Lusitania arriving in port
|Port of registry:|
|Route:||Liverpool to |
|Laid down:||17 August 1904|
|Launched:||7 June 1906|
|Acquired:||26 August 1907|
|Maiden voyage:||7 September 1907|
|Status:||Partially collapsed wreck|
|Displacement:||44,060 long tons (44,767.0 t)|
|Beam:||87 ft (26.5 m)|
|Height:||60 ft (18.3 m) to boat deck, 165 ft (50.3 m) to aerials|
|Draught:||33.6 ft (10.2 m)|
|Decks:||9 passenger decks|
|Installed power:||25 |
|Propulsion:||Four triple blade propellers. (Quadruple blade propellers installed in 1909).|
|Capacity:||552 first class, 460 second class, 1,186 third class. 2,198 total.|
|Notes:||First ship of Cunard's four-funnelled grand trio, along with |
RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner that
Lusitania held the
German shipping lines were aggressive competitors for the custom of transatlantic passengers in the early 20th century, and Cunard responded by trying to outdo them in speed, capacity, and luxury. Cunard used assistance from the British Admiralty to build Lusitania, on the understanding that the ship would be available as a light merchant cruiser in time of war. She had gun mounts for deck cannons, but no guns were ever installed.
Both Lusitania and Mauretania were fitted with revolutionary new turbine engines that enabled them to maintain a service speed of 25
The Royal Navy had
On the afternoon of 7 May, a German U-boat torpedoed Lusitania 11 miles (18 km) off the southern coast of Ireland inside the declared war zone. A second internal explosion sank her in 18 minutes, killing 1,198 passengers and crew.
The Germans justified treating Lusitania as a naval vessel because she was carrying hundreds of tons of war munitions, making her a legitimate military target, and they argued that British merchant ships had violated the
However, the ship was not armed for battle and was carrying thousands of civilian passengers, and the British government accused the Germans of breaching the cruiser rules. The sinking caused a storm of protest in the United States because 128 American citizens were among the dead. The sinking shifted public opinion in the United States against Germany and was one of the factors in the declaration of war nearly two years later. After the First World War, successive British governments maintained that there were no munitions on board Lusitania, and the Germans were not justified in treating the ship as a naval vessel. In 1982, the head of the British Foreign Office's American department finally admitted that there is a large amount of ammunition in the wreck, some of which is highly dangerous and poses a safety risk to salvage teams.
American millionaire businessman
Cunard established a committee to decide upon the design for the new ships, of which James Bain, Cunard's Marine Superintendent was the chairman. Other members included Rear Admiral H. J. Oram, who had been involved in designs for
Parsons maintained that he could design engines capable of maintaining a speed of 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph), which would require 68,000
The ship was designed by
Peskett had built a large model of the proposed ship in 1902 showing a three-funnel design. A fourth funnel was implemented into the design in 1904 as it was necessary to vent the exhaust from additional boilers fitted after steam turbines had been settled on as the power plant. The original plan called for three propellers, but this was altered to four because it was felt the necessary power could not be transmitted through just three. Four turbines would drive four separate propellers, with additional reversing turbines to drive the two inboard shafts only. To improve efficiency, the two inboard propellers rotated inward, while those outboard rotated outward. The outboard turbines operated at high pressure; the exhaust steam then passing to those inboard at relatively low pressure.
The propellers were driven directly by the turbines, for sufficiently robust gearboxes had not yet been developed, and became available in only 1916. Instead, the turbines had to be designed to run at a much lower speed than those normally accepted as being optimum. Thus, the efficiency of the turbines installed was less at low speeds than a conventional reciprocating (piston-in-cylinder) steam engine, but significantly better when the engines were run at high speed, as was usually the case for an express liner. The ship was fitted with 23 double-ended and two single-ended boilers (which fitted the forward space where the ship narrowed), operating at a maximum 195 psi and containing 192 individual furnaces.
Work to refine the hull shape was conducted in the
Coal bunkers were placed along the length of the ship outboard of the boiler rooms, with a large transverse bunker immediately in front of that most forward (number 1) boiler room. Apart from convenience ready for use, the coal was considered to provide added protection for the central spaces against attack. At the very front were the chain lockers for the huge anchor chains and ballast tanks to adjust the ship's trim.
