistant Manager of the Cunard
Line, Herman Winter, denied the charge that she carried munitions, but
admitted that she was carrying small-arms ammunition, and that she had
been carrying such ammunition for years. The fact that Lusitania
had been carrying shells and cartridges was not made known to the
British public at the time.
In the 27-page additional manifest, delivered to U.S. customs 4–5
Lusitania sailed from New York, and in the Bethlehem Steels
papers, it is stated that the "empty shells" were in fact 1,248 boxes
of filled 3" shell, 4 shells to the box, totaling 103,000 pounds or 50
Woodrow Wilson refused to immediately declare war.
During the weeks after the sinking, the issue was hotly debated within
the U.S. government, and correspondence was exchanged between the U.S.
and German governments. German Foreign Minister Von Jagow continued to
Lusitania was a legitimate military target, as she was
listed as an armed merchant cruiser, she was using neutral flags and
she had been ordered to ram submarines – in blatant contravention of
the Cruiser Rules.
Von Jagow further argued that
Lusitania had on previous voyages
carried munitions and Allied troops. Wilson continued to insist
the German government apologise for the sinking, compensate U.S.
victims, and promise to avoid any similar occurrence in the
future. The British were disappointed with Wilson over his failure
to pursue more drastic actions. Secretary of State William Jennings
Bryan advised President Wilson that "ships carrying contraband should
be prohibited from carrying passengers ... [I]t would be like putting
women and children in front of an army." Bryan later resigned
because he felt the Wilson administration was being biased in ignoring
British contraventions of international law, and that Wilson was
leading the U.S. into the war.
A German decision on 9 September 1915 stated that attacks were only
allowed on ships that were definitely British, while neutral ships
were to be treated under the Prize Law rules, and no attacks on
passenger liners were to be permitted at all. A fabricated
story was circulated that in some regions of Germany, schoolchildren
were given a holiday to celebrate the sinking of Lusitania. This claim
was so effective that James W. Gerard, the U.S. ambassador to Germany,
recounted it in his memoir of his time in Germany, Face to Face with
Kaiserism (1918), though without substantiating its validity.
Almost two years later, in January 1917 the German Government
announced it would again conduct full unrestricted submarine warfare.
This together with the
Zimmermann Telegram pushed U.S. public opinion
over the tipping point, and on 6 April 1917 the United States Congress
followed President Wilson's request to declare war on Germany.
In 2014 a release of papers revealed that in 1982 the British
government warned divers of the presence of explosives on board:
Successive British governments have always maintained that there was
no munitions on board the
Lusitania (and that the Germans were
therefore in the wrong to claim to the contrary as an excuse for
sinking the ship) ... The facts are that there is a large amount of
ammunition in the wreck, some of which is highly dangerous. The
Treasury have decided that they must inform the salvage company of
this fact in the interests of the safety of all concerned.
7 May 2015 was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Lusitania. To
commemorate the occasion, Cunard's MS Queen Victoria undertook a
voyage to Cork, Ireland.
On 3 May, a flotilla set sail from the
Isle of Man
Isle of Man to mark the
anniversary. Seven Manx fishermen in The Wanderer had rescued 150
people from the sinking ship. Two of the bravery medals awarded to the
crew members are held at the
Leece Museum in Peel.
There are a number of conspiracy theories relating to the last days of
British Government deliberately putting
Lusitania at risk
There has long been a theory, expressed by historian and former
British naval intelligence officer
Patrick Beesly and authors Colin
Simpson and Donald E. Schmidt among others, that
deliberately placed in danger by the British authorities, so as to
U-boat attack and thereby drag the US into the war on the
side of Britain.  A week before the sinking of Lusitania,
Winston Churchill wrote to Walter Runciman, the President of the Board
of Trade, stating that it is "most important to attract neutral
shipping to our shores, in the hope especially of embroiling the
United States with Germany."
