The Lusitania was a British ocean-going vessel able to achieve great speeds during her transatlantic crossings.  On the 7th of May, 1915, a German U-Boat (U-20) sank the great ship, killing about 1200 people.  (The last-known survivor died in 2011.)

Americans were greatly angered by this action - approximately 100 of the dead were American citizens - and the sinking of the Lusitania played a role in the country's later decision to enter World War I.

This image - from a WWI-era German postcard created by the German government - depicts the Lusitania at the moment the torpedo struck the ship.  Note, however, that the single torpedo strike is incorrectly placed in this picture.  It actually struck below the waterline - forward of the first funnel, and into the forward cargo hold - on the starboard (not the port) side of the vessel.

Because people heard a second explosion - the ship sank in about eighteen minutes - it was initially unclear whether more than one torpedo had met its mark.  Later, it was concluded that a single torpedo was involved in the death of the vessel and its passengers.

According to the U.S. National Archives - Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library - Lusitania exploded because of an industrial accident:

The cause of the explosion on board the Lusitania has been the subject of study and debate since 1915.  Experts tend to agree now that the explosion was caused by an industrial accident (likely the detonation of coal dust [also responsible for various mine explosions throughout history] or aluminum powder ignited by fire resulting from the torpedo hit), rather than the combustion of explosive munitions on board.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Feb 24, 2020

Media Credits

Vintage German postcard, of the Lusitania, online courtesy Library of Congress.


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Lusitania" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 24, 2020.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips