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
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.