Twilight of the Edwardian: RMS Lusitania, the Final Voyage. A Special Event

Discussion in 'News' started by rent, Apr 29, 2015.

  1. rent

    rent Guild Master

    18 Minutes of Terror

    May 7th, 1915 at 2:10pm Shiptime

    RMS Lusitania had just left a cloud of fog earlier the same morning to reveal the clear, beautiful day. The great ship was about 11 miles from the Irish coast - the Old Head of Kinsale was visible in the distance. The ship was steaming at approximately 22 knots. Curiously, Lusitania did not receive an escort from the Admiralty, It usually would have arrived by this point in the voyage. But all seemed well anyways.

    On deck, first class passengers were finishing lunch, and enjoying the view of Ireland when suddenly a thud - described by one passenger as a "looking glass falling to the floor" - and the shudder of metal.



    Shortly after, a second explosion followed. This was unlikely to have been triggered by either munitions or coal dust, rather, a failure of the steam generator plant due to ruptured high pressure steam lines. A large geyser of water was visible high above the black smoke of the first funnel. The sound of splintering wood was audible as lifeboat 5 hit the ocean water, knocked off the davit by the impact of the torpedo.


    Within 4 minutes of impact, the ship's steam power plant had failed, trapping many inside.

    The ship was still moving, which would prove a problem with launching lifeboats. The still rotating propellors would literally turn into a blender, shredding the boat and its occupants to pieces. About 10 minutes would pass before it became safe enough to disembark.


    Because the ship was listing to starboard, lifeboats on the other side of the ship became impossible to launch. The scene on starboard was chaotic, with lifeboats turning over, dumping their passengers into the ocean. Yet another swung back into the deck, crushing people waiting to board it.



    It was curious to note that there were multiple people taking pictures while the ship was sinking. There was even one photographer attempting to snap photos from the top of an overturned lifeboat. As far as we know, none of these images have surfaced, or survived.

    By 2:28pm, Lusitania had disappeared beneath the waves, of the 1,959 people onboard, 1,198 of them perished either inside the ship or from exposure.

    The Total War Zone


    Today, May 6th, marks the entrance of the great ship into the total war zone set up around the British Isles - specifically Ireland, by the Germans. The Lusitania is approaching the end of her transatlantic crossing. Tomorrow she will dock at Liverpool. As a sign of precaution, lifeboats were swung out, watertight doors closed, skylights blacked out, and smoking on deck was banned. The Lusitania also began zig-zagging to better avoid u-boat attacks.

    Since May 1st... "German submarines [have] sank 23 merchant ships in the waters just south of Ireland, through which Lusitania was now sailing. News of none of these attacks reached Lusitania, despite specific requests from survivors of the SS Candidate, which had been sunk on 6 May."

    Furthermore, the ship was rather safe. She had enough lifeboats for everyone onboard. This change was made in 1912 after the famous sinking of the Titanic. Her speed was more than fast enough to outpace any u-boats. And as with previous wartime crossings, the ship was to receive a escort as she approached the coast.

    The Lusitania also had another safety feature in the event of an attack: watertight bulkheads. The ship would remain afloat with any 2 penetrated.

    The Lusitania and her sister, Mauretania, were built with both longitudinal and transverse bulkheads (See illustration). The transverse bulkheads were thought to better protect the machinery of the ship from shelling. Coal bunkers were placed along the outside portion of the bulkhead and separated by a watertight door. This arrangement worked against traditional surface attack as the machinery was better protected. However, this arrangement was ill suited for underwater attack because multiple compartments would be opened up to water. This would cause Lusitania to list enough to one side to compromise her stability, causing her to capsize and sink.

    As a side fun fact: Lusitania's watertight bulkhead arrangement would have been catastrophic in the event of a Titanic like iceberg collision, as her stability would have been compromised in the first few minutes of the collision, resulting in a capsize of the ship.

    Royal Mail Streamer


    If anything, the maiden voyage of the Lusitania represented the climax of innovation in an era that had enjoyed rapid paces of technological growth. As the first of the four funneled liners, Lusitania's success helped to cement the view of mans triumph over nature. Size was power and safety, and the Lusitania leapfrogged over every other ship in all categories, including interiors in all classes, especially third class.

    Even though she was known for her speed, RMS Lusitania was also known as a floating palace. Liners of the Edwardian era featured a mish-mash of historic interior designs that resembled 5-star hotels, and the grand palaces of the imperial families of Europe. Her height and size allowed for larger public spaces. The first class dining room for instance, was two floors high and further capped with a dome. While the ship featured many luxuries for her richest passengers, Lusitania was a breakthrough in third class accommodation. In the Edwardian era, third class was were immigrants began their journey to a new life. Of course, fares were reasonable, but historically accommodations were squalid, usually consisting of large rooms of cots with no privacy. The designers of the Lusitania sought to change this paradigm by creating comparatively comfortable cabins that could hold 4-6 people.

