RMS Lusitania
Overview
 

RMS
Royal Mail Ship
Royal Mail Ship , usually seen in its abbreviated form RMS, a designation which dates back to 1840, is the ship prefix used for seagoing vessels that carry mail under contract by Royal Mail...

 Lusitania was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 ocean liner
Ocean liner
An ocean liner is a ship designed to transport people from one seaport to another along regular long-distance maritime routes according to a schedule. Liners may also carry cargo or mail, and may sometimes be used for other purposes .Cargo vessels running to a schedule are sometimes referred to as...

 designed by Leonard Peskett
Leonard Peskett
Leonard Peskett, OBE was the Cunard Line's Senior Naval Architect and Designer and the designer of sister ships RMS Mauretania and RMS Lusitania, as well as their 'half-sister,' RMS Aquitania, and the RMS Carmania....

 and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank
Clydebank
Clydebank is a town in West Dunbartonshire, in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. Situated on the north bank of the River Clyde, Clydebank borders Dumbarton, the town with which it was combined to form West Dunbartonshire, as well as the town of Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire, and the Yoker and...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. The ship entered passenger service with the Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

 on 26 August 1907 and continued on the line's heavily-traveled passenger service between Liverpool, England and New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, which included a port of call at Queenstown (now Cobh
Cobh
Cobh is a seaport town on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland. Cobh is on the south side of Great Island in Cork Harbour. Facing the town are Spike Island and Haulbowline Island...

) Ireland on westbound crossings and Fishguard, Wales on eastbound crossings.
Encyclopedia

RMS
Royal Mail Ship
Royal Mail Ship , usually seen in its abbreviated form RMS, a designation which dates back to 1840, is the ship prefix used for seagoing vessels that carry mail under contract by Royal Mail...

 Lusitania was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 ocean liner
Ocean liner
An ocean liner is a ship designed to transport people from one seaport to another along regular long-distance maritime routes according to a schedule. Liners may also carry cargo or mail, and may sometimes be used for other purposes .Cargo vessels running to a schedule are sometimes referred to as...

 designed by Leonard Peskett
Leonard Peskett
Leonard Peskett, OBE was the Cunard Line's Senior Naval Architect and Designer and the designer of sister ships RMS Mauretania and RMS Lusitania, as well as their 'half-sister,' RMS Aquitania, and the RMS Carmania....

 and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank
Clydebank
Clydebank is a town in West Dunbartonshire, in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. Situated on the north bank of the River Clyde, Clydebank borders Dumbarton, the town with which it was combined to form West Dunbartonshire, as well as the town of Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire, and the Yoker and...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. The ship entered passenger service with the Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

 on 26 August 1907 and continued on the line's heavily-traveled passenger service between Liverpool, England and New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, which included a port of call at Queenstown (now Cobh
Cobh
Cobh is a seaport town on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland. Cobh is on the south side of Great Island in Cork Harbour. Facing the town are Spike Island and Haulbowline Island...

) Ireland on westbound crossings and Fishguard, Wales on eastbound crossings. The ship was named after the ancient Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

 of Lusitania
Lusitania
Lusitania or Hispania Lusitania was an ancient Roman province including approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro river and part of modern Spain . It was named after the Lusitani or Lusitanian people...

, which is part of present day Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. During the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, as Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 waged submarine warfare
Submarine warfare
Naval warfare is divided into three operational areas: surface warfare, air warfare and underwater warfare. The latter may be subdivided into submarine warfare and anti-submarine warfare as well as mine warfare and mine countermeasures...

 against Britain, the ship was identified and torpedoed by the German U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 U-20 on 7 May 1915 and sank in eighteen minutes. The vessel went down eleven miles (18 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale
Old Head of Kinsale
The Old Head of Kinsale, is a headland near Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland. An early lighthouse was established here in the 17th century by Robert Reading...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, killing 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard, leaving 764 survivors. The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, contributed to the American entry into World War I
American entry into World War I
American entry into World War I came in April 1917, after 2½ years of efforts by President Woodrow Wilson to keep the United States neutral. Americans had no idea that a war was approaching in 1914...

 and became an iconic symbol in military recruiting campaigns of why the war was being fought.

Lusitania had the misfortune to fall victim to torpedo attack relatively early in the First World War, before tactics for evading submarines were properly implemented or understood. The contemporary investigations both in the UK and US into the precise causes of the ship's loss were obstructed by the needs of wartime secrecy and a propaganda campaign to ensure all blame fell upon Germany. Argument over whether the ship was a legitimate military target raged back and forth throughout the war as both sides made misleading claims about the ship. At the time she was sunk she was carrying a large quantity of rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

 ammunition and other supplies necessary for a war economy
War economy
War economy is the term used to describe the contingencies undertaken by the modern state to mobilise its economy for war production. Philippe Le Billon describes a war economy as a "system of producing, mobilising and allocating resources to sustain the violence".Many states increase the degree of...

, as well as civilian passengers. Several attempts have been made over the years since the sinking to dive to the wreck seeking information about precisely how the ship sank, and argument continues to the current day.

Development and construction

Lusitania and her sister ship Mauretania
RMS Mauretania (1906)
RMS Mauretania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear for the British Cunard Line, and launched on 20 September 1906. At the time, she was the largest and fastest ship in the world. Mauretania became a favourite among...

 were commissioned by Cunard, responding to increasing competition from rival transatlantic passenger companies, particularly the German Norddeutscher Lloyd
Norddeutscher Lloyd
Norddeutsche Lloyd was a German shipping company. It was founded by Hermann Henrich Meier and Eduard Crüsemann in Bremen on February 20, 1857. It developed into one of the most important German shipping companies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and was instrumental in the economic...

 (NDL) and Hamburg America Line
Hamburg America Line
The Hamburg Amerikanische Packetfahrt Actien Gesellschaft was a transatlantic shipping enterprise established in Hamburg, Germany during...

 (HAPAG). They had larger, faster, modern, more luxurious ships than Cunard and were better placed, starting from German ports, to capture the lucrative trade in emigrants leaving Europe for America. In 1897 the NDL liner Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse captured the Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

 from Cunard's
Campania
RMS Campania
RMS Campania was a British ocean liner owned by the Cunard Steamship Line Shipping Company, built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Govan, Scotland, and launched on Thursday, 8 September 1891....

, before the prize was taken in 1900 by the HAPAG ship
Deutschland
SS Deutschland (1900)
SS Deutschland was a passenger liner owned by the Hamburg America Line of Germany. She sailed for over 25 years under three different names. The second ship to have been built as a four funnel liner, she was built by Hamburg America as a response to the SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. She was the...

. NDL soon wrested the prize back in 1903 with the new
Kaiser Wilhelm II
SS Kaiser Wilhelm II
The second SS Kaiser Wilhelm II, was a 19,361 gross ton passenger steamer built at Stettin, Germany, completed in the spring of 1903. A famous photograph taken by Alfred Stieglitz called The Steerage as well as descriptions of the conditions of travel in the lowest class have conflicted with her...

and Kronprinz Wilhelm
SS Kronprinz Wilhelm
SS Kronprinz Wilhelm was a German passenger liner built for the Norddeutscher Lloyd, a former shipping company now part of Hapag-Lloyd, by the AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin, in 1901...

. Cunard saw their business steadily declining as a result of the so called
Kaiser class ocean liner
Kaiser class ocean liner
The Kaiser class ocean liners or Kaiserklasse refer to four transatlantic ocean liners of the Norddeutscher Lloyd, a German shipping company. Built by the AG Vulcan Stettin between 1897 and 1907, these ships were designed to be among the largest and best appointed liners of their day...

s.

The American millionaire businessman J. P. Morgan
J. P. Morgan
John Pierpont Morgan was an American financier, banker and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. In 1892 Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric...

 had decided to invest in trans-atlantic shipping by creating a new company International Mercantile Marine
International Mercantile Marine Co.
The International Mercantile Marine Co., originally the International Navigation Co., was a trust formed in the early twentieth century as an attempt by J.P. Morgan to monopolize the shipping trade. The end result was heavy losses for Morgan....

 (IMM), and in 1901 had purchased the British freight shipper Frederick Leyland & Co
Frederick Richards Leyland
Frederick Richards Leyland was a Liverpool shipowner and art collector.-Career:Leyland served as an apprentice in the firm of John Bibby, Sons & Co, where he rose to become a partner. In 1867 he took on the tenancy of Speke Hall, Liverpool and in 1869 bought a house in London at 49 Princes Gate...

 and a controlling interest in the passenger White Star Line
White Star Line
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanics sister ship Britannic...

. In 1902 a 'Community of Interest' was agreed between IMM, NDL and HAPAG to fix prices and divide between them the transatlantic trade. The partners also acquired a 51% stake in the Dutch Holland America Line
Holland America Line
The Holland America Line is a cruise shipping company. It was founded in 1873 as the Netherlands-America Steamship Company , a shipping and passenger line. Headquartered in Rotterdam and providing service to the Americas, it became known as Holland America Line...

. Offers were made to purchase Cunard, which with French CGT were now their principle rivals. Cunard declined the offer, but lacked the financial resources to respond with new ships. The chairman of Cunard, Lord Inverclyde
George Burns, 2nd Baron Inverclyde
George Arbuthnot Burns, 2nd Baron Inverclyde was a ship owner. Burns was the elder son of John Burns, First Baron Inverclyde ....

 approached the British government for assistance. Faced with the impending collapse of the British liner fleet and 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 wartime.

Design

Cunard established a committee to decide the design for the new ships. James Bain, Cunard's Marine Superintendent was the chairman, while other members included Rear Admiral H J Oram, who had been involved in designs for turbine powered ships for the navy, and Charles Parsons
Charles Algernon Parsons
Sir Charles Algernon Parsons OM KCB FRS was an Anglo-Irish engineer, best known for his invention of the steam turbine. He worked as an engineer on dynamo and turbine design, and power generation, with great influence on the naval and electrical engineering fields...

, whose company Parsons Marine
Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company
Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company was a British engineering company based in Wallsend, North England, on the River Tyne.-History:The company was founded by Charles Algernon Parsons in 1897 with £500,000 of capital, and specialised in building the steam turbine engines that he had invented for...

 was now producing revolutionary turbine engines. Parsons maintained that he could design engines capable of maintaining a speed of 25 knots, which would require 68,000 horse power. The largest turbine sets built thus far had been of 23,000 bhp for the Dreadnought
HMS Dreadnought (1906)
HMS Dreadnought was a battleship of the British Royal Navy that revolutionised naval power. Her entry into service in 1906 represented such a marked advance in naval technology that her name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships, the "dreadnoughts", as well as the class of...

class battleships, and 41,000 bhp for Invincible
HMS Invincible (1907)
HMS Invincible was a battlecruiser of the British Royal Navy, the lead ship of her class of three, and the first battlecruiser to be built by any country in the world. She participated in the Battle of Heligoland Bight in a minor role as she was the oldest and slowest of the British battlecruisers...

class battlecruisers, which meant the engines would be of a new untested design. Turbines offered the advantages of less vibration in operation, greater reliability at high speeds and better fuel consumption. It was agreed that a trial would be made by fitting turbines to Carmania
RMS Carmania (1905)
The RMS Carmania was a British ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by John Brown & Company for the Cunard Line. In World War I the Carmania was converted to an armed merchant cruiser.-History:...

 which was already under construction. The result was a ship 1.5 knots faster than her conventionally powered sister
Caronia with the expected improvements in passenger comfort and operating economy.

Lusitania was designed by Cunard's naval architect, Leonard Peskett. 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 powerplant. 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 connected to the two inner shafts only. To improve efficiency, the two propellers either side nearest the rudder rotated inwards, while the outer propellers rotated outwards. The outer turbines operated at high pressure, with the exhaust steam then passing to the inner low pressure turbines. The propellers were driven directly by the turbines since sufficiently robust gearboxes were not available until developed by Parsons in 1916. Instead turbines had to be designed to run much slower than their optimum efficient speeds. The efficiency of the installed turbines was less at low speeds than a conventional triple expansion piston steam engine, but significantly better when the engines were run at high speed, as was usually the case for an express liner. There were 23 double ended boilers and two single ended (fitting the forward space where the ship narrowed), operating at a maximum 195 psi and containing 192 individual furnaces. The Cunard board had decided to use Parsons
Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company
Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company was a British engineering company based in Wallsend, North England, on the River Tyne.-History:The company was founded by Charles Algernon Parsons in 1897 with £500,000 of capital, and specialised in building the steam turbine engines that he had invented for...

' turbine
Steam turbine
A steam turbine is a mechanical device that extracts thermal energy from pressurized steam, and converts it into rotary motion. Its modern manifestation was invented by Sir Charles Parsons in 1884....

 propulsion, which accounted for their 22-year retention of the speed record with her running mate RMS Mauretania
RMS Mauretania
Two ocean liners of the Cunard Line have been named RMS Mauretania, after the ancient territory of Mauretania:* RMS Mauretania , launched in 1906 and remained in service until 1934...

