Travellers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.
Imperial German Embassy
Washington, D.C. 22 April 1915
While many British passenger ships had been called into duty for the war effort, RMS Lusitania (1906) remained on her traditional route, ferrying passengers between Liverpool and New York City. She departed Pier 54 in New York on 1 May, 1915 on her return trip to Liverpool with 1,959 people aboard.
As the liner steamed across the ocean, the British Admiralty had been tracking the movements of U-20, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger, through wireless intercepts and radio direction finding. The submarine left Borkum on 30 April, heading north west across the North Sea. On 2 May she had reached Peterhead and proceeded around the north of Scotland and Ireland, and then along the western and southern coasts of Ireland, to enter the Irish Sea from the south.
At 22:30 on 5 May, the Royal Navy sent an uncoded warning to all ships warning of sub activity in the area. At midnight, an addition was made to the regular nightly warnings, “Submarine off Fastnet”. Captain Turner of Lusitania was given a warning message twice on the evening of 6 May, and took what he felt were prudent precautions. He closed watertight doors, posted double lookouts, ordered a black-out, and had the lifeboats swung out on their davits so that they could be launched quickly if necessary.
U-20 was low on fuel and had only three torpedoes left. On the morning of 7 May visibility was poor and Schwieger decided to head for home. Lusitania had reached a point 120 miles (190 km) west south west of Fastnet Rock (off the southern tip of Ireland). By 06:00, heavy fog had arrived and extra lookouts were posted. U-20 surfaced again at 12:45; conditions were sunny and clear. The captain was summoned to the conning tower and shown what appeared to be a large steamer on the horizon.
At 13:25 the submarine submerged to periscope depth of 11 metres and set a course to intercept the liner at her maximum submerged speed of 9 knots. When the ships had closed to 2 miles (3.2 km) Lusitania turned onto a near ideal course to bring her into position for an attack. At 14:10 with the target at 700m range, the sub’s captain ordered torpedoes away. The U-20’s torpedo officer, Raimund Weisbach, viewed the destruction through the vessel’s periscope and felt the explosion was unusually severe. Within six minutes, Lusitania’s forecastle began to submerge.
Absolute pandemonium erupted on deck. Walther Schwieger, captain of the U-20, watched through the periscope for about fifteen minutes before ordering it be lowered and heading back out to sea. Keep Reading
The sinking helped shift public opinion in the United States against Germany, and was a factor in the United States’ declaration of war nearly two years later. +
This Week in History: The USA Enters World War One
BBC World Service – It was on April 6th 1917 that America declared war on Germany, tipping the balance in favour of Britain and France and their Allies.
In 1976, Don Rickles starred in an American situation comedy named CPO Sharkey, (as US Navy Chief Petty Officer Otto Sharkey,) an abrasive, sharp-tongued veteran in charge of a company of new recruits on a San Diego naval base. Rickles (who in real-life served in the Navy during World War II*) is famous for his jokes about various ethnicities, and the program provided him with a vehicle for his politically incorrect humor. Sharkey, however, was really a nice guy beneath his harsh exterior and often went to extreme measures to help his recruits with their problems. more
*After graduating from Newtown High School, Rickles enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II on the motor torpedo boat tender USS Cyrene (AGP-13) as a seaman first class. He was honorably discharged in 1946. wikipedia
Starting Sunday 9 April, 2017, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice present “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”, a new project by British artist Damien Hirst that will run across both venues. (Palazzo Grassi website)
The show is widely seen as Mr. Hirst’s attempt, at 51, to (revitalize) his career, which has suffered since 2008 when both the financial and art markets crashed. Tapping into the age-old romance of shipwrecks, he and his patron are embarking on a giant artistic and financial gamble. “Treasures” cost Mr. Hirst millions of dollars to produce.
Called “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” it is an underwater fantasy, with hundreds of objects fashioned to look as though they were antiquities dredged up from the bottom of the sea. Keep reading
In the early 1900’s, boats in this small French fishing village were constantly getting stranded on the beach. Instead of going to waste, the impoverished fishermen transformed these boats into roofs for low cost, makeshift houses. It was known as the Quartier des Quilles en l’Air; the neighbourhood of “keels in the air”. full story
One commenter asked, “Whoa! What did the inclinometer read I wonder?“
Jim Taylor: “Clinometer broke when the coffee mug hit it“
Visible in the distance is Spring Point Ledge Light; a sparkplug lighthouse in South Portland, Maine that marks a dangerous obstruction on the west side of the main shipping channel into Portland Harbor. The lighthouse was constructed by the government in 1897 after seven steamship companies stated that many of their vessels had run aground on the ledge. The total cost of the tower ended up being $45,000 due to problems with storms and poor quality cement. It was electrified in 1934, and in 1951, a 900-foot breakwater made from 50,000 short tons (45,000 t) of granite was constructed in order to connect the lighthouse to the mainland. More Photos
The Portuguese explorer Estêvão Gomes mapped the Maine coast in 1525 and named the bay “Bahía de Cascos.” Casco Bay is also home to abandoned military fortifications dating from the War of 1812 through World War II. During World War II, Casco Bay served as an anchorage for US Navy ships. Since Casco Bay was the nearest American anchorage to the Atlantic Lend-Lease convoy routes to Britain prior to US entry into World War II, Admiral King ordered a large pool of destroyers to be stationed there for convoy escort duty in August 1941.
Walter Cronkite stated that, in his opinion, the bay offered some of the best sailing in the world. (source)