Lusitanian Sinks!!!

The Lusitanian had carried a complement of healthy Americans passengers when she departed from New York for Liverpool on May 1, 1915, despite the many warnings from the German authorities that appeared in U.S. newspapers the morning of departure. Many British merchant ships had been sunk by the German U-boats (subs), but the famous linerís speed still seemed the best guarantee of safety. Certainly Captain William Turner and crew should have been on high alert. As the Lusitanian neared the end of her crossing, a German U-boat sank three British ships in the waters south of Ireland through which she was about to sail, and he received repeatedly warnings of the German U- boats that were active in that area on his intended course.

Yet on May 7th, as the Lusitanian entered the most dangerous part of her passage, Captain William Turner actually slowed down, apparently worried about some patchy fog.

In fact the captain was ignoring or at least bending every one of the Admiraltyís directives for evading German submarines. The U-boat loved to lurk close to the shore which was where the Lusitanian was steaming just a bit too close, instead of the relative safety of the open channel.

Whether or not Turnerís behavior can be justified, it doomed the ship. When U- 20 under the command of Kapitanleutnant Walther Schwieger found a huge four stacker in its sights just south of Queenstown, Ireland, it was able to destroy her with a single torpedo, penetrating the hull just below the waterline. The initial explosion set off a violent secondary blast. The ship sank in eight-teen minute, with the lost of 1,195 of the 1,959 on board, including 123 Americans.

The lost of the Lusitanian provoked great outrage in the United States and helped create the climate of the public opinion to join the war. One of the many reasons the Lusitanian was sunk was caused by the Germans responded to the British blockade with a counter blockade by

U-boats. Any ship found in the waters around Britain would be sunk - and it would not always be possible to warn the crews and passengers of the attacks. Another reason is the Lusitanian was a British cargo and passenger ship. Some believe the Lusitanian might have been carrying war supplies for the allies, but no one knows for sure.But one thing is for sure we Americans will never forget the tragedy that has happened and the lives that have been taking.

By: Monique Turchan.