This page gives an overview on the situation and how it led to the sinking of the Lusitania

Background on situation of World War I
- At the time, France, Russia, and Britain were on one side (the "Allies" or Triple Entente) against Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy (Triple Alliance).  United States were isolationists and preferred staying neutral.

- Land war was at stalemate due to trench warfare so sea warfare, specifically U-boat warfare, began.

- Russia taken out of war, British involved in Second Battle of Ypres.

 

Details on warnings posted by Germans
On February 18th, 1915, Germany declared that all enemy vessels with their zone would be subject to destruction (by U-boat torpedoing) without warning.

Germans included notices near advertisements for the Lusitania warning about dangers in the seas.  Not all passengers saw it; however, those who did became very uneasy.  

There happened to be another ship heading towards the same destination that was departing the same day.  Passengers preferred the Lusitania over this ship because it took less time to travel the voyage.

NOTICE!
Travellers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travelers sailing in the war zone on ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.
IMPERIAL GERMAN EMBASSY WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 22, 1915.

 

Basic background information about the Lusitania
Dimensions: 232.31 X 26.75m
Weight: 32,5000-tons
Can hold: 563 1st class passengers, 464 2nd class passengers, 1,138 3rd class passengers
Capable of: 24 25 knots (can outrun any submarine)
Cost of one-way trip: $4000

The Lusitania is one of the largest man-made objects as well as one of the fastest ships.  It's portrayed design is much like the Titanic's and was believed to be "virtually unsinkable".  

It has seven decks and a black stern.


A computer generated image of the Lusitania

 

Timeline of significant voyages
- May 1905: construction of the Lusitania begins
- June 7, 1906: first launched in front of 200,000 
   spectators
- July 27, 1906: sterns vibrated when it moved at fast  
  speeds so modifications made to the ship  
  (second class cabins removed, bracing added for 
   support)
- Early 1908: first Atlantic crossing
- June 1908: outer propellers replaced
- January 16, 1915: involved in a high-profile 
   international accident
- May 7, 1915: the "Fateful Voyage"; traveling from New 
  York and sunken


The Lusitania on its maiden voyage

 

Interesting facts
- The Lusitania only got it's full passenger list after the prices were lowered.  This list included a multimillionaire Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, who had once booked a passage on the Titanic but didn't go due to a change in plans.
- In the amount of time (18 minutes) in which the Lusitania sank, it is a surprise that so many people survived.  It is suspected that some munitions were carried on the ship, leading to its rapid sinking.

 

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This website is copyrighted by Freda Auyeung (since 2000).  All rights reserved.