The largest and last of the would-be trio of ships that would serve as the flagships of the White Star Line's North Atlanic passenger service route, the RMS Britannic never saw service.
The Britannic (Originally named "Gigantic") was launched on February 26th 1914 and White Star announced she would commence service between Southampton and New York in the spring of 1915. However with the outbreak of World War I she was requisitioned by the admiralty and officially completed as a hospital ship, beginning service On December 12th 1915 ready for war service, she arrived in Liverpool under heavy armed escort. She had been completed with 2034 berths and 1035 cots for casualties, and a medical staff of 52 officers, 101 nurses, 336 orderlies, and a crew of 675 men and women. The ship was under the command of Captain Charles A. Bartlett.
Bartlett was a White Star Line captain who was well like by passengers, but not by the company management for his excessive concern for safety over speed.
The Britannic would only make 4 completed voyages, she was blown up by a mine on November 21, 1916 while traveling thourgh the Kea Channel in the Aegean Sea on the fifth.
At around 8:00 AM a massive explosion occured at the watertight bulkhead between holds 2 and 3, and the bulkhead separating holds 2 and 1 were also damaged. At the same time, boiler rooms 5 and 6 began taking water. Bartlett desperatly tried to beach the Britannic on Kea Island, but failed with the ship sinking in 55 minutes.
The Britannic lost 30 people died from over 1100 on board, most of which died when lifeboats were launched too early and were sucked into the screws. Interestingly, the ship sunk in only 350 feet of water...so shallow that she hit the bottom before she was finished sinking. In 1976 Jacques Cousteau discovered this when her bow was bent up by the sheer force of the ship pushing down on the bow, as well as the massive hole on her side. She is the largest liner on the ocean floor.
Interestingly the White Star Line recommissioned the name for another, much smaller vessel in the 1930s near the end and subsequent merge with her archrival the Cunard Line. That ship was scrapped in the post-war years of World War II.
* His/Her Majesty's Hospital Ship
Lynch, Don. Titanic: An Illustrated History