Titanic’s sister ship that also suffered a tragic fate

Today, more than a century after the sinking of the Titanic, curiosity and interest in the doomed ship continues to intrigue generations. The tragedy, later popularized by the iconic film, was endlessly researched and studied, including the planning and construction of the majestic ship. One of the things that surprise those who venture into the history of the Titanic is that she was just one of three sister ships built by the White Star Line and that one of her brothers would suffer the same fate. : to flow.

In 1907, J. Bruce Ismay, the director of the White Star Line, began the construction of three luxurious, fast and “safe” ships which would be unprecedented for the technology of the time: they were the Olympic , Titanic and Britannic. (although it was said that the original name was going to be the Gigantic). The latter was the last ship to be built, and it was designed to outperform its older sisters in every way imaginable, including safety.


HMHS Britannic

The Britannic was designed to have similar dimensions to her sisters although they were later modified to make her a bit larger. After the Titanic tragedy, modifications were made to ensure the ship would be unsinkable and safe. The most significant addition was that more lifeboats were stored on the ship’s deck to ensure complete evacuation of the ship in the event of an emergency. The Britannic had 48 large lifeboats which provided room for 3,600 people; the ship’s maximum capacity was 3,309.

In February 1914, the White Star Line launched the Britannic with a grand ceremony, a luxurious dinner and grand speeches to the press. They wanted to end the Titanic ghost that still haunted the company and it seemed like it was working. The Britannic’s focus has changed a bit from its older sisters and it now has more room for second class passengers, making it more accessible while retaining its luxurious facilities.


Unfortunately, in the summer of 1914, just before the Britannic was to make its first transatlantic voyage, the First World War broke out. All commercial contracts have been slowed down, including that of the Britannic. At first, small ships were requisitioned by the Admiralty to transport troops or armaments, but barely a year later the Britannic was commissioned. It was converted into a hospital ship and renamed HMHS (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship) Britannic.

All the luxuries and conveniences that the White Star Line had added to the ship were replaced with 3,309 beds, operating rooms, special areas for the injured, quarters for doctors and nurses and excellent accommodation for the injured light. In December 1915, the Britannic set sail from Liverpool to the island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea to rescue wounded soldiers. Her other sister ship, the Olympia, joined her.


In the summer of 1916 the White Star Line was paid £75,000 to restore the Britannic to her original passenger line. He returned to Belfast to begin the ship’s refit. However, after months of hard work and huge financial investments, the ship was recalled to military service.

The tragic end of the Britannic

The Britannic made five voyages between the United Kingdom and the Aegean, saving thousands of soldiers. But his fate was coming to a tragic end. On November 12, 1916, the Britannic and her crew of 1,066 including doctors, nurses and naval personnel set sail on her sixth Mediterranean voyage. Storms and bad weather delayed his schedule. After a few days stranded, the ship kept its course but on the morning of November 21, an explosion shook the Britannic.


At first the crew thought the Britannic had struck a small ship. Today, we know that the ship struck one of the many mines laid in the Kea channel a month earlier by the Germans. Although the explosion was not perceived as significant, it soon became apparent that it had caused enormous damage to the ship. Captain Charles Alfred Bartlett ordered the first emergency protocols which included closing watertight doors and sending distress orders, which were not answered. In just 10 minutes, the Britannic was in much the same condition as the Titanic an hour after hitting the iceberg. It already had more than six flooded compartments, although engineers have been working to keep the ship afloat longer in case something like this happens.

Although it became increasingly clear that the ship was going to sink entirely, Captain Bartlett thought he could still bring the ship ashore, so he only gave the order to prepare the lifeboats but told his crew to keep them on the ship. Ignoring the captain’s orders, the crew launched the boats and nearly the entire crew evacuated the Britannic. After a few minutes, Captain Bartlett realized there was no way to bring the ship ashore; he gave the final signal to abandon ship.


In less than an hour, the Britannic sank completely, becoming the largest ship lost during the First World War. Unlike her older sister, only 30 people passed and the main reason was that they had added enough lifeboats for all the passengers. Moreover, despite the change in temperature, the emergency services were closer; they arrived less than two hours after the incident when it took more than three and a half hours for the RMS Carpathia to reach the Titanic.

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