William Turner, who had commanded the ship during her first years at sea, replaced Lusitania’s regular captain, Daniel Dow, in April of 1915. Dow was suffering from nervous exhaustion due to the constant threat of U-boat attacks.
With 1959 passengers on board, and a cargo manifest that has not been made public to this day, the Lusitania left New York and headed for her home port of Liverpool on May 1, 1915. She would get there by sailing through the waters surrounding Britain and Ireland.
Because she was designated a British Navy Reserve ship, the Lusitania was considered a potential threat by German U-boats. But there was something else that put the Lusitania at risk during her last voyage. It was widely speculated at the time that America - although neutral in the war - was supplying Great Britain with supplies and war material.
Was the Lusitania loaded with munitions, as well as passengers? In answering that question, Walther Schwieger (commander of SM U-20) decided to "shoot first and ask questions later."