Beesly concludes: "unless and until fresh information comes to light,
I am reluctantly driven to the conclusion that there was a conspiracy
deliberately to put
Lusitania at risk in the hope that even an
abortive attack on her would bring the United States into the war.
Such a conspiracy could not have been put into effect without Winston
Churchill's express permission and approval."
At the post-sinking inquiry Captain Turner refused to answer certain
questions on the grounds of war-time secrecy imperatives. The British
government continues to keep secret certain documents relating to the
final days of the voyage, including certain of the signals passed
Admiralty and Lusitania. The records that are available
are often missing critical pages, and lingering questions include the
Were the British authorities aware (thanks to the secret decryption
activities of Room 40) that a German submarine was in the path of
Lusitania, but failed to divert the ship to a safer route?
Did they also fail to provide a destroyer escort, although destroyers
were available in a nearby port?
Was the ship ordered to reduce speed in the war zone, for reasons that
have been kept secret ever since?
How did such a big ship sink so quickly from a single torpedo strike?
Undeclared war munitions
Lusitania was officially carrying among her cargo 750 tons of
rifle/machine-gun ammunition, 1250 cases of shrapnel artillery shells
with the explosive burster charges loaded but no fuses or propellant
charges, and the artillery fuses for those shells stored
separately. Beesly has stated that the
cargo also included 46 tons of aluminium powder, which was used in the
manufacture of explosives and which was being shipped to the Woolwich
Arsenal, while Erik Larson has stated that the cargo included
50 barrels and 94 cases of aluminium powder, as well as 50 cases of
bronze powder. Author Steven Danver states that
Lusitania was also
secretly carrying a large quantity of nitrocellulose (gun cotton),
although this was not listed on the cargo manifest either.
Furthermore, there was a large consignment of fur, sent from Dupont de
Nemours, an explosives manufacturer, and 90 tons of butter and lard
destined for the
Royal Navy Weapons Testing Establishment in Essex.
Although it was May, this lard and butter was not refrigerated; it was
insured by the special government rate but the insurance was never
claimed. In September 2008, bullets of a type known to be used by
the British military were recovered from the wreck by diver Eoin
McGarry. They were found in an area of the ship not previously known
to have been carrying cargo.
Alleged bombardment/destruction of the wreck
It has been alleged that the wreck was bombed by the Royal Navy. A
Dublin-based technical diver, Des Quigley, who dived on the wreck in
the 1990s, reported that the wreck is "like Swiss cheese" and the
seabed around her "is littered with unexploded hedgehog mines".
In February 2009, the
Discovery Channel television series Treasure
Quest aired an episode titled "
Lusitania Revealed", in which Gregg
Bemis, a retired venture capitalist who owns the rights to the wreck,
and a team of shipwreck experts explore the wreck via a remote control
unmanned submersible. At one point in the documentary an unexploded
depth charge was found in the wreckage.
Professor William Kingston of Trinity College,
Dublin claimed that
"There's no doubt at all about it that the
Royal Navy and the British
government have taken very considerable steps over the years to try to
prevent whatever can be found out about the Lusitania".
The wreck of
Lusitania lies on its starboard side at an approximately
30-degree angle in roughly 300 feet (91 m) of water, 11 miles
(18 km) south of the lighthouse at Kinsale. The wreck is badly
collapsed onto her starboard side, due to the force with which she
struck the bottom coupled with the forces of winter tides and
corrosion in the decades since the sinking. The keel has an "unusual
curvature" which may be related to a lack of strength from the loss of
its superstructure. The beam is reduced with the funnels missing
presumably to deterioration.
