According to A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, the Lusitania was carrying the following from the US to Britain:
  1. 1,248 cases of 3-inch shells
  2. 4,927 boxes of cartriges (1000 rounds per box)
  3. 2,000 cases of small-arms ammunition.
Zinn says that the manifests were falsified to hide this information, and that both the US and the UK lied about it. He does not say from where he got the above numbers, although a quick scan of his bibliography suggests his source was Lusitania, by Colin Simpson.

The sinking of the Lusitania was significant, because it provided a good reason for the United States to enter World War I.

"Lusitania" is also an ancient Roman name for Portugal.

The planet on which the pequeninos were discovered in Orson Scott Card's novel Speaker for the Dead, the sequel to Ender's Game. Also home to the descolada, the hive queen, and Ender and Valentine Wiggin

The Lusitania was built as the 1st of a 3-ship service along the North Atlantic passenger service as British competition to the new fleet of German ships that were beginning to have a dominating presence trade. The brainchild of the Cunard Line's chairman, Lord Inverclyde. He approached the British government to finance the plan with the idea of easy conversion into auxilary cruisers which appealed to the Parliament.

The Lusitania and her sister, the Mauritania were designed by the naval architect Lenoard Peskett as the ultimate ships. The Lusitania was built by Cunard's long time shipbuilder's, John Brown & Company and launched on June 6, 1914 by the widow of Lord Inverclyde. With a crowd of more than 20,000 watching the festivities. Everyone expected Britain's new queen of the seas to be perfect. She wasn't.

During sea trials a fatal flaw was found. The stern vibrated at high speed to the point where it became effectively unusable. So the entire section that consisted of 142 2nd class cabins was gutted and bolted down, delaying everything by 1 month, but it had to be done. Finally on September 7, 1907 the Lusitania embarked on her maiden voyage.

Although she did not win the Blue Riband as Cunard hoped she would on that voyage, she was able to achive it the following month and held it until it was taken by her sister ship, the Mauritania in 1910. From then on till the outbreak of the Great War the Lusitania and Mauritania were a dominanting pair of ships, both in elegance and in speed.

When World War I came in August 1914 the Lusitania continued to serve as a commerical liner with the mindset that she was too fast, and too swift for any German U-Boat to sink her. That mentality ended on May 1, 1915. Nearing the end of voyage she was sailing near the Old Head of Kinsale, against military orders to keep away from shore.

At around 1:20 PM the U-20 spotted the Lusitania and fired a torpedo. There might have been a chance it was avoided, but the warnings from the crow's nest were dissmissed. As the torpedo hit it kicked up the coal dust and caused a huge explosion that caused the ship to list rapidly to starboard. In less than 18 minutes the Lusitania had sunk to the bottom of the English Channel literally pushed down by her still functioning turbines. She took down 1,195 passengers with 764 survivors. Amazingly, there were no lifeboat drills held and many passengers reported milling about the upper decks without knowing where to go.

Today the Lusitania is caught in a web of fishing nets due the shallow water it's in, if that's not bad enough, the Admiralty used it as a testing site for depth charges! She has been visited several times by both American and British teams, including one led by Dr. Robert Ballard. The German Imperiator was given to Cunard as compensation for the Lusitania following the end of World War I and renamed the Berengaria.



Ballard, Robert. Exploring the Lusitania. Italy. Warner Books, 1995

The situation surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania is quite extraordinary. Before purchasing tickets, passengers had been warned in the Lusitania's advertisements that by riding on the Lusitania they risked their lives. The following are excerpts from the notice posted along with the Lusitania's adds in American newspapers, which consisted of a notice from the Imperial German Embassy.

"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 notice given by the Imperial German government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travellers sailing in the war-zone on ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk."

Personally, I don't think I’d take my vacation on a ship that posted that notice along with its advertisements. However, Americans, acting as defiant as ever, completely ignored this notice and pushed forth with their vacation. Go figure. That's Americans at their best, exhibiting the typical 'It'll never happen to me' attitude.

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