The Britannic was considered one of three Olympic-class ocean liners constructed by the Harland and Wolff shipyard for the White Star Line in the course of the early twentieth century.
The development of the Olympic-class was in response to the extraordinary competitors with Norddeutscher Lloyd, the Hamburg America Line, and their essential competitor, Cunard, which had not too long ago launched the Lusitania and Mauretania.
On the time, ocean liners have been competing to carry the Blue Riband, an unofficial accolade given to passenger liners with the very best common pace when crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
Building started on the primary of the brand new line in 1908 with the Olympic. The Olympic was the lead ship of the trio with a size of 269.1 metres and a displacement of 52,067 tons. Shortly after, development started on the Titanic in 1909 in parallel with the Olympic.
The Britannic was the third and closing vessel within the Olympic class and the second White Star ship to bear the title Britannic. The unique dimensions of the ship have been just like these of her sister ships, however these have been altered whereas nonetheless on the constructing shares as a result of security issues.
The Britannic had a size of 269.1 metres and a displacement of 53,200 tons. In response to the Titanic catastrophe, she was fitted with a double hull, elevating of six out of the fifteen watertight bulkheads as much as B Deck, and enhancements to the compartments that meant the ship may nonetheless keep afloat if the six compartments have been flooded.
Further lifeboats could possibly be saved close to the davits on the roof of the deckhouse, whereas the design enhancements meant that every one lifeboats could possibly be launched even within the occasion of the ship itemizing.
Britannic’s keel was laid in 1911 on the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast on the gantry slip that was beforehand occupied by the Olympic. Earlier than she may begin her transatlantic service between New York and Southampton, hostilities broke out in Europe with the beginning of WW1 in 1914.
The ship remained at dock till the Admiralty despatched a requisition order for the Britannic to be transformed right into a hospital ship. She was fitted with 3,309 hospital beds, whereas the first-class reception room on D Deck was remodeled into working rooms. On the outside hull, massive purple crosses and a horizontal inexperienced stripe have been painted to make obvious that the ship was protected below the 1906 Geneva Conference.
The Britannic was renamed to the HMHS (Her Majesties Hospital Ship) Britannic and was manned by a complement of 101 nurses, 336 non-commissioned officers, 52 commissioned officers, in addition to a regular crew of 675 individuals.
After finishing a sequence of profitable missions transporting injured troops, the HMHS Britannic returned to Belfast to be transformed again to a passenger liner, with the British authorities paying the White Star Line £75,000 in compensation.
A number of months later, the conversion was halted as the need of the battle effort required that the Britannic return again into army service (as soon as once more taking the title, HMHS Britannic).
She was despatched to the Center Jap theatre to move sick and wounded troopers, however whereas steaming by way of the Kea Channel within the Aegean Sea on the 21st October, 1916, she struck a mine laid by the German SM U-73 submarine of the Imperial German Navy.
The explosion brought about 4 watertight compartments to fill with water and began to flood the principle boiler room. The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Bartlett, issued a misery sign and ordered the crew to seal the watertight doorways and put together the lifeboats.
Unbeknownst to them, the explosion had broken the antenna wires, which means that their SOS could possibly be transmitted, nevertheless, any responding messages from close by ship couldn’t be obtained.
Regardless of the HMHS Britannic being designed to remain afloat if her first six watertight compartments have been flooded, nurses had opened the portholes alongside the entrance decrease decks that flooded the ship’s inside, inflicting the angle of record to extend.
Hoping to avoid wasting the ship, Captain Bartlett gave the order to navigate in the direction of the Greek island of Kea within the hope of beaching the vessel. As a precaution, the crew and hospital employees started preparations to evacuate and began decreasing the primary boats into the water with out ready for orders from the bridge. Two of the boats have been sucked into the ship’s propeller, mincing the boats and their passengers.
As soon as the flooding reached D-deck, Captain Bartlett realized that the HMHS Britannic was doomed and sounded two lengthy blasts of his whistle, the sign to desert ship.
With most individuals evacuated, the ship steadily capsized to starboard and the funnels collapsed one after the opposite. By the point the strict was out of the water, the bow had already slammed into the seabed, earlier than lastly slipping beneath the waves 55 minutes after she struck the mine.
Violet Jessop, an ocean liner stewardess who survived the RMS Titanic catastrophe, in addition to working as a nurse on the HMHS Britannic, remembers: “She dipped her head a bit of, then a bit of decrease and nonetheless decrease. All of the deck equipment fell into the ocean like a baby’s toys. Then she took a fearful plunge, her stern rearing a whole lot of toes into the air till with a closing roar, she disappeared into the depths, the noise of her going resounding by way of the water with undreamt-of violence….”
In complete, 30 individuals misplaced their lives from the 1,066 onboard, with the HMHS Britannic turning into the biggest vessel misplaced throughout WW1. The White Star Line was compensated for the lack of the ship by the award of SS Bismarck as a part of postwar reparations.
The HMHS Britannic would stay undisturbed till she was rediscovered at a depth of 122 metres by Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1975.
Header Picture : Britannic – Picture Credit score : Frederic Logghe – CC BY-SA 3.0