The bow is the most prominent portion of the wreck with the stern
damaged by depth charges. Three of the four propellers were removed by
Oceaneering International in 1982. Expeditions to
Lusitania have shown
that the ship has deteriorated much faster than Titanic has, being in
a depth of 305 feet (93 m) of water. When contrasted with her
contemporary, Titanic (resting at a depth of 12,000 feet
Lusitania appears in a much more deteriorated state
due to the presence of fishing nets lying on the wreckage, the
blasting of the wreck with depth charges and multiple salvage
operations. As a result, the wreck is unstable and may at some point
Simon Lake's attempt to salvage in the 1930s
Between 1931 and 1935 an American syndicate comprising Simon Lake, one
of the chief inventors of the modern submarine, and a US Navy officer,
Captain H.H. Railey, negotiated a contract with the British Admiralty
and other British authorities to partially salvage Lusitania. The
means of salvage was unique in that a 200-foot (61 m) steel tube,
five feet in diameter, which enclosed stairs, and a dive chamber at
the bottom would be floated out over the
Lusitania wreck and then sunk
upright, with the dive chamber resting on the main deck of Lusitania.
Divers would then take the stairs down to the dive chamber and then go
out of the chamber to the deck of Lusitania. Lake's primary business
goals were to salvage the purser's safe and any items of historical
value. It was not to be though, and in Simon Lake's own words,
"... but my hands were too full"—i.e. Lake's company was having
financial difficulties at the time—and the contract with British
authorities expired 31 December 1935 without any salvage work being
done, even though his unique salvage tunnel had been built and
Gregg Bemis' salvage efforts
In 1967 the wreck of
Lusitania was sold by the
Liverpool & London
War Risks Insurance Association to former US Navy diver John Light for
£1,000. Gregg Bemis became a co-owner of the wreck in 1968, and by
1982 had bought out his partners to become sole owner. He subsequently
went to court in Britain in 1986, the US in 1995 and Ireland in 1996
to ensure that his ownership was legally in force.
None of the jurisdictions involved objected to his ownership of the
vessel but in 1995 the Irish Government declared it a heritage site
under the National Monuments Act, which prohibited him from in any way
interfering with her or her contents. After a protracted legal
wrangle, the Supreme Court in
Dublin overturned the Arts and Heritage
Ministry's previous refusal to issue Bemis with a five-year
exploration license in 2007, ruling that the then minister for Arts
and Heritage had misconstrued the law when he refused Bemis's 2001
application. Bemis planned to dive and recover and analyse whatever
artefacts and evidence could help piece together the story of what
happened to the ship. He said that any items found would be given to
museums following analysis. Any fine art recovered, such as the
paintings by Rubens,
Monet among other artists believed
to have been in the possession of Sir Hugh Lane, who was believed to
be carrying them in lead tubes, would remain in the ownership of the
In late July 2008 Gregg Bemis was granted an "imaging" licence by the
Department of the Environment, which allowed him to photograph and
film the entire wreck, and was to allow him to produce the first
high-resolution pictures of her. Bemis planned to use the data
gathered to assess how fast the wreck was deteriorating and to plan a
strategy for a forensic examination of the ship, which he estimated
would cost $5m. Florida-based
Odyssey Marine Exploration
Odyssey Marine Exploration (OME) were
contracted by Bemis to conduct the survey. The Department of the
Environment's Underwater Archaeology Unit was to join the survey team
to ensure that research would be carried out in a non-invasive manner,
and a film crew from the
Discovery Channel was also to be on
A dive team from Cork Sub Aqua Club, diving under licence, discovered
15,000 rounds of the .303 (7.7×56mmR) calibre rifle ammunition
Lusitania in boxes in the bow section of the ship. The
find was photographed but left in situ under the terms of the
licence. In December 2008, Gregg Bemis's dive team estimated a
further four million rounds of .303 ammunition were on the ship at the
time of its sinking. Mr. Bemis announced plans to commission further
dives in 2009 for a full-scale forensic examination of the wreck.
A salvage dive in July 2016 recovered, then lost, a telegraph machine
from the ship. This caused controversy, because the dive was
unsupervised by anyone with archaeological expertise and because the
telegraph was thought to have clues to the ship's sinking.
The joint American-German TV production, Sinking of the Lusitania:
Terror at Sea premiered on the
Discovery Channel on 13 May 2007, and
BBC One in the UK on 27 May 2007.
