RMS Lusitania

RMS Lusitania

RMS Lusitania history:

The Lusitania and her sister, the Mauretania, were the Cunard Line’s answer to the new and highly advanced ocean liners of the Hamburg-America and Norddeutscher Lloyd Lines of Germany, as well as the ever-growing power of the International Mercantile Marine Company. Built in Scotland and financed with the assistance of the British Government under the condition that these ships serve as auxiliary cruisers during wartime, the Lusitania was launched in 1906 and in service in 1907. 

Lusitania quickly grew in popularity and won the Blue Ribband for both Eastbound and Westbound crossings, losing both to the Mauretania not long after. She was equipped with turbine engines, rather than reciprocating engines, which allowed her to maintain speeds of 25 knots, making her one of the fastest ships on the seas. In addition to her speed, she was considered to be one of the most luxurious liners of her day.

In 1909, Lusitania participated in the New York City Hudson-Fulton Celebration, where she was to demonstrate the pinnacle of steamship technology. During this celebration, Wilbur Wright, of the Wright Brothers, flew a flyer directly over the liner several times. A year later, Lusitania was struck with a rogue wave which damaged her slightly and permanently altered the shape of her bridge and decks.

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Lusitania was requisitioned as an armed merchant cruiser by the British Admiralty, though she was allowed to continue her transatlantic passenger service. On many of her crossings, she carried weapons and ammunition exported from the United States to aid the British military. This was no secret, as it’s postulated today, and was common knowledge by all passengers who traveled on her.

In May, 1915, while en route to Liverpool and steaming along the coast of southern Ireland, she was torpedoed by German submarine U-20. With one torpedo, the ship was most likely damaged beyond the point of surviving indefinitely. However, a second explosion occurred that was caused either by a main steam line, a boiler, or a combination of both that made a very bad situation worse. She sank in only 18 minutes with a loss of 1,198 souls. While not the only factor, the Lusitania disaster was one of the leading causes of the United States entering the First World War.