, the turbines produced less onboard noise and vibration and more horsepower compared to expansion engines used in earlier vessels. The ships were the largest ever built at the time they were constructed, and had 50% greater passenger space than their nearest rivals, allowing unprecedented luxury for all Saloon, Cabin and Steerage passengers.
Work to refine the hull shape was conducted in the Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 experimental tank at Haslar
Haslar
Haslar is place in England, at the southern tip of Alverstoke, on the Gosport peninsula, Hampshire. It takes its name from Anglo-Saxon hæsel-ōra = "hazel - landing place"...

, Portsmouth. As a result of experiments the beam of the ship was increased 10 feet (3 m) compared to the initial design to improve stability. The hull immediately in front of the rudder and the balanced rudder
Balanced rudder
The balanced rudder was an innovation in warship construction used as early as 1862 in the USS Monitor, one of the Union's first ironclads during the American Civil War...

 itself followed naval design practice to improve rapid turning. The Admiralty contract required that all machinery be below the waterline, where it was considered to be better protected from gunfire. The rear third of the ship below water was used for the turbines, steering motors and four steam turbine driven 375Kw generators. The central half contained four boiler rooms, with the remaining space at the front of the ship reserved for cargo and other storage. Coal bunkers were placed along the length of the ship sandwiched between the hull and the boiler rooms, with a large transverse bunker immediately in front of the 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 ships trim. The hull space was divided into twelve watertight compartments, any two of which could be flooded without the ship sinking, connected by 35 hydraulically operated watertight doors. A critical difficulty with the watertight compartment design was that sliding doors to the coalbunkers needed to be open to feed coal all the time 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 rather than the conventional mild steel. This allowed a reduction in plate thickness, reducing weight but still providing 26% 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 steady 65 °F (18.3 °C) while steam was injected into the airflow to maintain steady humidity. Forty-nine separate units driven by electric fans supplied seven complete air changes per hour throughout the ship in an interconnected system so that units could be switched out for maintenance. A separate system of exhaust fans removed air from galleys and bathrooms. As built, the ship conformed fully with Board of Trade
Board of Trade
The Board of Trade is a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, originating as a committee of inquiry in the 17th century and evolving gradually into a government department with a diverse range of functions...

 safety regulations, which required sixteen lifeboats, with a capacity of approximately 1000 people.

Lusitania was briefly the largest ship ever built at the time of her completion (due to the slightly larger Mauretania, entering service shortly after.). She was 70 feet (21.3 m) longer, two knots faster, and 10,000 tons larger than the most modern German liner, Kronprinzessin Cecilie
SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie
SS Kronprinzessin Cecilie was an ocean liner built in Stettin, Germany in 1906 for North German Lloyd that had the largest steam reciprocating machinery ever fitted to a ship. The last of four ships part of the kaiser class, she was also the last German ship to have been built with four funnels....

. 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. She had wireless telegraph, electric light, electrical lifts and sumptuous interiors.

Lusitania was constructed as part of the competition between the Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

 and other shipping lines, principally from Germany, for the trans-Atlantic passenger trade. Whichever company had the fastest and most luxurious ships had a commercial advantage: Lusitania and her sister
Mauretania
RMS Mauretania (1906)
RMS Mauretania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear for the British Cunard Line, and launched on 20 September 1906. At the time, she was the largest and fastest ship in the world. Mauretania became a favourite among...

 together provided a regular express service between Britain and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 until the intervention of the First World War. The two ships both held the Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

 speed record for a transatlantic crossing at different times in their careers.
Mauretania was generally the slightly faster of the two and continued to hold the record after the war until 1929.

The
Lusitania was designed so that she might readily be converted to an auxiliary cruiser in times of war as part of an agreement with the British government who provided a loan of £2.6 million to finance her and Mauretania's construction. The ships attracted an ongoing operating subsidy and also held a valuable mail contract. In the event, the ships proved to be impractical armed cruisers (the liners all had very high fuel consumption and were found to be too expensive for the Admiralty to operate). Lusitania and other express liners were released from the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 shortly after the commencement of the war with instructions to resume passenger services, while
Mauretania performed service as a troop ship. Cunard expressed a desire to lay up the ship for the duration of the war, but under the terms of the subsidy contract they were required to make all their ships available for government use and to carry government cargoes.

Interiors

At the time of their introduction both
Lusitania and Mauretania possessed the most luxurious interiors afloat. The Scottish
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

 architect James Millar was chosen to design Lusitania's interiors, while Harold Peto
Harold Peto
Harold Ainsworth Peto was a British landscape architect and garden designer, who worked in Britain and in Provence, France.-Biography:...

 was chosen to design
Mauretania. Millar 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. Lusitanias designs proved the more popular.

In common with all major liners of the period,
Lusitania’s 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
François Boucher
François Boucher was a French painter, a proponent of Rococo taste, known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories representing the arts or pastoral occupations, intended as a sort of two-dimensional furniture...

, it was elegantly realized throughout in the neoclassical
Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 Louis XVI
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

 style. The lower floor measuring 85 feet (25.9 m) could seat 323, with a further 147 on the 65 feet (19.8 m) upper floor. The walls were finished with white and gilt carved mahogany panels, with corinthian decorated columns where 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.
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
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

 liner and, in warm weather, one side of the café could be opened up to give the impression of sitting outdoors. However 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
Georgian architecture
Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I of Great Britain, George II of Great Britain, George III of the United...

 style with inlaid mahogany panels surrounding a jade green carpet with a yellow floral pattern, measuring overall 68 feet (20.7 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. Each end of the lounge had a 14 feet (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 pillasters 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
Mahogany
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany....

, and the windows featured etched glass. The smoking room was Queen Anne
Queen Anne Style architecture
The Queen Anne Style in Britain means either the English Baroque architectural style roughly of the reign of Queen Anne , or a revived form that was popular in the last quarter of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century...

 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 Trianon
Petit Trianon
The Petit Trianon is a small château located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in Versailles, France.-Design and construction:...

.

The second class public rooms were situated 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 with 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 feet (12.8 m) room had mahogany tables, chairs and setees set on a rose carpet. The smoking room was 52 feet (15.8 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. There were no second class cabin suites, only standard shared cabins.

Third class accommodation was plainer still, but, in comparison to other ships of the period, surprisingly comfortable and spacious. The 79 feet (24.1 m) dining room was at the bow of the ship on the saloon deck, finished in polished pine as were the other third class public rooms. Meals were eaten at long tables and there were two sittings for meals. A piano was provided for passenger use. A ladies lounge and smoking room were provided on the shelter deck immediately above the dining room. The roofed and partially enclosed space between the two had seating and provided some third class sheltered deck access in bad weather. Cabins were shared with a mixture of 2, 4 or 6 bunks and a wash basin, which was a significant improvement on previously typical dormitories.

The Bromsgrove Guild
Bromsgrove Guild
The Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts was a company of modern artists and designers associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement, founded by Walter Gilbert. The guild worked in metal, wood, plaster, bronze, tapestry, glass and other mediums....

 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 the furnishings.

Construction and trials

Lusitania's keel was laid at John Brown
John Brown & Company
John Brown and Company of Clydebank was a pre-eminent Scottish marine engineering and shipbuilding firm, responsible for building many notable and world-famous ships, such as the , the , the , the , the , and the...

 on Clydebank
Clydebank
Clydebank is a town in West Dunbartonshire, in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. Situated on the north bank of the River Clyde, Clydebank borders Dumbarton, the town with which it was combined to form West Dunbartonshire, as well as the town of Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire, and the Yoker and...

 as yard no. 367 on 16 June 1904, Lord Inverclyde hammering home the first rivet. Cunard nicknamed her 'the Scottish ship' in contrast to her sister whose contract went to Swan Hunter
Swan Hunter
Swan Hunter, formerly known as "Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson", was one of the best known shipbuilding companies in the world. Based in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, the company was responsible for some of the greatest ships of the early 20th century — most famously, the RMS Mauretania which...

 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 (185.9 m) compared to the 786 feet (239.6 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. 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 10 tons, attached to 125 ton, 330 fathom chains all manufactured by N. Hingley and 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 launch.

The ship was launched on 7 June 1906, eight weeks later than planned because of 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. 1000 tons of drag chains were attached to the hull by temporary rings to slow it once it entered the water. 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 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 over a measured mile at Skelmorlie with turbines running at 194 revolutions per minute producing 76,000 shp. However, 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 Isle of Man, and Isle of Aran and Ailsa Craig. Over 300 miles (482.8 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 (10.1 m), and managed 26.5 knots over a 60 miles (96.6 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 ships 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. In June 1908 the two outer propellers were replaced with others having a greater blade pitch which produced a modest improvement in performance. In April 1909 all four propellers were replaced with a four bladed design similar to those fitted on Mauretania with a six foot larger diameter weighing 23 tons. This change resulted in an approximate 1 knot increase in maximum speed and reduced vibration.

Comparison with the Olympic class

Lusitania and Mauretania
RMS Mauretania (1906)
RMS Mauretania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend, Tyne and Wear for the British Cunard Line, and launched on 20 September 1906. At the time, she was the largest and fastest ship in the world. Mauretania became a favourite among...

were smaller than the White Star Line
White Star Line
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanics sister ship Britannic...

's
Olympic-class
Olympic class ocean liner
The Olympic-class ocean liners were a trio of ocean liners built by the Harland & Wolff shipyard for the White Star Line in the early 20th century...

 vessels. Both vessels had been launched and had been in service for several years before the
Olympic class ships were ready for the North Atlantic. 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: . Like White Star Line's Olympic, Cunard's Aquitania had a lower service speed, but was a larger and more luxurious vessel.

The vessels of the
Olympic class also differed from Cunard's Lusitania and Mauretania in the way in which they were compartmented below the waterline. The White Star vessels were divided by transverse watertight bulkheads
Bulkhead (partition)
A bulkhead is an upright wall within the hull of a ship or within the fuselage of an airplane. Other kinds of partition elements within a ship are decks and deckheads.-Etymology:...

. While Cunard's
Lusitania also had transverse bulkheads, she additionally 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 Titanic disaster 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. Furthermore the ship's stability
Ship stability
Ship stability is an area of naval architecture and ship design that deals with how a ship behaves at sea, both in still water and in waves. Stability calculations focus on the center of gravity and center of buoyancy of vessels and on how these interact....

 was insufficient for the bulkhead arrangement used: Flooding of only three coal bunkers on one side could result in negative metacentric height
Metacentric height
The metacentric height is a measurement of the static stability of a floating body. It is calculated as the distance between the centre of gravity of a ship and its metacentre . A larger metacentric height implies greater stability against overturning...

. 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 capsize.

Career

Lusitania, commanded by Commodore James Watt, moored at the Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 landing stage for her maiden voyage
Maiden voyage
The maiden voyage of a ship, aircraft or other craft is the first journey made by the craft after shakedown. A number of traditions and superstitions are associated with it....

 at 16:30 on Saturday 7 September 1907 as the onetime Blue Riband holder
RMS Lucania
RMS Lucania
RMS Lucania was a British ocean liner owned by the Cunard Steamship Line Shipping Company, built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Govan, Scotland, and launched on Thursday, 2 February 1893....

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 21:00 for Queenstown
Cobh
Cobh is a seaport town on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland. Cobh is on the south side of Great Island in Cork Harbour. Facing the town are Spike Island and Haulbowline Island...

, where she was to take on more passengers. She anchored again at Roches Point, off Queenstown, at 09:20 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 on Sunday Lusitania was again under way and passing the Daunt Rock Lightship. In the first 24 hours she achieved 561 miles (902.8 km), with further daily totals of 575, 570, 593 and 493 miles (793.4 km) before arriving at Sandy Hook
Sandy Hook
Sandy Hook is a barrier spit along the Atlantic coast of New JerseySandy Hook may also refer to:-Places:United States* Sandy Hook , a village in the town of Newtown, Connecticut* Sandy Hook, Kentucky, a city in Elliott County...

 at 09:05 Friday 13 September, taking in total 5 days and 54 minutes, 30 minutes outside the record time held by
Kaiser Wilhelm II
SS Kaiser Wilhelm II
The second SS Kaiser Wilhelm II, was a 19,361 gross ton passenger steamer built at Stettin, Germany, completed in the spring of 1903. A famous photograph taken by Alfred Stieglitz called The Steerage as well as descriptions of the conditions of travel in the lowest class have conflicted with her...

 of the North German Lloyd line. Fog had delayed the ship on two days, and her engines were not yet run in. In New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the bank of the River Hudson from Battery Park to pier 56. All New York's police had been called out to control the crowd. 100 horse drawn cabs had been queuing from the start of the day ready to take away passengers. During the week's stay the ship was made available for guided tours. At 15:00 on Saturday 21 September, the ship departed on the return journey, arriving Queenstown 04:00 27 September and Liverpool 12 hours later. The return journey was 5 days 4 hours and 19 minutes, again delayed by fog.