1984 British legal action
In 1982 various items were recovered from the wreck and brought ashore
in the United Kingdom from the cargo of Lusitania. Complex litigation
ensued, with all parties settling their differences apart from the
salvors and the British Government, who asserted "droits of admiralty"
over the recovered items. The judge eventually ruled in The Lusitania,
 QB 384,  1 All ER 1011, that the Crown has no rights over
wrecks outside British territorial waters, even if the recovered items
are subsequently brought into the United Kingdom.[h] The case remains
the leading authority on this point of law today.
Many works of art, media and entertainment were inspired by the
sinking of the vessel. These are discussed in Sinking of the RMS
Avis Dolphin, a survivor
Charles T. Jeffery, a survivor
List by death toll of ships sunk by submarines
The Carpet from Bagdad
The Carpet from Bagdad (1915), a film, of which a reel was recovered
from the wreck in 1982
Patrick Beesly, an author and historian
^ The ship's overall length is often misquoted at either 785 or
790 feet. 
^ Germany's second submarine campaign against the Allies during the
First World War was unrestricted in scope, as was submarine warfare
during the Second World War.
^ Referred to in Lusitania, by Preston (2002a), and Lusitania: An
Illustrated Biography by Layton (2010).
^ New photographic evidence presented in Lusitania: An Illustrated
^ Testimony of A.A. Booth at the Mersey Inquiry.
^ From Beesly (1982), pp. 84–85: U-20 log entry transcript. Log
first published in L'illustration in 1920
^ From NY Times & 9 May 1915, p. 4; "Justification of the
sinking of the liner
Lusitania by German submarines as a man of war
was advanced today by Dr Bernhard Dernburg, former German Colonial
Secretary and regarded as the Kaiser's official mouthpiece in the
United States. Dernburg gave out a statement at the Hollenden Hotel
following his arrival in Cleveland to address the City Club at noon on
Germany's attitude in the present war."
^ Section 518 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 had originally applied
to wrecks found or taken possession of within UK territorial limits,
but section 72 of the
Merchant Shipping Act 1906
Merchant Shipping Act 1906 extended that
provision to wrecks later brought into those limits; the court held
that as there was no duty on the salvors to bring the wreck into UK
waters, the Crown had no rights to wreck, or under the ancient Royal
Prerogative relating to "wreck of the sea throughout the realm, whales
and great sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm"
(Statute of 17 Edw II, c. 11).
^ a b c Atlantic Liners.
Lusitania Resource. "The
Lusitania Resource: Lusitania
Passengers & Crew, Facts & History". Rmslusitania.info.
Retrieved 3 June 2016.
^ (Ballard & Archbold 2005, p. 45)
^ (Ballard & Archbold 2005, p. 57)
^ Douglas Carl Peifer (June 1, 2016). Choosing War: Presidential
Decisions in the Maine, Lusitania, and Panay Incidents. Oxford
University Press. p. 269. The Lusitania, therefore, carried over
4 million rounds of small-arms ammunition (.303 calibre), almost 5,000
shrapnel shell casings, and 3,240 brass percussion fuses.
^ a b King, Greg; Wilson, Penny (24 February 2015). Lusitania:
Triumph, Tragedy, and the End of the Edwardian Age. St. Martin's
Press. p. 5. More lethal cargo loaded into the forward holds
between the bow and bridge included 4,2 million rounds of Remington
.303 rifle ammunition consigned to the British Royal Arsenal at
Woolwich; 1,248 cases of shrapnel-filled artillery shells from the
Bethlehem Steel Corporation, each case containing four 3-inch shells
for a total of some fifty tons; eighteen cases of percussion fuses;
and forty-six tons of volatile aluminium powder used to manufacture
^ a b c Davidson 1997, p. 89.
^ a b Butler 2003, p. 215.
^ a b Carlisle 2009, p. 73.
^ a b Tucker & Roberts 2005, p. 1146.
^ Simpson & 13 October 1972, p. 60.
Lusitania divers warned of danger from war munitions in 1982, papers
reveal, The Guardian, 1 May 2014.
