British Investigation Into the Loss of the Steamship Lusitania
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The RMS Lusitania was a UK-registered ocean liner that was torpedoed by an Imperial German Navy U-boat during the First World War on 7 May 1915, about 11 nautical miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland. The attack took place in the declared maritime war-zone around the UK, shortly after unrestricted submarine warfare against the ships of the United Kingdom had been announced by Germany following the Allied powers' implementation of a naval blockade against it and the other Central Powers. The passengers had been warned before departing New York of the danger of voyaging into the area in a British ship.
Of the 1,962 passengers and crew aboard Lusitania at the time of the sinking, 1,198 lost their lives.
The Cunard liner was attacked by U-20 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger. After the single torpedo struck, a second explosion occurred inside the ship, which then sank in only 18 minutes. The U-20’s mission was to torpedo warships and liners in the Lusitania’s area.
Almost immediately, the crew scrambled to launch the lifeboats but the conditions of the sinking made their usage extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible due to the ship's severe list. In all, only 6 out of 48 lifeboats were launched successfully, with several more overturning and breaking apart.