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 proceeded her and she was met by a fleet of small craft, whistles blaring. Lusitania averaged 23.99 knots (47 km/h) westbound and 23.61 knots (46.3 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 (50.7 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 .

Hudson Fulton Celebration

Lusitania and other ships participated in the Hudson-Fulton Celebration
Hudson-Fulton Celebration
The Hudson-Fulton Celebration from September 25 to October 9, 1909 in New York and New Jerseywas an elaborate commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River and the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s first successful commercial application of the paddle...

 in New York City from the end of September to early October 1909. This was in celebration of the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson was an English sea explorer and navigator in the early 17th century. Hudson made two attempts on behalf of English merchants to find a prospective Northeast Passage to Cathay via a route above the Arctic Circle...

's trip up the river that bears his name
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 and the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton
Robert Fulton
Robert Fulton was an American engineer and inventor who is widely credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat...

's steamboat,
Clermont. 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 the aeroplane
Fixed-wing aircraft
A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopters in which lift is generated by flapping wings.A powered...

. Wilbur Wright had brought a Flyer
Wright Flyer
The Wright Flyer was the first powered aircraft, designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903 near the Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, U.S.The U.S...

 to Governors Island
Governors Island
Governors Island is a island in Upper New York Bay, approximately one-half mile from the southern tip of Manhattan Island and separated from Brooklyn by Buttermilk Channel. It is legally part of the borough of Manhattan in New York City...

 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.

War

When
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
Armed merchantmen
Armed merchantman is a term that has come to mean a merchant ship equipped with guns, usually for defensive purposes, either by design or after the fact. In the days of sail, piracy and privateers, many merchantmen would be routinely armed, especially those engaging in long distance and high value...

 if need be. At the outbreak of the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the British Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 considered her for requisition as an armed merchant cruiser, and she was put on the official list of AMCs. The Admiralty then cancelled their earlier decision and decided not to use her as an AMC after all; large liners such as Lusitania consumed enormous quantities of coal (910 tons/day, or 37.6 tons/hour) and became a serious drain on the Admiralty's fuel reserves, so express liners were deemed inappropriate for the role when smaller cruisers would do. They were also very distinctive; so smaller liners were used as transports instead. 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.

At the outbreak of hostilities, fears for the safety of
Lusitania and other great liners ran high. During the ship’s first east-bound crossing after the war started, she was painted in a drab grey colour scheme in an attempt to mask her identity and make her more difficult to detect visually. When it turned out that the German Navy was kept in check by the Royal Navy, and their commerce threat almost entirely evaporated, it very soon seemed that the Atlantic was safe for ships like Lusitania, if the bookings justified the expense of keeping them in service.

Many of the large liners were laid up over the autumn and winter of 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 recognizable 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. Economizing measures were taken, however. 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 (49 km/h) to 21 knots (41.2 km/h). Even so, she was the fastest first-class passenger liner left in commercial service.

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.

1915

By early 1915 a new threat began to materialize: submarines. At first they were used by the Germans only to attack naval vessels, and they achieved only occasional – but sometimes spectacular – successes. 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. 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
Unrestricted submarine warfare
Unrestricted submarine warfare is a type of naval warfare in which submarines sink merchantmen without warning, as opposed to attacks per prize rules...

 since efforts would be taken to avoid sinking neutral ships.

Lusitania was scheduled to arrive in Liverpool on 6 March 1915. The Admiralty issued her specific instructions on how to avoid submarines. Despite a severe shortage of destroyers, Admiral Henry Oliver
Henry Oliver
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Francis Oliver, GCB, KCMG, MVO was a British naval officer.-Naval career:...

 ordered HMS and to escort
Lusitania, and took the further precaution of sending the Q ship  to patrol Liverpool Bay. 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, continued to Liverpool unescorted.

It seems that in response to this new submarine threat, some alterations were made to
Lusitania and her operation. She was ordered not to fly any flags in the War Zone, a number of warnings and advices were sent to the ship’s commander in order 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 a dark grey to help make her less visible to enemy submarines. Clearly there was no hope of disguising her actual identity, since her profile was so well-known, and no attempt was made to paint out the ship’s name at the prow.

Captain Dow, apparently suffering from stress from operating his ship in the War Zone, and after a significant “false flag
False flag
False flag operations are covert operations designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is flying the flag of a country other than one's own...

” controversy, left the ship; Cunard later explained that he was "tired and really ill." He was replaced with a new commander, Captain William Thomas Turner
William Thomas Turner
William Thomas Turner was the Captain of the RMS Lusitania when it was sunk by a German torpedo in May 1915.-Early Life:...

, who had previously commanded Lusitania, Mauretania and Aquitania in the years before the war.

On 17 April 1915
Lusitania left Liverpool on her 201st transatlantic voyage, arriving in New York on 24 April. A group of German–Americans, hoping to avoid controversy if Lusitania were 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 (see illustration).

Departure

Lusitania departed Pier 54
Pier 54
Pier 54 in New York City is a former Cunard Line pier that is associated with the 1912 RMS Titanic and 1915 RMS Lusitania maritime disasters. It is now part of Hudson River Park.-Chelsea Piers:...

 in New York on 1 May 1915. The German Embassy in Washington had issued this warning on 22 April.


!

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.



Washington, D.C. 22nd April 1915


This warning was printed adjacent to an advertisement for Lusitanias return voyage. The warning led to some agitation in the press and worried the ship's passengers and crew.

Captain William Thomas Turner
William Thomas Turner
William Thomas Turner was the Captain of the RMS Lusitania when it was sunk by a German torpedo in May 1915.-Early Life:...

, known as "Bowler Bill" for his favourite shoreside headgear, had returned to his old command of
Lusitania. He was commodore of the Cunard Line and a highly experienced master mariner, and had relieved Daniel Dow, the ship's regular captain. Dow had been instructed by his chairman, Alfred Booth, to take some leave, due to the stress of captaining the ship in U-boat infested sea lanes and for his protestations that the ship should not become an armed merchant cruiser, making her a prime target for German forces.. Captain Turner tried to calm the passengers by explaining that the ship's speed made her safe from attack by submarine. However, Cunard shut down one of the ship's four boiler rooms to reduce costs on sparsely subscribed wartime voyages, reducing her top speed from 25.5 to around 22 knots.

Lusitania steamed out of New York at noon on May 1, two hours behind schedule because of a last-minute transfer of forty-one passengers and crew from the recently requisitioned Cameronia. Shortly after departure three German-speaking men were found on board hiding in a steward's pantry. Detective Inspector William Pierpoint of the Liverpool police, who was travelling in the guise of a first class passenger, interrogated them before locking them in the cells for further questioning when the ship reached Liverpool. Also among the crew was an Englishman, Neal Leach, who had been working as a tutor in Germany before the war. Leach had been interned but later released by Germany. The German embassy in Washington was notified about Leach's arrival in America where he met known German agents. Leach and the three German stowaways went down with the ship, but they had probably been tasked with spying on the Lusitania and its cargo. Most probably, Pierpoint would already have been informed about Leach.

Passengers

Lusitania carried 1,959 people on her last voyage, with 1,265 passengers and 694 crew aboard. Those aboard included a large number of illustrious and renowned people including:
  • Theodate Pope Riddle
    Theodate Pope Riddle
    Theodate Pope Riddle was an American architect. She was one of the first American women architects as well as a survivor of the Lusitania.-Life:...

    , American architect and philanthropist (survived)
  • Canadian businessman Sir Frederick Orr Lewis
    Frederick Orr Lewis
    Sir Frederick Orr Orr-Lewis, 1st Baronet was a Canadian businessman.Orr Lewis was born in Montreal, son of William Thomas Lewis, a Welsh immigrant. He joined his father's business, Lewis Brothers, and eventually became president...

    , 1st Baronet (survived)
  • William R. G. Holt, son and heir of Canadian banker Sir Herbert Samuel Holt
    Herbert Samuel Holt
    Sir Herbert Samuel Holt was an Irish-born Canadian civil engineer who became a businessman, banker, and corporate director....

     (survived)
  • Montreal socialite Frances McIntosh Stephens, wife of politician George Washington Stephens
    George Washington Stephens (senior)
    George Washington Stephens was a Canadian businessman, lawyer, and politician.Born in Swanton, Vermont, the son of Harrison Stephens and Sarah Jackson, his father was a wealthy Montreal merchant who was from Vermont and Stephens was born there when his mother was visiting...

     (died)
  • Mary Crowther Ryerson of Toronto, wife of George Sterling Ryerson
    George Sterling Ansel Ryerson
    George Sterling Ansel Ryerson was an Ontario physician, businessman and political figure. He represented Toronto in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1893 to 1898 as a Conservative and then Conservative-Protestant Protective Association member.He was born in Toronto in 1855, the son of...

    , founder of the Canadian Red Cross
    Canadian Red Cross
    The Canadian Red Cross Society is a Canadian humanitarian charitable organization and one of 186 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies....

     (died)
  • Lindon W. Bates, Jr., New York engineer, economist and political figure (died)
  • British former MP David Alfred Thomas
    David Alfred Thomas
    David Alfred Thomas, 1st Viscount Rhondda PC , sometimes known as D. A. Thomas, was a Welsh industrialist and Liberal politician...

     (survived)
  • His daughter Margaret, Lady Mackworth
    Margaret Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda
    Margaret Haig Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda was a Welsh peeress and active suffragette.In 1908 she joined the Women's Social and Political Union , and became secretary of the WSPU's Newport branch...

    , British suffragist (survived)
  • Edwin W. Friend, professor of philosophy at Harvard University
    Harvard University
    Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

     and co-founder of the American Society for Psychical Research
    American Society for Psychical Research
    The American Society for Psychical Research is an organisation dedicated to parapsychology based in New York, where it maintains offices and a library. It is open to interested members of the public to join, and has a website...

     (died, left a wife five months pregnant behind)
  • Oxford professor and writer Ian Holbourn (survived)
  • H. Montagu Allan
    H. Montagu Allan
    Sir Hugh Andrew Montague Allan, CVO was a Canadian banker, ship owner, and a sportsman who donated the Allan Cup, the trophy symbolic of men's amateur ice hockey supremacy in Canada.-Early life:...

    's wife Marguerite (survived) and daughters Anna (died) and Gwendolyn (died)
  • Actresses Rita Jolivet
    Rita Jolivet
    Rita Jolivet was an English actress of French descent in theater and silent movies in the early twentieth century...

     (survived), Josephine Brandell (survived) and Amelia Herbert (died)
  • Belgian nurse Marie Depage (died), wife of surgeon Antoine Depage
    Antoine Depage
    Dr. Antoine Depage , was the Belgian royal surgeon, the founder and president of the Belgian Red Cross, and one of the founders of Scouting in Belgium....

  • New York fashion designer Carrie Kennedy (died) and her sister, Kathryn Hickson (died)
  • American building contractor and hotel proprietor Albert Bilicke (died)
  • Renowned chemist Anne Justice Shymer, president of the United States Chemical Company (died)
  • Playwright Charles Klein
    Charles Klein
    Charles Klein was an English-born playwright and actor who emigrated to America in 1883. Among his works was the libretto of John Philip Sousa's operetta, El Capitan. Klein's talented siblings included the composer Manuel and the critic Herman Klein...

     (died)
  • American writer Justus Miles Forman
    Justus Miles Forman
    Justus Miles Forman was an American novelist and playwright. His only play, The Hyphen, appeared in 1915, but it did not receive the success Forman expected...

     (died)
  • American theatre impresario Charles Frohman
    Charles Frohman
    Charles Frohman was an American theatrical producer. Frohman was producing plays by 1889 and acquired his first Broadway theatre by 1892. He discovered and promoted many stars of the American theatre....

     (died)
  • American philosopher, writer and Roycroft
    Roycroft
    Roycroft was a reformist community of craft workers and artists which formed part of the Arts and Crafts movement in the USA. Elbert Hubbard founded the community in 1895 in the village of East Aurora, Erie County, New York, near Buffalo. Participants were known as Roycrofters...

     founder Elbert Hubbard
    Elbert Hubbard
    Elbert Green Hubbard was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher. Raised in Hudson, Illinois, he met early success as a traveling salesman with the Larkin soap company. Today Hubbard is mostly known as the founder of the Roycroft artisan community in East Aurora, New York, an...

     (died)
  • His wife Alice Moore Hubbard
    Alice Moore Hubbard
    Alice Moore Hubbard was a noted American feminist, writer, and, with her husband, Elbert Hubbard was a leading figure in the Roycroft movement – a branch of the Arts and Crafts Movement in England with which it was contemporary.Born Alice Luann Moore in Wales, New York to Welcome Moore and Melinda...