^ Government papers released in 2014 confirmed the ship was carrying
war material, facebook.com; accessed 23 February 2017.
^ Ramsay 2001, pp. 6-10.
^ Ramsay 2001, pp. 12–17.
^ Ramsay 2001, pp. 19–21.
^ Venzon & Miles 1995, p. 357.
^ Maritime Quest; entry
Lusitania 1871 retrieved 1 October 2015
^ New York Times, 27 June 1901: "LUSITANIA WRECKED OFF NEWFOUNDLAND
COAST; Passengers Numbering More than 350 Escape in Lifeboats",
Wrecksite.eu; retrieved 1 October 2015.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, p. 5.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 5–8.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 22–24.
^ Ramsay 2001, p. 25.
^ Ballard & Dunmore 1995, p. 45.
^ Maxtone-Graham 1978, p. 33.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 18–20.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 20–21.
^ Keeling 2013.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 21–22.
^ Fox 2004, p. 403.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 10–11,14.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 12–13.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, p. 13.
^ Ramsay 2001, pp. 22–23.
^ Layton, J.Kent (2015).
Lusitania An Illustrated Biography.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 25–27.
^ Ramsay 2001, pp. 23–24.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 27–28.
^ Archibald, Rick & Ballard, Robert.The Lost Ships of Robert
Ballard, Thunder Bay Press: 2005; p. 46.
^ Archibald, Rick & Ballard, Robert."The Lost Ships of Robert
Ballard," Thunder Bay Press: 2005; pp. 51-52.
^ Titanic Inquiry.
^ Layton 2010, p. 55.
^ Hackett & Bedford 1996, p. 171.
^ Simpson 1972, p. 159.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 29–31.
^ Peeke, Jones & Walsh-Johnson 2002, pp. 32–34.
^ Full text of "The Hudson-Fulton celebration, 1909, the fourth annual
report of the Hudson-Fulton celebration commission to the Legislature
of the state of New York. Transmitted to the Legislature, May
twentieth, nineteen ten".
^ Sep 28th, 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM The First Aerial Canoe: Wilbur Wright
and the Hudson-Fulton Flights, by John Sanford, Core Scholar
Libraries, Wright State University
^ The Half Moon passing the great steamship Lusitania, Hudson-Fulton
Celebration, New York, U.S.A. The J. Paul Getty Museum, at
^ Denson 2006, p. 135.
^ Watson 2006, p. 9.
^ Craughwell & Kiester 2010, p. 133.
^ NY Times & 9 May 1915.
^ ICRC & 22 April 1930.
^ a b Simpson 1972, p. 60.
^ Layton 2010.
^ Beesly 1982, p. 95.
^ Preston 2002a, pp. 76-77.
^ Preston 2002b, pp. 91-92.
^ Larson, Erik (2015). Dead Wake.
^ Simpson & 13 October 1972, p. 69.
^ Butler 2003, p. 213.
^ "Articles referring to the German embassy warnings". The Washington
Times. 1 May 1915. p. Front page.
Lusitania people resource". Merseyside Maritime Museum. National
^ Preston 2002b, pp. 216–217.
^ Kemp, Bill (3 May 2015). "PFOP:
Lusitania sinking claimed life of
famed local Elbert Hubbard". The Pantagraph. Retrieved 18 April
^ Jones 2001, p. 78.
^ Halsey 1919, p. 255.
^ Watson 2006.
^ a b c NY Times & 10 May 1915.
^ Doswald-Beck & 31 December 1995, p. 124.
^ Ciment & Russell 2007, p. 379.
^ Rea & Wright 1997, p. 196.
^ a b c Larson, Erik (2015). Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the
Lusitania. Transworld – via Google Books.
^ Jones 2001, p. 73.
^ Tucker & Roberts 2005, p. 1413.
^ Brune 2003, p. 265.
^ Sondhaus 2011, p. 276.
^ Brune 2003, p. 365.
