She was RMS Titanic’s sister ship. She also was a hospital ship during World War One. And like her more famous sister, she ended up below the waves.
Britannic sank Nov. 21, 1916. Let’s take a look at the lost liner.
- Operated by White Star Line, Britannic was launched in February 1914, six months before World War One started.
- It was larger than Titanic, the short-lived titleholder of the world’s largest ocean liner.
- Safety changes were made to Britannic’s design after Titanic sank.
- Despite the fact it was built as a liner, it never carried passengers.
- It was converted into a hospital ship in 1915. It had 3,300 beds.
- It transported the wounded and sick to Britain.
- It served during the Dardanelles campaign and in the Middle Eastern theatre before being released from service. The ship was then recalled. It sank on its third voyage after being recalled.
On the morning of Nov. 21, 1916, Britannic was off the Greek island of Kea when it hit a mine or was perhaps hit by a torpedo. Most of the staff was at breakfast and they immediately ran for their posts.
Despite safety changes made during building, the explosion or a technical glitch caused the water tight doors to remain open, and the water tight compartments quickly filled with water. It didn’t help matters that many of the portholes were open, allowing more water to enter the ship.
Staff began an evacuation, but it was halted. The captain had decided to try and beach the ship. He was unsuccessful.
Two lifeboats were lowered, as the crew was unaware the evacuation had been halted, and the boats and their occupants were torn apart by the propellers. A third life boat nearly had the same gruesome end, but the ship’s engines were stopped in time.
The order was then given to abandon ship.
Britannic rolled onto her starboard side and sank less than an hour after the explosion, the largest British merchant ship lost during the war.
Miraculously, only 30 people lost their lives. As Britannic was on her way to pick up casualties, no patients were aboard.
Jacques Cousteau found the wreckage in 1975. Sunk in water shallower than Titanic, the ship has deteriorated much more than its sister.
Was the decision to beach the ship its ultimate downfall? Leave a comment below.
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