    , author and woman's rights activist (died)
  • Wine merchant and philanthropist George Kessler (survived)
  • American pianist Charles Knight (died) and sister, Elaine Knight (died)
  • Renowned Irish art collector and founder of the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery
    Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery
    Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane is an art gallery funded by Dublin City Council and located in Charlemont House in Dublin, Ireland. Charlemont House was originally the town house of James Caulfeild, the 1st Earl of Charlemont and was designed by Sir William Chambers.Previously called the...

     in Dublin Sir Hugh Lane
    Hugh Lane
    Sir Hugh Percy Lane is best known for establishing Dublin's Municipal Gallery of Modern Art and for his remarkable contribution to the visual arts in Ireland...

     (died)
  • American socialite Beatrice Witherbee (survived), wife of Alfred S. Witherbee, president of the Mexican Petroleum Solid Fuel Company
  • Her son Alfred Scott Witherbee, Jr. (died) and her mother, Mary Cummings Brown (died)
  • American engineer and entrepreneur Frederick Stark Pearson
    Frederick Stark Pearson
    Frederick Stark Pearson was an American electrical engineer and entrepreneur.-Biography:Dr. Frederick Stark Pearson was the son of Ambrose and Hannah Pearson. He graduated from Tufts University in 1883 with an A.M.B. and received an A.M.M. degree one year later...

     (died) and his wife Mabel (died)
  • Genealogist Lothrop Withington
    Lothrop Withington
    Lothrop Withington was a well-known American genealogist, historian, and book editor who was killed in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania....

     (died)
  • Sportsman, millionaire, member of the Vanderbilt family
    Vanderbilt family
    The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin prominent during the Gilded Age. It started off with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy...

    , Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt
    Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt
    Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I was an extremely wealthy sportsman and a member of the famous Vanderbilt family of philanthropists. He died on the .-Life:...

     (died) — last seen fastening a life vest onto a woman holding a baby.
  • Scenic designer Oliver P. Bernard (survived), whose sketches of the sinking were published in the Illustrated London News
    Illustrated London News
    The Illustrated London News was the world's first illustrated weekly newspaper; the first issue appeared on Saturday 14 May 1842. It was published weekly until 1971 and then increasingly less frequently until publication ceased in 2003.-History:...

  • Politician and future United States Ambassador to Spain
    United States Ambassador to Spain
    -Ambassadors:*John Jay**Appointed: September 29, 1779**Title: Minister Plenipotentiary**Presented credentials:**Terminated mission: ~May 20, 1782*William Carmichael**Appointed: April 20, 1790**Title: Chargé d'Affaires...

    , Ogden H. Hammond
    Ogden H. Hammond
    Ogden Haggerty Hammond was an American businessman, politician and diplomat who served as United States Ambassador to Spain from 1925 to 1929...

     of Louisville, Kentucky
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

     (survived) and his first wife, Mary Picton Stevens of Hoboken, New Jersey
    Hoboken, New Jersey
    Hoboken is a city in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,005. The city is part of the New York metropolitan area and contains Hoboken Terminal, a major transportation hub for the region...

     (died), a descendant of John Stevens and Robert Livingston Stevens
    Robert Livingston Stevens
    Colonel Robert Livingston Stevens was the son of Colonel John Stevens. In 1807, the father and son built the Phœnix, a steamship which became the first steamship to navigate the ocean successfully when she traveled from New York City to the Delaware River in 1809...

      (parents of former New Jersey
    New Jersey
    New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

     Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick
    Millicent Fenwick
    Millicent Hammond Fenwick was an American fashion editor, politician and diplomat. A four-term Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from New Jersey, she entered politics late in life and was renowned for her energy and colorful enthusiasm...

    )
  • Dr. Howard L. Fisher, brother of Walter L. Fisher
    Walter L. Fisher
    Walter Lowrie Fisher was United States Secretary of the Interior under President William Howard Taft from 1911 to 1913....

    , former United States Secretary of the Interior
    United States Secretary of the Interior
    The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...

     (survived)
  • Herbert S. Stone, New York newspaper editor and publisher, creator of magazines The Chap Book and The House Beautiful, son of Melville Elijah Stone (died)
  • Rev. Dr. Basil W. Maturin
    Basil W. Maturin
    Basil William Maturin was an Irish-born Anglican priest, preacher and writer who later became Roman Catholic. He died on board the RMS Lusitania, during the First World War....

    , British theologist, author and rector of Saint Clement's Church
    Saint Clement's Church, Philadelphia
    Saint Clement's Church is an historic Anglo-Catholic parish located at 2013 Appletree Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States and is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. On November 20, 1970, Saint Clement's Church was listed on the National Register of Historic...

     in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Pennsylvania
    The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

     (died)
  • Debutant Miss Phyllis Hutchinson, 20-year-old niece of businessman Robert A. Franks of West Orange, New Jersey
    West Orange, New Jersey
    West Orange is a township in central Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township population was 46,207...

    , financial agent for Andrew Carnegie
    Andrew Carnegie
    Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, and entrepreneur who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century...

     (died)
  • Irish composer and conductor T. O'Brien Butler (died)
  • Arthur Henry Adams, president of the United States Rubber Company
    United States Rubber Company
    The United States Rubber Company was founded in Naugatuck, Connecticut in 1892. It was one of the original 12 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and became Uniroyal Inc...

     (died)
  • James A. Dunsmuir, of Toronto, Canadian soldier, younger son of James Dunsmuir
    James Dunsmuir
    James Dunsmuir was a British Columbian industrialist and politician. Son of Robert Dunsmuir, he was heir to his family's coal fortune. The Dunsmuir family dominated the province's economy in the late nineteenth century and were a leading force in opposing organized labour...

     (died)
  • Charles T. Jeffery
    Charles T. Jeffery
    Charles Thomas Jeffery was an American businessman. He was the son of Thomas B. Jeffery, founder of Thomas B. Jeffery Company, an automobile manufacturer....

    , automobile manufacturer who became head of the Thomas B. Jeffery Company
    Thomas B. Jeffery Company
    The Thomas B. Jeffery Company was an American automobile manufacturer in Kenosha, Wisconsin from 1902 until 1916. The company manufactured the Rambler and Jeffery brand motorcars. It was preceded by the Gormully & Jeffery Manufacturing Company and it was the parent company to Nash Motors, thus one...

     after his father's death (survived)
  • Paul Crompton, director of Booth Steamship Company Ltd.
    Alfred Booth and Company
    Alfred Booth and Company was founded in 1863 by Alfred Booth and his more famous brother, the English philanthropist and poverty reformer, Charles Booth and grew from being a small merchant house into a large international concern.-History:...

     (died), and his wife Gladys (died), six children (died), and nanny (died)
  • Elisabeth Antill Lassetter, wife of Major General Harry B. Lassetter and sister of Major General John M. Antill (survived)
  • Josephine Eaton Burnside, daughter of Canadian department store founder Timothy Eaton
    Timothy Eaton
    Timothy Eaton was a Canadian businessman who founded the Eaton's department store, one of the most important retail businesses in Canada's history.-Early life and family:...

     (survived), and her daughter Iris Burnside (died)
  • Albert L. Hopkins, president of Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company (died)
  • William Sterling Hodges, wife Sarah and two sons, William and Dean (all died)
  • William Broderick Cloete, mining entrepreneur who was returning to London from Mexico. His body was not found.
  • George Stevens, butcher of Princes Risborough
    Princes Risborough
    Princes Risborough is a small town in Buckinghamshire, England, about 9 miles south of Aylesbury and 8 miles north west of High Wycombe. Bledlow lies to the west and Monks Risborough to the east. It lies at the foot of the Chiltern Hills, at the north end of a gap or pass through the Chilterns,...

    , Buckinghamshire, England who had emigrated to the US a few years earlier but had decided to return to England (survived)

Submarine activity

As the liner steamed across the ocean, the British Admiralty had been tracking the movements of U-20, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger
Walther Schwieger
Lieutenant Walther Schwieger was a German U-boat commander during the First World War, noted for his role in the sinking of the Lusitania....

, through wireless
Wireless
Wireless telecommunications is the transfer of information between two or more points that are not physically connected. Distances can be short, such as a few meters for television remote control, or as far as thousands or even millions of kilometers for deep-space radio communications...

 intercepts and radio direction finding. The submarine left Borkum
Borkum
Borkum is an island and a municipality in the Leer District in Lower Saxony, northwestern Germany.-Geography:Borkum is bordered to the west by the Westerems strait , to the east by the Osterems strait, to the north by the North Sea, and to the south by the Wadden Sea...

 on 30 April, heading north west across the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

. On 2 May she had reached Peterhead
Peterhead
Peterhead is a town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is Aberdeenshire's biggest settlement , with a population of 17,947 at the 2001 Census and estimated to have fallen to 17,330 by 2006....

 and proceeded around the north of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, and then along the western and southern coasts of Ireland, to enter the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
The Irish Sea separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. It is connected to the Celtic Sea in the south by St George's Channel, and to the Atlantic Ocean in the north by the North Channel. Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man...

 from the south. Although the submarine's departure, destination and expected arrival time were known to Room 40
Room 40
In the history of Cryptanalysis, Room 40 was the section in the Admiralty most identified with the British cryptoanalysis effort during the First World War.Room 40 was formed in October 1914, shortly after the start of the war...

 in the admiralty, the activities of the decoding department were considered so secret that they were unknown even to the normal intelligence division which tracked enemy ships or to the trade division responsible for warning merchant vessels. Only the very highest officers in the admiralty saw the information and passed on warnings only when they felt it essential.

On 27 March, Room 40 had intercepted a message which clearly demonstrated that the Germans had broken the code used to pass messages to British merchant ships. Cruisers protecting merchant ships were warned not to use the code to give directions to shipping because it could just as easily attract enemy submarines as steer ships away from them. Queenstown was not given this warning and continued to give directions in the compromised code, which was not changed until after Lusitanias sinking. At this time the Navy was significantly involved with operations leading up to the landings at Gallipoli, and the intelligence department had been undertaking a program of misinformation to convince Germany to expect an attack on her northern coast. As part of this, ordinary cross-channel traffic to the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 was halted from 19 April and false reports were leaked about troop ship movements from British west and south coast ports. This led to a demand from the German army for offensive action against the expected troop movements, and consequently, a surge in German submarine activity on the British west coast. The fleet was warned to expect additional submarines, but this warning was not passed on to those sections of the navy dealing with merchant vessels. The return of the battleship Orion from Devonport
HMNB Devonport
Her Majesty's Naval Base Devonport , is one of three operating bases in the United Kingdom for the Royal Navy . HMNB Devonport is located in Devonport, in the west of the city of Plymouth in Devon, England...

 to Scotland was delayed until 4 May and she was given orders to stay 100 miles (160.9 km) from the Irish coast.
On 5 May
U-20 stopped a merchant schooner
Schooner
A schooner is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts....

, the
Earl of Lathom off the Old Head of Kinsale
Old Head of Kinsale
The Old Head of Kinsale, is a headland near Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland. An early lighthouse was established here in the 17th century by Robert Reading...

, examined her papers, then ordered her crew to leave before sinking the schooner with gunfire. On 6 May,
U-20 fired a torpedo at Cayo Romano from Cuba, a British steamer flying a neutral flag, off Fastnet Rock
Fastnet Rock
Fastnet Rock is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean and the most southerly point of Ireland. It lies southwest of Cape Clear Island and from County Cork on the Irish mainland...

 missing by a few feet. The Royal Navy sent an uncoded warning to all ships at 10:30 pm on 5 May - "Submarines active off the south coast of Ireland" - and at midnight an addition was made to the regular nightly warnings, "submarine off Fastnet". On 6 May
U-20 sank the 6,000 ton steamer Candidate. It then failed to get off a shot at the 16,000 ton liner Arabic
SS Arabic (1902)
The SS Arabic was an ocean liner which entered service in 1903 for the White Star Line. She was sunk on 19 August 1915 by the German submarine U-24, south of Kinsale...

, because although she kept a straight course the liner was too fast, but then sank another 6,000 ton British cargo ship flying no flag,
Centurion, all in the region of the Coningbeg light ship. The specific mention of a submarine was dropped from the midnight broadcast on 6–7 May as news of the new sinkings had not yet reached the navy at Queenstown, and it was correctly assumed that there was no longer a submarine at Fastnet.

Captain Turner of
Lusitania was given a warning message twice on the evening of 6 May, and took what he felt were prudent precautions. He closed watertight doors, posted double lookouts, ordered a black-out, and had the lifeboats swung out on their davits so that they could be launched quickly if necessary. That evening a Seamen's Charities fund concert took place throughout the ship and the captain was obliged to attend the event in the first class lounge.

At about 11:00 on 7 May, the Admiralty radioed another warning to all ships, probably as a result of a request by Alfred Booth who was concerned about Lusitania: "U-boats active in southern part of Irish Channel. Last heard of twenty miles south of Coningbeg Light Vessel". Booth and all of Liverpool had received news of the sinkings, which the admiralty had known about by at least 3:00 that morning. Turner adjusted his heading northeast, not knowing that this report related to events of the previous day and apparently thinking submarines would be more likely to keep to the open sea, so that Lusitania would be safer close to land. At 13:00 another message was received, "Submarine five miles south of Cape Clear proceeding west when sighted at 10:00am". This report was entirely inaccurate as no submarine had been at that location, but gave the impression that at least one submarine had been safely passed.

