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Sunday 21 September 2014

New dive aims to finally solve Lusitania mystery

Published 20/03/2014 | 02:30

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The Lusitania
The Lusitania

A FRESH dive is being planned to finally end the 99-year mystery over the sinking of the World War I liner RMS Lusitania off the Irish coast with the loss of 1,198 lives.

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The wreck's owner, US entrepreneur Greg Bemis, wants to stage a major dive before the Lusitania centenary in 2015 in a bid to resolve the dispute over a second disastrous explosion just minutes after the liner had been hit by a single U-boat torpedo off the Cork coast.

Mr Bemis is now seeking permission from the Government to organise a new dive on the wreck after he expressed dissatisfaction with the conclusions drawn from a 2011 dive.

The wreck lies 16km off the Old Head of Kinsale at a depth of 91m (300ft) and at a 30 degree angle. Because the wreck is deemed a national heritage site, any dives must be authorised by the Government.

"I believe the truth is vital – we need to pursue the truth in all major historical events. I believe in this case we have not got to the truth yet," Mr Bemis said.

The Lusitania, the flagship of the Cunard Line and a rival of the RMS Titanic, was struck by a single torpedo from the German submarine U-20 on May 7, 1915.

However, a second explosion was reported just minutes later and the ship sank in less than 18 minutes having been unable to launch most of its lifeboats.

A 1980s dive suggested the second explosion was caused by coal dust in the bunkers igniting. But Mr Bemis remains convinced that the munitions being carried by the liner were the real culprits.

Irish Independent

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