    The Edwardian Greyhound


    The Lusitania and her sister, Mauretania, were first envisioned in 1902. The idea was grand and the result was no less disappointing. The Lusitania and her sisters, Mauretania and Aquitania were the most important Edwardian era liners ever built.

    They were designed to be the fastest, and largest ships ever. Both were also symbols of national pride as the ships were a statement that Britain had not fallen behind in the passenger trade. Lusitania’s top speed of 26 knots warranted cutting edge technology. But it needed to be tested first.

    So, in 1904-05, two ships were fitted with these test engines, the Caronia with the quadruple expansion type and its sister, Carmania, which was outfitted with Parson's steam turbines. The cutting edge steam turbine fitted to Carmania turned out to be the better of the two. Caronia's quadruple expansion was proven and thus guaranteed technology, but it lacked in performance. (Titanic and her sisters used two triple expansion engines which exhausted into a low pressure steam turbine, a more economical engine layout. I detail it here: )

    Construction had commenced in 1902 before the final engine configuration was chosen. Construction started on the bow (front) of the ship first and progressed to the stern (back). Eventually, the ship was fitted with 4 large propellors. Lusitania would be the first passenger ship to be fitted with 4 propellors, the first 4 funneled liner, the first ship to have 6 decks of passenger accommodation (hence the nickname iron mountain), and the first over 700 feet in length. There are more records which I will not cover today. Lusitania, was a highly impressive ship.

    Lusitania began her maiden voyage on September 7, 1907 and captured the coveted Blue Riband, awarded to the fastest passenger ship in the world. She, and her sister Mauretania would hold the honor for the next two decades.

    100 years ago today:

    All the News That's Fit to Print.

    MAY 2ND, 1915
    Lusitania Off with Her Passenger List of 1,388 Undiminished.
    (New York Times)


    It was beginning to became clear that there was no end to the so called European War which many presumed would be over by now. The "Schlieffen Plan" plan had failed to capture Paris, forcing France out of the war. Instead, the Germans were now forced to contend with the combined Franco-British armies on the Western Front, and the Russian army on the Eastern flank.

    Meanwhile, on the high seas, the British Empire had decided to break with the Cruiser Rules, which dictated "gentlemanly" behavior between merchant and warships in times of war.

    Specifically, warships were required to warn hostile merchant vessels and allow time for passengers and crew to vacate the ship or boat before sinking it.

    This could easily be taken advantage of. Not too long after hostilities began, the British Admiralty secretly ordered all merchant vehicles to ram or kill hostiles. The Germans responded in kind. The North Atlantic would soon become a total war zone...

    It's so easy to forget that despite what we hear about the period, people lived. The Lusitania was booked with people just trying to continue on with their normal lives.


    The Voyage Begins!


    New York City’s Pier 54, May 1st, 1915.

    It was a sunny, spring day. Slightly breezy. The ‘iron mountain’ as she was sometimes referred to, the 787 foot long RMS Lusitania, was being eased out of her berth at New York. Of the great Edwardian ocean liners, the Lusitania would be the only one to be kept in service as a transatlantic liner in this early stage of the war. Her revolutionary speed allowed her to avoid German U-Boats (submarines). And even though her top speed was decreased due to costs and coal rationing, she was still fast. The Lusitania was safe. The Germans could not afford to sink such a celebrated ship with so many Americans onboard.


    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 travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.

    Washington, D.C., April 22, 1915.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 7, 2015
    Solar likes this.
  2. Solar

    Solar Guild Social

  3. Donna

    Donna Raider

    Guys he is referring to a major event in WW1.
  4. earthwormjim

    earthwormjim Not GM

    Did they call it WWI when it started? It's almost as if they knew WWII would happen!
  5. rent

    rent Guild Master

    Interesting: for purposes of the timeline, I'm referring to WWI as the European War, or the War in Europe since we're still early on in the war, no American involvement yet. However, terms adopted later on in the war were Great War, The War to End All War, World War, and yes, even World War One. On calling it World War One before World War Two occurred:

    Great War can also refer to an earlier struggle in European history against Napoleon.
    Canibehealz likes this.
  6. rent

    rent Guild Master

    Today, we explore the reactions the passengers had to the German warning posted a week ago.
  7. earthwormjim

    earthwormjim Not GM

    Spoiler, Lusitania was sunk by a German u-boat.
  8. Tinderhoof

    Tinderhoof Guild Social

    *Spoiler* US False Flag operation!
  9. Omniwrath

    Omniwrath Guild Social

    Motivational tissue box.

  10. rent

    rent Guild Master

    Today is the 100th centenary of the sinking of RMS Lusitania. If you're logged in, you've obtained the new Feat of Strength: 18 Minutes of Terror! Available only on May 7th, 2015.

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