U-20 was low on fuel and had only three torpedoes left. On the morning of 7 May visibility was poor and Schwieger decided to head for home. He submerged at 11:00 after sighting a fishing boat which he believed might be a British patrol and shortly after was passed while still submerged by a ship at high speed. This was the cruiser Juno
HMS Juno (1895)
HMS Juno was an of Britain's Royal Navy.Juno was assigned to the 11th Cruiser Squadron operating from Ireland. In 1915 she was sent to the Persian Gulf and took part in an engagement at Bushire in July-August 1915 against Tangistani raids under Rais Ali Delvari.In 1918 she was sent to the West...

 returning to Queenstown
Cobh
Cobh is a seaport town on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland. Cobh is on the south side of Great Island in Cork Harbour. Facing the town are Spike Island and Haulbowline Island...

, travelling fast and zig-zagging having received warning of submarine activity off Queenstown at 07:45. The admiralty considered these old cruisers highly vulnerable to submarines and indeed Schwieger attempted to target the ship.

Sinking

On the morning of 6 May,
Lusitania was 750 miles (1,207 km) west of southern Ireland. By 05:00 on 7 May she reached a point 120 miles (193.1 km) west south west of Fastnet Rock
Fastnet Rock
Fastnet Rock is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean and the most southerly point of Ireland. It lies southwest of Cape Clear Island and from County Cork on the Irish mainland...

 (off the southern tip of Ireland), where she met the patrolling boarding vessel
Armed boarding steamer
An armed boarding steamer was a type of warship used by the United Kingdom during World War I. Usually converted merchantmen, AB steamers or AB vessels were specifically designed for boarding an enemy vessel.-Vessels:*HMS Perth*HMS Suva...

 
Partridge. By 06:00, heavy fog had arrived and extra lookouts were posted. As the ship came closer to Ireland Captain Turner ordered depth soundings to be made and at 08:00 for speed to be reduced to eighteen knots, then to 15 knots and for the foghorn to be sounded. Some of the passengers were disturbed that the ship appeared to be advertising her presence. By 10:00 the fog began to lift, by noon it had been replaced by bright sunshine over a clear smooth sea and speed increased to 18 knots.

U-20 surfaced again at 12:45 as visibility was now excellent. At 13:20 something was sighted and Schwieger was summoned to the conning-tower: at first it appeared to be several ships because of the number of funnels and masts, but this resolved into one large steamer appearing over the horizon. At 13:25 the submarine submerged to periscope depth of 11 metres and set a course to intercept the liner at her maximum submerged speed of 9 knots. When the ships had closed to 2 miles (3.2 km) Lusitania turned away, Schwieger feared he had lost his target, but she turned again, this time onto a near ideal course to bring her into position for an attack. At 700m range he ordered one gyroscopic torpedo to be fired, set to run at a depth of three metres, which was fired at 14:10.

In Schwieger's own words, recorded in the log of
U-20:
The U-20s torpedo officer, Raimund Weisbach
Raimund Weisbach
Raimund Weisbach was an officer of the Kaiserliche Marine, and a U-boat commander during the First World War. He was the torpedo officer on the German U-boat, the U-20, who saw to the preparation and firing of the torpedo that sank the on 7 May 1915...

, viewed the destruction through the vessel's periscope and felt the explosion was unusually severe. Within six minutes,
Lusitanias forecastle
Forecastle
Forecastle refers to the upper deck of a sailing ship forward of the foremast, or the forward part of a ship with the sailors' living quarters...

 began to submerge.

Leslie Morton, an eighteen-year-old lookout at the bow, spotted thin lines of foam racing toward the ship. He shouted "Torpedoes coming on the starboard side!" through a megaphone, thinking the bubbles came from two projectiles. The torpedo struck
Lusitania under the bridge, sending a plume of debris, steel plating and water upward and knocking lifeboat number five off its davits. "It sounded like a million-ton hammer hitting a steam boiler a hundred feet high," one passenger said. A second, more powerful explosion followed, sending a geyser of water, coal, dust, and debris high above the deck. Schwieger's log entries attest that he only launched one torpedo. Some doubt the validity of this claim, contending that the German government subsequently altered the published fair copy of Schwieger's log, but accounts from other U-20 crew members corroborate it. The entries were also consistent with intercepted radio reports sent to Germany by U-20 once she had returned to the North Sea, before any possibility of an official coverup.
At 14:12 Captain Turner ordered Quartermaster Johnston stationed at the ship's wheel to steer 'hard-a-starboard' towards the Irish coast, which Johnston confirmed, but the ship could not be steadied on the course and rapidly ceased to respond to the wheel. Turner signalled for the engines to be reversed to halt the ship, but although the signal was received in the engine room, nothing could be done. Steam pressure had collapsed from 195 psi before the explosion, to 50 psi and falling afterwards. Lusitanias wireless operator sent out an immediate SOS
SOS
SOS is the commonly used description for the international Morse code distress signal...

, which was acknowledged by a coastal wireless station. Shortly afterward he transmitted the ship's position, 10 miles (16.1 km) south of the Old Head of Kinsale. At 14:14 electrical power failed, plunging the cavernous interior of the ship into darkness. Radio signals continued on emergency batteries, but electric lifts failed, trapping passengers and crew; bulkhead doors closed as a precaution before the attack could not be reopened to release trapped men.

Captain Turner gave the order to abandon ship. Water had flooded the ship's starboard longitudinal compartments, causing a 15-degree list to starboard.

Lusitanias severe starboard list complicated the launch of her lifeboats. Ten minutes after the torpedoing, when she had slowed enough to start putting boats in the water the lifeboats on the starboard side swung out too far to step aboard safely. While it was still possible to board the lifeboats on the port side, lowering them presented a different problem. As was typical for the period, the hull plates of Lusitania were riveted, and as the lifeboats were lowered they dragged on the inch high rivets, which threatened to seriously damage the boats before they landed in the water.
Many lifeboats overturned while loading or lowering, spilling passengers into the sea; others were overturned by the ship's motion when they hit the water. It has been claimed that some boats, because of the negligence of some officers, crashed down onto the deck, crushing other passengers, and sliding down towards the bridge. This has been refuted in various articles and by passenger and crew testimony. Crewmen would lose their grip on the falls—ropes used to lower the lifeboats—while trying to lower the boats into the ocean, and this caused the passengers from the boat to "spill into the sea like rag dolls." Others would tip on launch as some panicking people jumped into the boat. Lusitania had 48 lifeboats, more than enough for all the crew and passengers, but only six were successfully lowered, all from the starboard side. Lifeboat 1 had overturned as it was being lowered, spilling its original occupants into the sea. However, it managed to right itself shortly afterwards and was later filled with people from in the water. Lifeboats 9 and 11 managed to reach the water safely with only a few handfuls of people, but both later picked up many swimmers. Lifeboats 13 and 15 also safely reached the water, each overloaded with around seventy people. Finally, Lifeboat 21 managed to reach the water safely and cleared the ship only moments before her final plunge. A few of her collapsible lifeboats washed off her decks as she sank and provided refuge for many of those in the water.

There was panic and disorder on the decks. Schwieger had been observing this through U-20s periscope, and by 14:25, he dropped the periscope
Periscope
A periscope is an instrument for observation from a concealed position. In its simplest form it consists of a tube with mirrors at each end set parallel to each other at a 45-degree angle....

 and headed out to sea. Later in the war, Schwieger was killed in action when, as commander of , he was chased by , hit a British mine, and sank on 5 September 1917, north of Terschelling
Terschelling
Terschelling is a municipality and an island in the northern Netherlands, one of the West Frisian Islands.Waddenislanders are known for their resourcefulness in using anything and everything that washes ashore. With few trees to use for timber, most of the farms and barns are built with masts...

. There were no survivors from U-88's sinking.
Captain Turner remained on the bridge until the water rushed upward and destroyed the sliding door, washing him overboard into the sea. He took the ship's logbook
Logbook
A logbook was originally a book for recording readings from the chip log, and is used to determine the distance a ship traveled within a certain amount of time...

 and charts
Nautical chart
A nautical chart is a graphic representation of a maritime area and adjacent coastal regions. Depending on the scale of the chart, it may show depths of water and heights of land , natural features of the seabed, details of the coastline, navigational hazards, locations of natural and man-made aids...

 with him. He managed to escape the rapidly sinking Lusitania and find a chair floating in the water which he clung to. He survived, having been pulled unconscious from the water after spending three hours there. Lusitanias bow slammed into the bottom about 100 metres (328.1 ft) below at a shallow angle because of her forward momentum as she sank. Along the way, some boiler
Boiler
A boiler is a closed vessel in which water or other fluid is heated. The heated or vaporized fluid exits the boiler for use in various processes or heating applications.-Materials:...

s exploded, including one that caused the third funnel to collapse; the remaining funnels collapsed soon after. Turner's last navigational fix had been only two minutes before the torpedoing, and he was able to remember the ship's speed
Speed
In kinematics, the speed of an object is the magnitude of its velocity ; it is thus a scalar quantity. The average speed of an object in an interval of time is the distance traveled by the object divided by the duration of the interval; the instantaneous speed is the limit of the average speed as...

 and bearing
Bearing (navigation)
In marine navigation, a bearing is the direction one object is from another object, usually, the direction of an object from one's own vessel. In aircraft navigation, a bearing is the actual compass direction of the forward course of the aircraft...

 at the moment of the sinking. This was accurate enough to locate the wreck after the war. The ship travelled about two miles (3 km) from the time of the torpedoing to her final resting place, leaving a trail of debris and people behind. After her bow sank completely, Lusitanias stern rose out of the water, enough for her propellers to be seen, and went down.

Lusitania sank in only 18 minutes, 11.5 miles (19 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale. It took several hours for help to arrive from the Irish coast, but by the time help had arrived, many in the water had succumbed to the cold. By the days' end, 764 passengers and crew from the Lusitania had been rescued and landed at Queenstown. Eventually, the final death toll for the disaster came to a catastrophic number. Of the 1,959 passengers and crew aboard the Lusitania at the time of her sinking, 1,195 had been lost. In the days following the disaster, the Cunard line offered local fishermen and sea merchants a cash reward for the bodies floating all throughout the Irish Sea, some floating as far away as the Welsh coast. In all, only 289 bodies were recovered, 65 of which were never identified. The bodies of many of the victims were buried at either Queenstown, where 148 bodies were interred in the Old Church Cemetery, or the Church of St. Multose in Kinsale, but the bodies of the remaining 885 victims were never recovered.

Two days before U-20 had sunk the Earl of Lathom but first allowed the crew to escape in boats. According to international maritime law any military vessel stopping an unarmed civilian ship was required to allow those on board time to escape before sinking it. The conventions had been drawn up in a time before the invention of the submarine and took no account of the severe risk a small vessel such as a submarine faced if it gave up the advantage of a surprise attack. Schwieger could have allowed the crew and passengers of Lusitania to take to the boats, but he considered the danger of being rammed
Ramming
In warfare, ramming is a technique that was used in air, sea and land combat. The term originated from battering ram, a siege weapon used to bring down fortifications by hitting it with the force of the ram's momentum...

 or fired upon by deck guns too great. Merchant ships had, in fact, been advised to steer directly at any U-boat that surfaced. A cash bonus had been offered for any that were sunk, though the advice was carefully worded so as not to amount to an order to ram.

According to Bailey and Ryan, Lusitania was travelling without any flag and its name painted over with darkish dye.

One story states that when Lieutenant Schwieger of the U-20 gave the order to fire, his quartermaster, Charles Voegele, would not take part in an attack on women and children, and refused to pass on the order to the torpedo room — a decision for which he was court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

ed and imprisoned at Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

 until the end of the war.

Official inquiries into the sinking

Immediately following the sinking, on 8 May, the local county coroner John Hogan opened an inquest in Kinsale into the deaths of two males and three females whose bodies had been brought ashore by a local boat, Heron. Most of the survivors (and dead) had been taken to Queenstown instead of Kinsale, which was closer. On 10 May Captain Turner gave evidence as to the events of the sinking where he described that the ship had been struck by one torpedo between the third and fourth funnels. This had been followed immediately by a second explosion. He acknowledged receiving general warnings about submarines, but had not been informed of the sinking of Earl of Lathom. He stated that he had received other instructions from the admiralty which he had carried out but was not permitted to discuss. The coroner brought in a verdict that the deceased had drowned following an attack on an unarmed non-combatant vessel contrary to international law. Half an hour after the inquest had concluded and its results given to the press, the Crown Solicitor for Cork, Harry Wynne, arrived with instructions to halt it. Captain Turner was not to give evidence and no statements should be made about any instructions given to shipping about avoiding submarines.

