HMHS Britannic: the sleeping giant

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HMHS Britannic. The third and largest Olympic-class ocean liner of the White Star Line still puzzles the explorers and lures for underwater visit. She is one of three sister ships (together with RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic), built as the transatlantic passenger liner. But the First World War broke out, changing her destiny. In 1915 Britannic was transferred into a hospital ship…

Unfortunately, Britannic”s lifespan happened to be way too short. In just about a year after a launch (on 21 November, 1916) she was lost by an underwater mine, failing the attempt to pass the Kea Channel. The ship sank in just 55 minutes, leaving one of the biggest mysteries in maritime history. How could such a giant, additionally reinforced after the loss of the Titanic, go down in less than an hour?.. Britannic was the biggest ship lost in the First World War. Fortunately, out of 1,066 people on board, 1,036 survived the shipwreck.

She was found almost 70 years later. Jacques Cousteau team stumble upon the wreck in casino online 1975. A year later famous explorer mouthed his ideas on the ship”s uneasy story. According to the damage discoverers saw under the waves, the Britannic had been sunk by a torpedo.

The consequences of the explosion, partially destroying the keel, can be easily pointed out. Today the huge liner lies on the starboard side, and it”s not hard to notice a huge hole beneath the forward well deck. The bow is still connected to the hull just by a couple of pieces of the B-deck, but is seriously damaged. At the same time, the crew”s quarters in the forecastle seem to remain in a pretty good condition.

After the Britannic had sunk, time treated the ship decently, and a lot of her parts are still well preserved. In general, the wreck is in outstanding condition. She lies in shallow enough waters for professional divers to pay a visit. What”s important, is that the wreck is listed as a British war grave. This fact makes it necessary for every expedition to seek the approval of both the British and Greek governments.

In 1995, Dr. Robert Ballard, who is famous for discovering the wrecks of RMS Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck, immersed to see the wreck, bringing hi-tech side-scan sonar. He also managed to find all the ship”s funnels, broken off during the catastrophe. They were in a good condition as well, and a lot of divers mention the excitement they experienced while approaching those colossuses.

A year later the wreck of HMHS Britannic became available for sale. The ship was bought by maritime historian Simon Mills (we had a great pleasure to talk to him about this purchase). He marks, that Britannic now gets more interest than it used to be two decades ago. And it is definitely not the end of Britannic”s story. U-Boat Navigator team is going to get back to the wreck as well, bringing angles for the viewers, and contributing to the horizons for the underwater research.

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