RMS Lusitania, queen of the seas
In the early part of the twentieth century, the only way to traverse the Atlantic was by ocean liner. It was a time of fierce competition between rival lines–with passengers expecting not only a speedy crossing, but luxurious accommodations as well. In 1903 the Cunard Line led by Lord Inverclyde began construction on two fast and luxurious liners to challenge the German vessels that had held the ‘Blue Riband’ since 1897. The resulting sisterships RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania would be a firm reassertion of British supremacy at sea.
Launched at the River Clyde in June 16, 1906, RMS Lusitania was a grand ship and the first of the two sisterships to be launched. At 785 feet in length and 31,550 gross tons, she took the title of largest liner afloat. Her maiden voyage took place September 7, 1907, and in October 1907 she recaptured the coveted ‘Blue Riband’ from the German liner Deutschland.
The construction of Lusitania was financed by generous loans from the British government. In return for the generous loans, the Admiralty could requisition Lusitania or her sister in times of war. At the onset of World War I in August 1914, Lusitania, Mauretania and the newer companion ship Aquitania were all officially requisitioned for war duties. All but Lusitania were given official orders, so Lusitania continued her regular transatlantic passenger services.
On the May 1, 1915 Lusitania left New York for the final time. On May 7 with the coast of Ireland in sight, German U-boat, U-20 commander Kptlt. Walther Schwieger, torpedoed Lusitania. She sank in 18 short minutes taking 1195 lives - 123 of them American. Although America did not immediately declare war on Germany, that would occur in April 1917, her sinking contributed to the mood that turned the tide of American public opinion against Germany and led the United States to join the Allied cause in World War I. 

Image Country Year Description
United States Lusitania Torpedoed May 7th 1915-1934, New York NY, 7 May, 1934
Marshall Is. 1997 Submarine warfare extends the reach of war.1915 Torpedoing of Lusitania
Madagascar 1998 1915 German U-Boat U-20 torpedoing British ocean liner RMS Lusitania
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