Board of Trade investigation

The formal Board of Trade investigation into the sinking was presided over by Wreck Commissioner Lord Mersey
John Bigham, 1st Viscount Mersey
John Charles Bigham, 1st Viscount Mersey was a British jurist and politician. After early success as a lawyer, and a less successful spell as a politician, he was appointed a judge, working in commercial law....

 and took place in the Westminster Central Hall
Westminster Central Hall
The Westminster Central Hall or Methodist Central Hall is a Methodist church in the City of Westminster. It occupies the corner of Tothill Street and Storeys Gate just off Victoria Street in London, near the junction with The Sanctuary next to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre and facing...

 from 15–18 June 1915 with further sessions at the Westminster Palace Hotel on 1 July and Caxton Hall on 17 July. Lord Mersey had a background in commercial rather than maritime law but had presided over a number of important maritime investigations, including that into the loss of the Titanic. He was assisted by four assessors, Admiral Sir Frederick Samuel Inglefield, Lieutenant Commander Hearn and two merchant navy captains, D. Davies and J. Spedding. The Attorney General
Attorney General for England and Wales
Her Majesty's Attorney General for England and Wales, usually known simply as the Attorney General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown. Along with the subordinate Solicitor General for England and Wales, the Attorney General serves as the chief legal adviser of the Crown and its government in...

, Sir Edward Carson
Edward Carson, Baron Carson
Edward Henry Carson, Baron Carson PC, PC , Kt, QC , often known as Sir Edward Carson or Lord Carson, was a barrister, judge and politician from Ireland...

, represented the Board of Trade, assisted by the Solicitor General
Solicitor General for England and Wales
Her Majesty's Solicitor General for England and Wales, often known as the Solicitor General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, and the deputy of the Attorney General, whose duty is to advise the Crown and Cabinet on the law...

, F. E. Smith
F. E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead
Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead GCSI, PC, KC , best known to history as F. E. Smith , was a British Conservative statesman and lawyer of the early 20th century. He was a skilled orator, noted for his staunch opposition to Irish nationalism, his wit, pugnacious views, and hard living...

. Butler Aspinall, who had previously represented the Board of Trade at the Titanic inquiry, was retained to represent Cunard. A total of 36 witnesses were called, Lord Mersey querying why more of the survivors would not be giving evidence. Most of the sessions were public but two on 15 and 18 June were held in camera
In camera
In camera is a legal term meaning "in private". It is also sometimes termed in chambers or in curia.In camera describes court cases that the public and press are not admitted to...

 when evidence regarding navigation of the ship was presented.

Statements were collected from all the crew. These were all written out for presentation to the inquiry on standard forms in identical handwriting with similar phrasing. Quartermaster Johnston later described that pressure had been placed upon him to be loyal to the company, and that it had been suggested to him it would help the case if two torpedoes had struck the ship, rather than the one which he described. Giving evidence to the tribunal he was not asked about torpedoes. Other witnesses who claimed that only one torpedo had been involved were refused permission to testify. In contrast to his statement at the inquest, Captain Turner stated that two torpedoes had struck the ship, not one. In an interview in 1933, Turner reverted to his original statement that there had been only one torpedo. Most witnesses said there had been two, but a couple said three, possibly involving a second submarine. Clem Edwards, representing the seamen's union, attempted to introduce evidence about which watertight compartments had been involved but was prevented from doing so by Lord Mersey.

It was during the closed hearings that the Admiralty tried to lay the blame on Captain Turner, their intended line being that Turner had been negligent. The roots of this view began in the first reports about the sinking from Vice-Admiral Coke commanding the navy at Queenstown. He reported that "ship was especially warned that submarines were active on south coast and to keep mid-channel course avoiding headlands also position of submarine off Cape Clear at 10:00 was communicated by W/T to her..". Captain Webb, Director of the Trade Division, began to prepare a dossier of signals sent to the Lusitania which Turner may have failed to observe. First Sea Lord Fisher
John Fisher
Saint John Fisher was an English Roman Catholic scholastic, bishop, cardinal and martyr. He shares his feast day with Saint Thomas More on 22 June in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and 6 July on the Church of England calendar of saints...

 noted on one document submitted by Webb for review,"As the Cunard company would not have employed an incompetent man its a certainty that Captain Turner is not a fool but a knave. I hope that Turner will be arrested immediately after the enquiry whatever the verdict". First Lord Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 noted, "I consider the admiralties case against Turner should be pressed by a skilful counsel and that Captain Webb should attend as a witness if not employed as an assessor. We will pursue the captain without check". In the event, both Churchill and Fisher were replaced in their positions before the enquiry because of the failures of the Gallipoli campaign.
Part of the proceedings turned on the question of proper evasive tactics against submarines. It was put to Captain Turner that he had failed to comply with admiralty instructions to travel at high speed, maintain a zig-zag course and keep away from shore. Naval instructions about zig-zag were read to the captain, who confirmed that he had received them, though later added that they did not appear to be as he recollected. This was unsurprising, since the regulations quoted had only been approved on 25 April, after Lusitania's last arrival in New York, and started distribution 13 May, after she sank. Lusitania had slowed to 15 knots at one point because of fog, but had otherwise maintained 18 knots passing Ireland. 18 knots was faster than all but nine other ships in the British merchant fleet could achieve and was comfortably faster than the submarine. Although he might have achieved 21 knots and had given orders to raise steam ready to do so, he was also under orders to time his arrival at Liverpool for high tide so that the ship would not have to wait to enter port. Thus he chose to travel more slowly. At the time, no ship had been torpedoed travelling at more than 15 knots. Although the admiralty instructed ships to keep well offshore and it was claimed that Turner had been only been 8 miles (12.9 km) away, his actual distance when hit was thirteen miles (19 km). As a matter of established procedure, only ships travelling closer than five miles (8 km) from shore were ordinarily being censured for being too close.

Turner stated that he had discussed the matter of what course the ship should take with his two most senior officers, Captain Anderson and Chief Officer Piper, neither of whom survived. The three had agreed that the admiralty warning 'submarine activity 20 miles (32.2 km) south of Coningbeg', effectively overrode other admiralty advice to keep to 'mid channel', which was precisely where the submarine had been reported. He had therefore ordered the change of course at 12:40, intending to bring the ship closer to land and then take a course north of the reported submarine.

At one point in the proceedings Smith attempted to press a point he was making by quoting from a signal sent to British ships. Lord Mersey queried which message this was, and it transpired that the message in question existed in the version of evidence given to Smith by the Board of Trade Solicitor, Sir Ellis Cunliffe, but not in versions given to others. Cunliffe explained the discrepancy by saying that different versions of the papers had been prepared for use depending whether the enquiry had been in camera or not, but the message quoted appeared never to have existed. Lord Mersey observed that it was his job to get at the truth, and thereafter became more critical of admiralty evidence.

On 10 June, just before the hearing, significant changes were made to the Defence of the Realm Act, which made it an offence to collect or publish information about the nature, use or carriage of 'war materials' for any reason. Previously this had only been an offence if the information was collected to aid the enemy. This was used to prohibit discussion about the ship's cargo. The rifle cartridges carried by the Lusitania were mentioned during the case, Lord Mersey stating that "the 5,000 cases of ammunition on board were 50 yards away from where the torpedo struck the ship".

An additional hearing took place on 1 July at the insistence of Joseph Marichal, who was threatening to sue Cunard for their poor handling of the disaster. He testified that the second explosion had sounded to him like the rattling of machine gun fire and appeared to be below the second class dining room at the rear of the ship where he had been seated. Information about Marechal's background was sought out by the British government and leaked to the press so as to discredit him.

Captain Turner, the Cunard Company, and the Royal Navy were absolved of any negligence, and all blame was placed on the German government. Lord Mersey found that Turner "exercised his judgment for the best" and that the blame for the disaster "must rest solely with those who plotted and with those who committed the crime".

Two days after he closed the inquiry, Lord Mersey waived his fees for the case and formally resigned. His last words on the subject were: "The Lusitania case was a damned, dirty business!" The full report has never been made available to the public. A copy was thought to exist amongst Lord Mersey's private papers after his death but has since proved untraceable.

American court proceedings

In the United States, 67 claims for compensation were lodged against Cunard which were all heard together in 1918. Judge Julius Mayer
Julius Marshuetz Mayer
Julius Marshuetz Mayer was an American lawyer and politician.-Life:He attended the College of the City of New York and Columbia Law School before beginning a career in private practice in New York. During his years as a lawyer, Mayer also served as counsel to various state agencies...

, who was chosen to hear the case, had previously presided over the case brought following the loss of the Titanic, where he had ruled in favour of the shipping company. Mayer was a conservative who was considered a safe pair of hands with matters of national interest, and whose favourite remark to lawyers was to "come to the point". The case was to be heard without a jury. The two sides agreed beforehand that no question would be raised regarding whether Lusitania had been armed or carrying troops or ammunition. Thirty-three witnesses who could not travel to the US gave statements in England to Commissioner R. V. Wynne. Evidence produced in open court for the Mersey investigation was considered, but evidence from the British closed sessions was not. The Defence of the Realm Act
Defence of the Realm Act 1914
The Defence of the Realm Act was passed in the United Kingdom on 8 August 1914, during the early weeks of World War I. It gave the government wide-ranging powers during the war period, such as the power to requisition buildings or land needed for the war effort, or to make regulations creating...

 was invoked so that British witnesses could not give evidence on any subject it covered. Statements had been collected in Queenstown immediately after the sinking by the American Consul, Wesley Frost, but these were not produced.

Captain Turner gave evidence in England and now gave a more spirited defence of his actions. He argued that up until the time of the sinking he had no reason to think that zig-zagging in a fast ship would help. Indeed, that he had since commanded another ship which was sunk while zig-zagging. His position was supported by evidence from other Captains, who said that prior to the sinking of the Lusitania no merchant ships zig-zagged. Turner had argued that maintaining a steady course for 30 minutes was necessary to take a four point bearing and precisely confirm the ship's position, but on this point he received less support, with other captains arguing a two point bearing could have been taken in five minutes and would have been sufficiently accurate.

Many witnesses testified that portholes across the ship had been open at the time of the sinking, and an expert witness confirmed that such a porthole three feet under water would let in four tons of water per minute. Testimony varied on how many torpedoes there had been, and whether the strike occurred between the first and second funnel, or third and fourth. The nature of the official cargo was considered, but experts considered that under no conditions could the cargo have exploded. A record exists that Crewman Jack Roper wrote to Cunard in 1919 requesting expenses for his testimony in accord with the line indicated by Cunard.

Mayer's judgement was that "the cause of the sinking was the illegal act of the Imperial German Government", that two torpedoes had been involved, that the captain had acted properly and emergency procedures had been up to the standard then expected. He ruled that further claims for compensation should be addressed to the German government (which eventually paid $2.5 million in 1925).

German reaction

On 8 May Dr. Bernhard Dernburg
Bernhard Dernburg
Bernhard Dernburg was a German liberal politician and banker. He served as Secretary for Colonial Affairs and head of the Imperial Colonial Office from May 1907 to 9 June 1910, and as Federal Minister of Finance and Vice Chancellor of Germany from 17 April to 20 June 1919.-Background and banking...

, the former German Colonial Secretary, made a statement in Cleveland, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, in which he attempted to justify the sinking of Lusitania. At the time Dernburg was recognized as the official spokesman of the Imperial German government in the United States. Dernburg said that because Lusitania "carried contraband of war" and also because she "was classed as an auxiliary cruiser" Germany had had a right to destroy her regardless of any passengers aboard. Dernburg further said that the warnings given by the German Embassy before her sailing plus the 18 February note declaring the existence of "war zones" relieved Germany of any responsibility for the deaths of the 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 without any respect to a war zone.

The following day the German government issued an official communication regarding the sinking in which it said that the Cunard line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

r Lusitania "was yesterday torpedoed by a German submarine and sank", that Lusitania "was naturally armed with guns, as were recently most of the English mercantile steamers" and that "as is well known here, she had large quantities of war material in her cargo".

Dudley Field Malone, Collector of the Port of New York, issued an official denial to the German charges, saying that Lusitania had been inspected before her departure and no guns were found, mounted or unmounted. Malone stated that no merchant ship would have been allowed to arm itself in the Port and leave the harbour. Assistant Manager of the Cunard Line, Herman Winter, denied the charge that she carried munitions:
The fact that Lusitania had been carrying shells and cartridges was not made known to the British public at the time.

The sinking was severely criticized by and met with disapproval in Turkey
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

, while in the German press, the sinking was deplored by Vorwärts
Vorwärts
Vorwärts was the central organ of the Social Democratic Party of Germany published daily in Berlin from 1891 to 1933 by decision of the party's Halle Congress, as the successor of Berliner Volksblatt, founded in 1884....

, the daily newspaper of the Social Democratic Party of Germany
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

, and also by Captain Persius, an outspoken naval critic who wrote for the Berliner Tageblatt
Berliner Tageblatt
The Berliner Tageblatt or BT was a German language newspaper published in Berlin from 1872-1939. Along with the Frankfurter Zeitung, it became one of the most important liberal German newspapers of its time.-History:...