^ Zieger 1972, pp. 24-25.
^ Paterson et al 2009, p. 73.
^ a b Brune 2003, p. 366.
^ Gardiner, Gray & Budzbon 1985, p. 137.
^ Quinn 2001, pp. 54–55.
^ Protasio 2011, pp. 200-201.
^ The Guardian & 1 May 2014.
Lusitania divers warned of danger from war munitions in 1982,
papers reveal", The Guardian, 1 May 2014.
^ Cunard Line.
^ "RMS Lusitania: Manx flotilla marks centenary of sinking". BBC News.
Retrieved 4 May 2015.
^ a b Beesly 1982, p. 90.
^ a b Schmidt 2005, p. 71.
^ Denson 2006.
^ Beesly 1982, Chapter 7.
^ a b Steiger & Steiger 2006.
^ Doenecke 2011.
^ Preston 2002a, p. 384.
^ Douglas Carl Peifer (June 1, 2016). Choosing War: Presidential
Decisions in the Maine, Lusitania, and Panay Incidents. Oxford
University Press. p. 269. The Lusitania, therefore, carried over
4 million rounds of small-arms ammunition (.303 caliber), almost 5,000
shrapnel shell casings, and 3,240 brass percussion fuses.
^ Gittelman & Gittelman 2013, p. 199.
^ Hoehling 1996, p. 27.
^ Beesly 1982.
^ Danver 2010, p. 114.
^ a b c Sides & Goodwin Sides 2009.
^ Treasure Quest.
^ a b Bishop 2003.
^ Evening Post & 15 January 1932.
^ Popular Mechanics & February 1932.
^ Corey 1938, p. 295.
^ Rogers & March–April 2005.
^ Sharrock & 2 April 2007.
^ Shortall & 20 July 2008.
^ Goodwin Sides & 22 November 2008.
^ Greenhill & 20 December 2008.
^ Palmer & McKendrick 1998, p. 379.
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Lusitania – from Encyclopedia Titanica
RMS Lusitania, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
Lusitania pictures: Construction, engine, and interior photos;
disaster and wreck illustrations' – BigBadBattleships.com
The Home Port of RMS
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Lusitania on Chris' Cunard Page
RMSLusitania.info – passenger and crew lists, biographies, and deck
plans of the Lusitania
People of the
Lusitania - biographies of crew and passengers on the
Lusitania: life, loss, legacy - a major new exhibition at Merseyside
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Liverpool to mark the centenary year of the sinking
Lusitania on the wrecksite
CWGC record of Lt. Robert Matthews (
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Lusitania: Theodore Roosevelt Blames
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Professor Joseph Marichal (
Lusitania Passenger KIA WWI), reference
British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry
Lusitania Photo Gallery
Photo of one of the Lusitania's salvaged propellers at Merseyside
Maritime Museum in Liverpool
Lusitania sinking with photos from UK National Archives and BBC videos
"Lusitania, British Cunard liner". Encyclopedia Americana.
Photographs of Q.S.T.S.
Lusitania The album contains 59 photographs of
exterior and interior views of the Cunard Steamship Company ship,
R.M.S. Lusitania. Photographs in the album are by Bedford Lemere &
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Historical footage of the Lusitania, europeanfilmgateway.eu
People of the
Lusitania Crew and passengers on board the Lusitania
"Mr. Charles Emelius Lauriat, Jr".
