Friday 31 October 2014

War grave Lusitania gives up its sea-bed secrets

Published 25/08/2011 | 05:00

Divers return from the 'Lusitania' with wreckage
Divers return from the 'Lusitania' with wreckage

THEY ARE the first images of artefacts that have been recovered from the 'Lusitania' -- the world's largest passenger underwater war grave.

The objects -- which include the ship's telemotor, telegraph and two porthole windows -- are now in saltwater tanks in a laboratory in Tralee, Co Kerry, having been recovered on Monday as part of an archeological exhibition in the making of a documentary by 'National Geographic' magazine.

Six divers led by Waterford-based technical diving expert Eoin McGarry completed the dive to the wreck, which lies 100 metres deep on the seabed off the Cork coast, on Monday.

The artefacts were then brought to Tralee, where archaeologists Laurence Dunne, Julianna O'Donoghue and Ian Panter will examine them in greater detail.

The 'Lusitania' was sunk off the Old Head of Kinsale on May 7, 1915, after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat under the command of Captain Lieutenant Walter Swieger.

A second explosion caused the liner to sink in just 18 minutes -- a very rapid sinking, given that the 'Titanic' took over two hours to sink, despite suffering much more serious damage to its hull after striking an iceberg.

The lives of 1,201 passengers and crew were lost in the disaster. There were over 700 survivors. The sinking of the passenger liner, which was finishing its voyage from New York to Liverpool, has always been shrouded in controversy.

The British have always insisted that the ship was hit by a second torpedo, which caused a huge explosion, but the Germans maintained that it was a legitimate target with munitions on board for the war effort. They had warned people in newspaper advertisements not to travel on board the vessel.

Irish Independent

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