10 fascinating facts about the ill-fated ocean liner, the RMS Lusitania - The Guide Liverpool

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10 fascinating facts about the ill-fated ocean liner, the RMS Lusitania


The Lusitania Propeller is one of the city’s most striking and visible memorials to World War One.

Standing dramatically on the Pier head, it was one of four from the Liverpool-based passenger liner torpedoed by the German submarine U-20 on May 7, 1915, as she sailed between Liverpool and New York.

It commemorates one of the most horrific incidents at sea during the war, and a legacy of links with the city, but did you know these fascinating facts … ?

1.The RMS Lusitania – and her partner Mauretania – were ordered by Cunard to restore British superiority over German ships in the Atlantic passenger trade. Both came into service from Liverpool in 1907, the year of the port’s 700th anniversary celebrations. 

When they were first launched, they were the largest and fastest ships in the world.

2.Around 200,000 people lined the banks of the Mersey to watch Lusitania’s maiden voyage to New York. She soon won back from Germany the ‘Blue Riband’ for the fastest Atlantic crossing.

3.The Lusitania (and the Mauretania which proved to be the faster of the two) provided a weekly service from Liverpool to New York.

4.When the Lusitania sailed from New York on May 1, 1915, it had 1962 people on board. She was torpedoed six days later at 2.10pm near Kinsale in southern Ireland, and sank in less than 20 minutes with the loss of around 1191 lives.

5.The sinking of an unarmed vessel caused outrage, and there were riots in Liverpool, London, and other cities around the world. The German government claimed that Lusitania was a legitimate target due to the war supplies she was carrying – as were many other British ships.

But British and American inquiries later declared the sinking unlawful.

6.Among those most devastated were the dockland communities in north Liverpool, where most of Lusitania’s crew lived. 405 crew members died, including many Liverpool Irish seamen.

7.The Lusitania was 790ft (241 metres) long.

8.Its sinking was thought to have influenced America’s decision to enter WWI.

9.The 23-ton propellors rotated at three times a second and drove the vessel across the Atlantic at more than 26 knots (about 30 mph). The four-bladed propellors were fitted in 1909 as replacements for the original three-bladed propellors as they gave almost an extra knot of speed.

10.The propellor on the Pier Head – situated close to the Merseyside Maritime Museum where there’s a collection devoted to ‘Lusitania: life, loss, legacy’ – has a cast iron steel cone. The blades show signs of wear from service and from years on the ocean bed. It was one of three salvaged from the wreck in 1982.

You can learn more about the Lusitania at the Maritime Museum at the Royal Albert Dock. Check out the website here for info.

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