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Can We Always Trust the Cargo Manifest?

When Lusitania left New York on her 202nd transatlantic crossing, on the 1st of May in 1915, she was sailing as a  British Navy Reserve ship. As such, Germany considered her a potential target for U-boat attacks.

In addition, Germany suspected that America was sending Britain supplies and war materiel, even though the U.S. was still a neutral power at that stage of World War One.

To this day, historians wonder whether Lusitania was carrying munitions, for Britain, during her last crossing. The cargo manifest could shed some light on that inquiry.

After Lusitania sank, the ship’s insurance underwriters released the cargo manifest, which showed she was not carrying the kinds of munitions which would have caused the ship to explode. The question was, and still is, whether Lusitania’s cargo manifest was accurate.

Do you think that we can always trust a ship’s cargo manifest to reveal what cargo the ship is really carrying? Explain your answer.

If the cargo manifest is inaccurate, what consequences should the ship’s owners face?

If a ship like Lusitania is carrying almost 2,000 passengers, how risky would it be to also carry weapons of war?

If Lusitania had been carrying weapons of war, what obligation did the ship owners have to let passengers know about that type of cargo?


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