Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Final Voyage of HMHS Britannic

Britannic Sailed Towards Her Destiny 97 Years Ago Today

The RMS Britannic, sister ship to RMS Titanic, was to have been a grand ocean liner.

Instead of setting out on a grand inaugural transatlantic voyage, she underwent serious changes, including a name change to HMHS Britannic.  The grand ship went to war as a hospital ship.
HMHS Britannic, By Soerfm [CC-BY-SA-3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
She made five voyages from Southampton to the Mediterranean theater, bringing back sick and wounded soldiers each time.

On November 12, 1916, she embarked on what was to have been  her sixth round trip.

But fate awaited her, nine days away, before she could pick up another load of soldiers.  There is still some debate as to whether it was a torpedo or a mine that ripped the hole in her side on November 21, 1916,  but it swiftly took her to the bottom.  Of the 1,066 souls aboard, all but 30 were saved.

She was the second of the three Olympic class ships to go down.   It's a shame HMHS Britannic never survived the war.  I'm sure she would have been every bit as much a beloved ocean liner as the sister that did survive. To learn a bit more about these two lesser known ships, click here:  Titanic's Sisters - Britannic and Olympic.

By the way, I noticed today that a new book about Britannic is in the works. It's titled The Unseen Britannic: The Ship in Rare Illustrations.  The mere fact that the author is Simon Mills (a maritime historian with a particular interest in the Olympic class ships) was enough to grab my interest.  You can sign up to be notified when the book becomes available.