The hull space was divided into twelve watertight compartments, any two of which could be flooded without risk of the ship sinking, connected by 35 hydraulically operated watertight doors. A critical flaw in the arrangement of the watertight compartments was that sliding doors to the coal bunkers needed to be open to provide a constant feed of coal whilst the ship was operating, and closing these in emergency conditions could be problematic. The ship had a double bottom with the space between divided into separate watertight cells. The ship's exceptional height was due to the six decks of passenger accommodation above the waterline, compared to the customary four decks in existing liners.
High tensile steel was used for the ship's plating, as opposed to the more conventional mild steel. This allowed a reduction in plate thickness, reducing weight but still providing 26 per cent greater strength than otherwise. Plates were held together by triple rows of rivets. The ship was heated and cooled throughout by a thermo-tank ventilation system, which used steam driven heat exchangers to warm air to a constant 65 °F (18.3 °C), while steam was injected into the airflow to maintain steady humidity.
Forty-nine separate units driven by electric fans provided seven complete changes of air per hour throughout the ship, through an interconnected system, so that individual units could be switched off for maintenance. A separate system of exhaust fans removed air from galleys and bathrooms. As built, the ship conformed fully with
At the time of her completion Lusitania was briefly the largest ship ever built, but was eclipsed in this respect by the slightly larger Mauretania which entered service shortly thereafter. She was 70 feet (21 m) longer, a full 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) faster, and had a capacity of 10,000 gross tons over and above that of the most modern German liner,
At the time of their introduction onto the North Atlantic, both Lusitania and Mauretania possessed among the most luxurious, spacious and comfortable interiors afloat. The
The ship's passenger accommodation was spread across six decks; from the top deck down to the waterline they were Boat Deck (A Deck), the Promenade Deck (B Deck), the Shelter Deck (C Deck), the Upper Deck (D Deck), the Main Deck (E Deck) and the Lower Deck (F Deck), with each of the three passenger classes being allotted their own space on the ship. As seen aboard all passenger liners of the era, first-, second- and third-class passengers were strictly segregated from one another. According to her original configuration in 1907, she was designed to carry 2,198 passengers and 827 crew members. The Cunard Line prided itself with a record for passenger satisfaction.
Lusitania's first-class accommodation was in the centre section of the ship on the five uppermost decks, mostly concentrated between the first and fourth funnels. When fully booked, Lusitania could cater to 552 first-class passengers. In common with all major liners of the period, Lusitania's first-class interiors were decorated with a mélange of historical styles. The first-class dining saloon was the grandest of the ship's public rooms; arranged over two decks with an open circular well at its centre and crowned by an elaborate dome measuring 29 feet (8.8 m), decorated with frescos in the style of
All other first-class public rooms were situated on the boat deck and comprised a lounge, reading and writing room, smoking room and veranda café. The last was an innovation on a Cunard liner and, in warm weather, one side of the café could be opened up to give the impression of sitting outdoors. This would have been a rarely used feature given the often inclement weather of the North Atlantic.
The first-class lounge was decorated in
Each end of the lounge had a 14-foot (4.3 m) high green marble fireplace incorporating enamelled panels by
Lusitania's second-class accommodation was confined to the stern, behind the aft mast, where quarters for 460 second-class passengers were located. The second-class public rooms were situated on partitioned sections of boat and promenade decks housed in a separate section of the superstructure aft of the first-class passenger quarters. Design work was deputised to Robert Whyte, who was the architect employed by John Brown. Although smaller and plainer, the design of the dining room reflected that of first class, with just one floor of diners under a ceiling with a smaller dome and balcony. Walls were panelled and carved with decorated pillars, all in white. As seen in first class, the dining room was situated lower down in the ship on the saloon deck. The smoking and ladies' rooms occupied the accommodation space of the second-class promenade deck, with the lounge on the boat deck.