IWM Interview with survivor Jane Lewis
IWM Interview with survivor Alice Drury
Lusitania in rough seas, painting by Antonio Jacobsen
Holder of the
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Ocean liners with four funnels
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SS Deutschland (1900)
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RMS Mauretania (1906)
SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie (1906)
SS France (1910)
RMS Olympic (1910)
RMS Titanic (1911)
RMS Aquitania (1913)
HMHS Britannic (1914)
RMS Arundel Castle (1921)
RMS Windsor Castle (1922)
Timeline of the world's largest passenger ships
Syracusia (240 BC)
Thalamegos (200 BC)
Caravel ships (1400s)
SS Royal William (1831)
SS Great Western (1837)
SS British Queen (1839)
SS President (1840)
SS Great Britain (1845)
HMS Himalaya (1854)
RMS Atrato (1854)
SS Great Eastern (1858)
RMS Celtic (1901)
RMS Baltic (1903)
RMS Empress of Scotland (1906)
RMS Mauretania (1907)
RMS Olympic (1911)
RMS Titanic (1912)
SS Imperator (1913)
SS Leviathan (1913)
RMS Majestic (1914)
SS Normandie (1935)
RMS Queen Mary (1936)
RMS Queen Elizabeth (1940)
MS Sovereign of the Seas (1987)
Sun Princess (1995)
Carnival Sunshine (1996)
Grand Princess (1997)
MS Voyager of the Seas (1999)
MS Explorer of the Seas (2000)
MS Navigator of the Seas (2002)
RMS Queen Mary 2 (2004)
MS Freedom of the Seas / MS Liberty of the Seas /
MS Independence of the Seas (2006)
MS Oasis of the Seas (2009)
MS Allure of the Seas (2010)
MS Harmony of the Seas (2016)
MS Symphony of the Seas (2018)
Ships of the Cunard Line
2004 RMS Queen Mary 2
2007 MS Queen Victoria
2010 MS Queen Elizabeth
Former ships 1840–1994
1840 RMS Britannia
1856 RMS Persia
1865 SS Java
1862 RMS Scotia
1870 SS Abyssinia
1870 SS Parthia
1878 SS Aleppo
1881 SS Servia
1881 SS Catalonia
1882 RMS Aurania
1884 RMS Etruria
1884 RMS Umbria
1892 RMS Campania
1893 RMS Lucania
1898 SS Ultonia
1899 SS Ivernia
1899 RMS Saxonia
1903 RMS Carpathia
1904 RMS Slavonia
1905 RMS Carmania
1905 RMS Caronia
1907 RMS Lusitania
1907 RMS Mauretania
1910 RMS Franconia
1911 RMS Albania
1912 RMS Laconia
1913 RMS Alaunia
1913 RMS Aquitania
1914 SS Orduna
1918 SS Empire Barracuda
1920 RMS Lancastria
1920 RMS Samaria
1921 RMS Antonia
1921 RMS Ausonia
1921 RMS Andania
1921 RMS Scythia
1922 RMS Andania
1922 RMS Berengaria
1922 RMS Franconia
1922 RMS Laconia
1922 RMS Majestic
1923 RMS Ascania
1924 RMS Aurania
1924 SS Letitia
1925 RMS Carinthia
1927 SS Laurentic
1929 MV Britannic
1934 MV Georgic
1934 RMS Olympic
1936 RMS Queen Mary
1939 RMS Mauretania
1939 SS Pasteur
1939 MV Empire Audacity
1940 RMS Queen Elizabeth
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1945 MV Empire Ettrick
1947 RMS Media
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1954 RMS Saxonia
1955 RMS Ivernia
1956 RMS Carinthia
1957 RMS Sylvania
MS Queen Elizabeth
MS Queen Elizabeth 2
1971 MS Cunard Adventurer
1972 MS Cunard Ambassador
1975 MS Cunard Countess
1976 MS Cunard Princess
1980 SS Atlantic Conveyor
1983 MS Sagafjord
1983 MS Caronia
1994 MS Royal Viking Sun
Years indicate year of entry into Cunard service.
Shipwrecks and maritime incidents in May 1915
1 May: Joule, HMS Recruit
2 May: America
3 May: Gul Djemal
Lusitania (sinking), HMS Maori
8 May: Don
12 May: HMS Goliath
23 May: SM UB-3
25 May: HMS Triumph
27 May: HMS Majestic, HMS Princess Irene
31 May: Merion
1 May: Gulflight
14 May: Vasco da Gama
25 May: Rijndam
27 May: Merion
1914 1915 1916
April 1915 June 1915