Lusitania

Published in Issue 1 (January/February 2016), Letters, Volume 24

Sir,—William Kingston’s opening paragraph (HI 23.6, Nov./Dec. 2015, pp 48–9) needs revisiting. There are several current theories about why the Lusitania sank, but most of the mainstream ones agree that she was carrying munitions; that she was hit by one torpedo somewhere forward on the starboard side; and that there was a second explosion after the torpedo hit. The author mentions only the theory that the second explosion was caused by the munitions cargo, which was stored forward of the bridge. An alternative and popular theory is that the torpedo hit somewhere near the front of the first boiler room close to the bridge and that the second explosion was caused by the fracture of the high-pressure steam pipework in the boiler room, which released steam into the atmosphere. The rapid sinking is attributed to a combination of the damage caused by the torpedo, the design of the longitudinal coalbunkers and watertight doors and the loss of steam pressure, which meant that the ship could not be slowed. All electrical power was also lost. The Lusitania wreck is lying on its starboard side, which means that the true position of the torpedo hit is not known at present.—Yours etc.,

DAVID SNOOK

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