Cunard had not previously provided a separate lounge for second class; the 42-foot (13 m) room had mahogany tables, chairs and settees set on a rose carpet. The smoking room was 52 feet (16 m) with mahogany panelling, white plasterwork ceiling and dome. One wall had a mosaic of a river scene in Brittany, while the sliding windows were blue tinted. Second-class passengers were allotted shared, yet comfortable two and four berth cabins arranged on the shelter, upper and main decks.
Noted as being the prime breadwinner for trans-Atlantic shipping lines, third class aboard Lusitania was praised for the improvement in travel conditions it provided to emigrant passengers, and Lusitania proved to be a quite popular ship for immigrants. In the days before Lusitania and even still during the years in which Lusitania was in service, third-class accommodation consisted of large open spaces where hundreds of people would share open berths and hastily constructed public spaces, often consisting of no more than a small portion of open deck space and a few tables constructed within their sleeping quarters. In an attempt to break that mould, the Cunard Line began designing ships such as Lusitania with more comfortable third-class accommodation.
As on all Cunard passenger liners, third-class accommodation aboard Lusitania was located at the forward end of the ship on the shelter, upper, main and lower decks, and in comparison to other ships of the period, it was comfortable and spacious. The 79-foot (24 m) dining room was at the bow of the ship on the saloon deck, finished in polished pine as were the other two third-class public rooms, being the smoke room and ladies room on the shelter deck.
When Lusitania was fully booked in third class, the smoking and ladies room could easily be converted into overflow dining rooms for added convenience. Meals were eaten at long tables with swivel chairs and there were two sittings for meals. A piano was provided for passenger use. What greatly appealed to immigrants and lower class travelers was that instead of being confined to open berth dormitories, aboard Lusitania was a honeycomb of two, four, six and eight berth cabins allotted to third-class passengers on the main and lower decks.
The shipyard at John Brown had to be reorganised because of her size so that she could be launched diagonally across the widest available part of the river Clyde where it met a tributary, the ordinary width of the river being only 610 feet (190 m) compared to the 786-foot (240 m) long ship. The new slipway took up the space of two existing ones and was built on reinforcing piles driven deeply into the ground to ensure it could take the temporary concentrated weight of the whole ship as it slid into the water. In addition the company spent £8,000 to dredge the Clyde, £6,500 on new gas plant, £6,500 on a new electrical plant, £18,000 to extend the dock and £19,000 for a new crane capable of lifting 150 tons as well as £20,000 on additional machinery and equipment. Construction commenced at the bow working backwards, rather than the traditional approach of building both ends towards the middle. This was because designs for the stern and engine layout were not finalised when construction commenced. Railway tracks were laid alongside the ship and across deck plating to bring materials as required. The hull, completed to the level of the main deck but not fitted with equipment weighed approximately 16,000 tons.
The ship's stockless bower anchors weighed 101⁄4 tons, attached to 125 ton, 330 fathom chains all manufactured by
The ship was launched on 7 June 1906, eight weeks later than planned due to labour strikes and eight months after Lord Inverclyde's death.
Testing of the ship's engines took place in June 1907 prior to full trials scheduled for July. A preliminary cruise, or Builder's Trial, was arranged for 27 July with representatives of Cunard, the Admiralty, the Board of Trade, and John Brown aboard. The ship achieved speeds of 25.6 knots (47.4 km/h; 29.5 mph) over a measured 1 mile (1.6 km) at
The vibration was determined to be caused by interference between the wake of the outer propellers and inner and became worse when turning. At high speeds the vibration frequency
Due to their increased size the Olympic-class liners could offer many more amenities than Lusitania and Mauretania. Both Olympic and Titanic offered swimming pools,
Heavy vibrations as a by-product of the four
The vessels of the Olympic class also differed from Lusitania and Mauretania in the way in which they were compartmented below the waterline. The White Star vessels were divided by transverse watertight
Lusitania did not carry enough lifeboats for all her passengers, officers and crew on board at the time of her maiden voyage (carrying four lifeboats fewer than Titanic would carry in 1912). This was a common practice for large passenger ships at the time, since the belief was that in busy shipping lanes help would always be nearby and the few boats available would be adequate to ferry all aboard to rescue ships before a sinking. After the Titanic sank, Lusitania and Mauretania were equipped with an additional six
This contrasted with Olympic and