.

One Catholic Centre Party newspaper, the Kölnische Volkszeitung, stated: "The sinking of the giant English steamship is a success of moral significance which is still greater than material success. With joyful pride we contemplate this latest deed of our Navy. It will not be the last. The English wish to abandon the German people to death by starvation. We are more humane. We simply sank an English ship with passengers who, at their own risk and responsibility, entered the zone of operations.

In the aftermath of the sinking, the German government tried to justify it by claiming in an official statement that she had been armed with guns, and had "large quantities of war material" in her cargo. They also stated that since she was classed as an auxiliary cruiser, Germany had had a right to destroy her regardless of any passengers aboard, and that the warnings issued by the German Embassy before her sailing plus the 18 February note declaring the existence of "war zones", relieved Germany of any responsibility for the deaths of American citizens aboard. While it was true that Lusitania had been fitted with gun mounts as part of government loan requirements during her construction, to enable rapid conversion into an Armed Merchant Cruiser
Armed merchantmen
Armed merchantman is a term that has come to mean a merchant ship equipped with guns, usually for defensive purposes, either by design or after the fact. In the days of sail, piracy and privateers, many merchantmen would be routinely armed, especially those engaging in long distance and high value...

 (AMC) in the event of war, the guns themselves were never fitted. However, she was still listed officially as an AMC. 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, all of which were listed in her manifest, but the cartridges were not officially classed as ammunition by the Cunard Line. Various theories have been put forward over the years that she had also carried undeclared high explosives that were detonated by the torpedo and helped to sink her, but this has never been proven.

British and American actions

Schwieger was condemned in the Allied press as a war criminal.

Of the 139 US citizens aboard Lusitania, 128 lost their lives, and there was massive outrage in Britain and America, The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

calling it "a deed for which a Hun would blush, a Turk be ashamed, and a Barbary pirate apologise" and the British felt that the Americans had to declare war on Germany. However, US President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 refused to over-react. He said at Philadelphia on 10 May 1915:
When Germany began its submarine campaign against Britain, Wilson had warned that the US would hold the German government strictly accountable for any violations of American rights. On 1 May he stated that "no warning that an unlawful and inhumane act will be committed" could be accepted as a legitimate excuse for that act.

During the weeks after the sinking, the issue was hotly debated within the administration. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

 urged compromise and restraint. The US, he believed, should try to persuade the British to abandon their interdiction of foodstuffs and limit their mine-laying operations at the same time as the Germans were persuaded to curtail their submarine campaign. He also suggested that the US government issue an explicit warning against US citizens travelling on any belligerent ships. Despite being sympathetic to Bryan's antiwar feelings, Wilson insisted that the German government must apologise for the sinking, compensate US victims, and promise to avoid any similar occurrence in the future.

Wilson notes

Backed by State Department second-in-command Robert Lansing
Robert Lansing
Robert Lansing served in the position of Legal Advisor to the State Department at the outbreak of World War I where he vigorously advocated against Britain's policy of blockade and in favor of the principles of freedom of the seas and the rights of neutral nations...

, Wilson made his position clear in three notes to the German government issued on 13 May, 9 June, and 21 July.

The first note affirmed the right of Americans to travel as passengers on merchant ships and called for the Germans to abandon submarine warfare against commercial vessels, whatever flag they sailed under.

In the second note Wilson rejected the German arguments that the British blockade was illegal, and was a cruel and deadly attack on innocent civilians, and their charge that the Lusitania had been carrying munitions. William Jennings Bryan considered Wilson's second note too provocative and resigned in protest after failing to moderate it, to be replaced by Robert Lansing
Robert Lansing
Robert Lansing served in the position of Legal Advisor to the State Department at the outbreak of World War I where he vigorously advocated against Britain's policy of blockade and in favor of the principles of freedom of the seas and the rights of neutral nations...

 who later said in his memoirs that following the tragedy he always had the "conviction that we would ultimately become the ally of Britain".

The third note, of 21 July, issued an ultimatum, to the effect that the US would regard any subsequent sinkings as "deliberately unfriendly".

While the American public and leadership were not ready for war, the path to an eventual declaration of war had been set as a result of the sinking of the Lusitania. On 19 August U-24
SM U-24
SM U-24 was one of 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy in World War I. She was engaged in commerce warfare during the First Battle of the Atlantic....

 sank the White Star liner , with the loss of 44 passengers and crew, three of whom were American. The German government, while insisting on the legitimacy of its campaign against Allied shipping, disavowed the sinking of the Arabic; it offered an indemnity and pledged to order submarine commanders to abandon unannounced attacks on merchant and passenger vessels.

The British public, press, and government in general were upset at Wilson's actions — not realizing it reflected general US opinion at the time. They sneered "too proud or too scared". Shells that did not explode at the front were called "Wilsons".

German policy reversal

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1909 to 1917.-Origins:...

 persuaded the Kaiser to forbid action against ships flying neutral flags and the U-boat war was postponed once again on 27 August, as it was realised that British ships could easily fly neutral flags.

There was disagreement over this move between the navy's admirals (headed by Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz was a German Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871...

) and Bethman-Hollweg. Backed by Army Chief of Staff Erich von Falkenhayn
Erich von Falkenhayn
Erich von Falkenhayn was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. He became a military writer after World War I.-Early life:...

, Kaiser Wilhelm II endorsed the Chancellor's solution, and Tirpitz and the Admiralty backed down. The German restriction order of 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
Prize (law)
Prize is a term used in admiralty law to refer to equipment, vehicles, vessels, and cargo captured during armed conflict. The most common use of prize in this sense is the capture of an enemy ship and its cargo as a prize of war. In the past, it was common that the capturing force would be allotted...

 rules, and no attacks on passenger liners were to be permitted at all. The war situation demanded that there could be no possibility of orders being misinterpreted, and on 18 September Henning von Holtzendorff
Henning von Holtzendorff
Henning von Holtzendorff was a German admiral during World War I who became famous for his Dec 1916 memo to Kaiser Wilhelm II about unrestricted submarine warfare against the United Kingdom...

, the new head of the German Admiralty, issued a secret order: all U-boats operating in the English Channel and off the west coast of the United Kingdom were recalled, and the U-boat war would continue only in the North sea, where it would be conducted under the Prize Law rules.

British propaganda

It was in the interests of the British to keep US passions inflamed, and a fabricated story was circulated that in some regions of Germany, schoolchildren were given a holiday to celebrate the sinking of the Lusitania. This story was so effective that James W. Gerard
James W. Gerard
James Watson Gerard was a U.S. lawyer and diplomat.-Biography:Gerard was born in Geneseo, N. Y. He graduated from Columbia in 1890 and from New York Law School. He was chairman of the Democratic campaign committee of New York County for four years, and served as major of the National Guard of the...

, the US ambassador to Germany, recounted it in his memoir of his time in Germany, Face to Face with Kaiserism (1918), though without substantiating its validity.

Goetz medal

In August 1915, Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 medalist and sculptor Karl X. Goetz (1875–1950), who had produced a series of propagandist and satirical medals as a running commentary on the war, privately struck a small run of medals as a limited-circulation satirical attack (fewer than 500 were struck) on the Cunard Line for trying to continue business as usual during wartime. Goetz blamed both the British government and the Cunard Line for allowing the Lusitania to sail despite the German embassy's warnings.

One side of the medal showed the Lusitania sinking laden with guns (incorrectly depicted sinking stern first) with the motto "KEINE BANNWARE!" ("NO CONTRABAND!"), while the reverse showed a skeleton
Skeleton (undead)
A Skeleton is a type of physically manifested undead often found in fantasy, gothic and horror fiction, and mythical art. Most are human skeletons, but they can also be from any creature or race found on Earth or in the fantasy world.- Myth and folklore :...

 selling Cunard tickets with the motto "Geschäft Über Alles" ("Business Above All").

Goetz had put an incorrect date for the sinking on the medal, an error he later blamed on a mistake in a newspaper story about the sinking: instead of 7 May, he had put "5. Mai", two days before the actual sinking. Not realizing his error, Goetz made copies of the medal and sold them in Munich and also to some numismatic dealers with whom he conducted business.

The British Foreign Office obtained a copy of the medal, photographed it, and sent copies to the United States where it was published in the New York Times on 5 May 1916. Many popular magazines ran photographs of the medal, and it was falsely claimed that it had been awarded to the crew of the U-boat.

British replica of Goetz medal

The Goetz medal attracted so much attention that Lord Newton
Thomas Legh, 2nd Baron Newton
Thomas Wodehouse Legh, 2nd Baron Newton PC, DL , was a British diplomat and Conservative politician who served as Paymaster-General during the First World War.-Background and education:...

, who was in charge of Propaganda at the Foreign Office in 1916, decided to exploit the anti-German feelings aroused by it for propaganda purposes and asked department store entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge
Harry Gordon Selfridge
Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr. was an American-born retail magnate, who founded the British department store Selfridges.-Early years:...

 to reproduce the medal. The replica medals were produced in an attractive case claiming to be an exact copy of the German medal, and were sold for a shilling apiece. On the cases it was stated that the medals had been distributed in Germany "to commemorate the sinking of the Lusitania" and they came with a propaganda leaflet which strongly denounced the Germans and used the medal's incorrect date to claim that the sinking of the Lusitania was premeditated. The head of the Lusitania Souvenir Medal Committee later estimated that 250,000 were sold, proceeds being given to the Red Cross and St. Dunstan's Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Hostel. Unlike the original Goetz medals which were sand-cast from bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

, the British copies were of diecast iron and were of poorer quality.

Belatedly realizing his mistake, Goetz issued a corrected medal with the date of "7. Mai". The Bavarian government suppressed the medal and ordered their confiscation in April 1917. The original German medals can easily be distinguished from the English copies because the date is in German, i.e. with a dot behind the number; the English version was altered to read 'May' rather than 'Mai'. After the war Goetz expressed his regret that his work had been the cause of increasing anti-German feelings, but it remains a celebrated propaganda act.

Last survivor

The last survivor was Audrey Lawson-Johnston (née Pearl)
Audrey Pearl
Audrey Lawson-Johnston, née Audrey Warren Pearl was the last survivor of the sinking of the on May 7, 1915....

, who was three months old when the RMS Lusitania was sunk. She died on 11 January 2011. She became the last living survivor following the deaths of Barbara McDermott (née Anderson)
Barbara McDermott
Barbara McDermott was the last American survivor of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915, and one of the last two survivors.-Biography:...

 on 12 April 2008 and Ida Cantley on 31 December 2006.

Cultural influence

Charles Ives
Charles Ives
Charles Edward Ives was an American modernist composer. He is one of the first American composers of international renown, though Ives' music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years. Over time, Ives came to be regarded as an "American Original"...

's Orchestral Set No. 2 concludes with a movement entitled, From Hanover Square North, at the End of a Tragic Day, the Voice of the People Again Arose. It recounts Ives's experience waiting for an elevated train in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 as the news of the sinking of the Lusitania came through. The passengers assembled on the platform began singing "In The Sweet By and By
In the Sweet By and By
"The Sweet By-and-By" is a Christian hymn with lyrics by S. Fillmore Bennett and music by Joseph P. Webster. It is recognizable by its chorus:Mr. Webster, like many musicians, was of an exceedingly nervous and sensitive nature, and subject to periods of depression, in which he looked upon the dark...

" in time to a barrel organ
Barrel organ
A barrel organ is a mechanical musical instrument consisting of bellows and one or more ranks of pipes housed in a case, usually of wood, and often highly decorated...

 which was playing the tune. Echoes of their voices can be heard at the start of the music, and the hymn tune itself appears at the end.

Cruiser rules and exclusion zones

The "Prize rules" or "Cruiser rules", laid down by the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, governed the seizure of vessels at sea during wartime, although changes in technology such as radio and the submarine eventually made parts of them irrelevant. Merchant ships were to be warned by warships, and their passengers and crew allowed to abandon ship before they were sunk, unless the ship resisted or tried to escape, or was in a convoy protected by warships. Limited armament on a merchant ship, such as one or two guns, did not necessarily affect the ship's immunity to attack without warning, and neither did a cargo of munitions or materiel
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

.

In November 1914 the British announced that the entire North Sea was now a War Zone, and issued orders restricting the passage of neutral shipping into and through the North Sea to special channels where supervision would be possible (the other approaches having been mined). It was in response to this, and to the British Admiralty's order of 31 January 1915 that British merchant ships should fly neutral colours as a ruse de guerre, that Admiral Hugo von Pohl
Hugo von Pohl
Hugo von Pohl was a German admiral who during the First World War commanded the German High Seas Fleet from 1915 until shortly before his death from illness in 1916....

, commander of the German High Seas Fleet, published a warning in the Deutscher Reichsanzeiger (Imperial German Gazette) on 4 February 1915:
In response, the Admiralty issued orders on 10 February 1915 which directed merchant ships to escape from hostile U-boats when possible, but "if a submarine comes up suddenly close ahead of you with obvious hostile intention, steer straight for her at your utmost speed..." Further instructions ten days later advised armed steamers to open fire on a submarine even if it had not yet fired. Given the extreme vulnerability of a submarine to ramming or even small-caliber shellfire, a U-boat that surfaced and gave warning against a merchantman which had been given such instructions was putting itself in great danger. The Germans knew of these orders, even though they were intended to be secret, copies having been obtained from captured ships and from wireless intercepts; Bailey and Ryan in their "The Lusitania Disaster", put much emphasis on these Admiralty orders to merchantmen, arguing it was unreasonable to expect a submarine to surface and give warning under such circumstances. In their opinion this, rather than the munitions, the nonexistent armament, or any other suggested reason, is the best rationale for the Germans' actions in the sinking.

Contraband and second explosion

Included in Lusitania's cargo were 4,200,000 rounds of Remington 0.303 rifle cartridges, 1250 cases of empty 3-inch (76 mm) fragmentation
Fragmentation (weaponry)
Fragmentation is the process by which the casing of an artillery shell, bomb, grenade, etc. is shattered by the detonating high explosive filling. The correct technical terminology for these casing pieces is fragments , although shards or splinters can be used for non-preformed fragments...

 shell casings, and eighteen cases of non-explosive fuses, all of which were listed on the ship's two-page manifest, filed with U.S. Customs after she departed New York on 1 May. However, these munitions were classed as small arms ammunition, were non-explosive in bulk, and were clearly marked as such. It was perfectly legal under American shipping regulations for the liner to carry these; experts agreed they were not to blame for the second explosion. Allegations the ship was carrying more controversial cargo, such as fine aluminium powder, concealed as cheese on her cargo manifests, or guncotton (pyroxylene) disguised as casks of beef, have never been proven. Recent expeditions to the wreck have shown that her cargo holds remain intact and show no evidence of internal explosion.

In 1993, Dr. Robert Ballard
Robert Ballard
Robert Duane Ballard is a former United States Navy officer and a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island who is most noted for his work in underwater archaeology. He is most famous for the discoveries of the wrecks of the RMS Titanic in 1985, the battleship Bismarck in 1989,...

, the famous explorer who discovered Titanic and Bismarck, conducted an in-depth exploration of the wreck of Lusitania. Ballard found Light had been mistaken in his identification of a gaping hole in the ship's side. To explain the second explosion, Ballard advanced the theory of a coal-dust explosion. He believed dust in the bunkers would have been thrown into the air by the vibration from the explosion; the resulting cloud would have been ignited by a spark, causing the second explosion. In the years since he first advanced this theory, it has been argued that this is nearly impossible. Critics of the theory say coal dust
Coal dust
Coal dust is a fine powdered form of coal, which is created by the crushing, grinding, or pulverizing of coal. Because of the brittle nature of coal, coal dust can be created during mining, transportation, or by mechanically handling coal.-Explosions:...

 would have been too damp to have been stirred into the air by the torpedo impact in explosive concentrations; additionally, the coal bunker where the torpedo struck would have been flooded almost immediately by seawater flowing through the damaged hull plates.

More recently, marine forensic investigators have become convinced an explosion in the ship's steam-generating plant is a far more plausible explanation for the second explosion. There were very few survivors from the forward two boiler rooms, but they did report the ship's boilers did not explode; they were also under extreme duress in those moments after the torpedo's impact, however. Leading Fireman Albert Martin later testified he thought the torpedo actually entered the boiler room and exploded between a group of boilers, which was a physical impossibility. It is also known the forward boiler room filled with steam, and steam pressure feeding the turbines dropped dramatically following the second explosion. These point toward a failure, of one sort or another, in the ship's steam-generating plant. It is possible the failure came, not directly from one of the boilers in boiler room no. 1, but rather in the high-pressure steam lines to the turbines. Most researchers and historians agree that a steam explosion is a far more likely cause than clandestine high explosives for the second explosion.

The original torpedo damage alone, striking the ship on the starboard coal bunker of boiler room no. 1, would probably have sunk the ship without a second explosion. This first blast was enough to cause, on its own, serious off-centre flooding, although the sinking would possibly have been slower. The deficiencies of the ship's original watertight bulkhead design exacerbated the situation, as did the many portholes which had been left open for ventilation.

Simon Lake's attempt to salvage in the 1930s

Between 1931 and 1935 an American syndicate comprising Simon Lake
Simon Lake
Simon Lake was a Quaker American mechanical engineer and naval architect who obtained over two hundred patents for advances in naval design and competed with John Philip Holland to build the first submarines for the United States Navy.Born in Pleasantville, New Jersey, Lake joined his father's...

, 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 the Lusitania. The means of salvage was unique in that a 200 feet (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 the Lusitania. Divers would then take the stairs down to the diver chamber and then go out of the chamber to the deck of the 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 tested.

Recent developments

In 1967 the wreck of the 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 England 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
National Monument (Ireland)
The Irish state has officially approved the following List of National Monuments of Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland, a structure or site may be deemed to be a "National Monument", and therefore worthy of state protection, if it is of national importance...

, which prohibited him from in any way interfering with it or its 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 licence 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, Rembrandt and Monet among other artists believed to have been in the possession of Sir Hugh Lane
Hugh Lane
Sir Hugh Percy Lane is best known for establishing Dublin's Municipal Gallery of Modern Art and for his remarkable contribution to the visual arts in Ireland...

, who was believed to be carrying them in lead tubes, would remain in the ownership of the Irish Government.

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 it. Bemis planned to use the data gathered to assess the wreck's deterioration and to plan a strategy for a forensic examination of the ship, which he estimated would cost $5m. Florida-based 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 hand.

A dive team from Cork Sub Aqua Club, diving under license, discovered 15,000 rounds of the .303
.303 British
.303 British, or 7.7x56mmR, is a .311 inch calibre rifle and machine gun cartridge first developed in Britain as a blackpowder round put into service in December 1888 for the Lee-Metford rifle, later adapted to use smokeless powders...

 (7.7×56mmR) caliber rifle ammunition transported on the Lusitania in boxes in the bow section of the ship. The find was photographed but left in situ
In situ
In situ is a Latin phrase which translated literally as 'In position'. It is used in many different contexts.-Aerospace:In the aerospace industry, equipment on board aircraft must be tested in situ, or in place, to confirm everything functions properly as a system. Individually, each piece may...

under the terms of the license. 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.

The joint American-German production, The Sinking of the Lusitania: Terror at Sea
The Sinking of the Lusitania: Terror at Sea
Sinking of the Lusitania: Terror at Sea is an English-German Docu-drama produced in 2007. This 90-minute film is a dramatization of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915 by a German U-boat, U-20...

premiered on the Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is an American satellite and cable specialty channel , founded by John Hendricks and distributed by Discovery Communications. It is a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav...

 on 13 May 2007, and on BBC One
BBC One
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

 in the UK on 27 May 2007.

1950s damage from depth charges

Dublin-based technical diver Des Quiqley, who dived on the wreck in the 1990s with Bemis' permission, has reported that the wreck is "like Swiss cheese" and the seabed around her "is littered with unexploded hedgehog
Hedgehog (weapon)
The Hedgehog was an anti-submarine weapon developed by the Royal Navy during World War II, that was deployed on convoy escort warships such as destroyers to supplement the depth charge. The weapon worked by firing a number of small spigot mortar bombs from spiked fittings...

 mines". Royal Navy officials have claimed they had merely been "practising" on the wreck, but others have suggested that in fact the Navy was deliberately trying to destroy evidence. Professor William Kingston of Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin , formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, was founded in 1592 by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother of a university", Extracts from Letters Patent of Elizabeth I, 1592: "...we...found and...

 has said, "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".

In February 2009, the Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is an American satellite and cable specialty channel , founded by John Hendricks and distributed by Discovery Communications. It is a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav...

 TV series Treasure Quest
Treasure Quest (TV series)
Treasure Quest is a one-hour weekly American documentary reality television series that premiered on January 15, 2009 on the Discovery Channel. The program follows the employees of Odyssey Marine Exploration...

 aired an episode titled "Lusitania Revealed", in which Gregg Bemis and a team of shipwreck experts explore the wreck via remote control unmanned submersible. At one point in the show it is mentioned that Cobh locals have believed for years that in the 1950s during a two week period, the Royal Navy dropped depth charges on the wreck, greatly worsening its condition. It was stated that numerous Cobh residents on shore heard the blasting and saw navy ships hovering over the area of the wreck. At one point in the show an unexploded depth charge was found in the wreckage, in plain sight, clearly seen by the remote control submersible's video camera. Gregg Bemis, as well as other people on the team, believe the British Royal Navy deliberately bombed the Lusitania site to "make the wreck as unattractive as possible, to prevent further salvage" and to "prevent divers from going in and finding that there was contraband cargo". No government has ever admitted to the depth charging. The narrator says the depth charges probably crushed the upper decks of the ship, and further scattered the debris field.

1984 British legal action

In 1982 various items were recovered from the wreck and brought ashore in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 from the cargo of the Lusitania. Complex litigation ensued, with all parties settling their differences apart from the salvors and the British Government, who asserted "droits of admiralty
Droit
A droit is a legal title, claim or due.-Droits of admiralty :The term is used in English law in the phrase "droits of admiralty". This refers to certain customary rights or perquisites, formerly belonging to the Lord High Admiral, but now to the crown, for public purposes and paid into the...

" over the recovered items. The judge eventually ruled in The Lusitania [1986] QB 384 that the Crown has no rights over wrecks outside British territorial waters
Territorial waters
Territorial waters, or a territorial sea, as defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is a belt of coastal waters extending at most from the baseline of a coastal state...

, even if the recovered items are subsequently brought into the United Kingdom. The case remains the leading authority on this point of law today.

Wreck site

The wreck of the Lusitania lies on its starboard side at an approximately 30 degree angle in 93 meters of sea water. The keel
Keel
In boats and ships, keel can refer to either of two parts: a structural element, or a hydrodynamic element. These parts overlap. As the laying down of the keel is the initial step in construction of a ship, in British and American shipbuilding traditions the construction is dated from this event...

 has an "unusual curvature" which may be related to a lack of strength from the loss of its superstructure
Superstructure
A superstructure is an upward extension of an existing structure above a baseline. This term is applied to various kinds of physical structures such as buildings, bridges, or ships...

. The beam
Beam (nautical)
The beam of a ship is its width at the widest point. Generally speaking, the wider the beam of a ship , the more initial stability it has, at expense of reserve stability in the event of a capsize, where more energy is required to right the vessel from its inverted position...

 is reduced with the funnels
Funnel (ship)
A funnel is the smokestack or chimney on a ship used to expel boiler steam and smoke or engine exhaust. They can also be known in as stacks.-Purpose:...

 missing presumably to deterioration. The bow
Bow (ship)
The bow is a nautical term that refers to the forward part of the hull of a ship or boat, the point that is most forward when the vessel is underway. Both of the adjectives fore and forward mean towards the bow...

 is the most prominent portion of the wreck with the stern
Stern
The stern is the rear or aft-most part of a ship or boat, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter rail to the taffrail. The stern lies opposite of the bow, the foremost part of a ship. Originally, the term only referred to the aft port section...

 damaged from depth charging in WWII as well as the removal of three of the four propellers by Oceaneering International
Oceaneering International
Oceaneering International Inc. is an applied technology company based in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. that provides engineered services and hardware to customers who operate in marine, space, and other environments...

 in 1982.

Further reading

  • Bailey, Thomas A. "The Sinking of the Lusitania," The American Historical Review, Vol. 41, No. 1 (October 1935), pp. 54–73 in JSTOR
  • Bailey, Thomas A. "German Documents Relating to the 'Lusitania'", The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Sep., 1936), pp. 320–37 in JSTOR
  • Bailey, Thomas A. and Paul B. Ryan. The Lusitania Disaster: An Episode in Modern Warfare and Diplomacy (1975)
  • Ballard, Robert D., & Dunmore, Spencer. (1995). Exploring the Lusitania. New York: Warner Books.(available at Internet Archive)
  • Bernier, Michelle. "Did these Stories Really Happen?". (2010). Createspace
  • Hoehling, A.A. and Mary Hoehling. (1956). The Last Voyage of the Lusitania. Maryland: Madison Books.
  • Ljungström, Henrik. Lusitania. The Great Ocean Liners.
  • O'Sullivan, Patrick. (2000). The Lusitania: Unravelling the Mysteries. New York: Sheridan House.
  • Preston, Diana. (2002). Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy. Waterville: Thorndike Press. Preston (2002 p 384)
  • Simpson, Colin. LIFE (1972 p 58). The Lusitania Sinking.
  • The Sunday Times, (2008) "Is The Riddle of The Lusitania About to be Solved?"
  • Linda and Gary Cargill "Those Who Dream By Day"
  • Timeline, The Lusitania Resource.
  • Facts and Figures, The Lusitania Resource.


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK