SS Tuscania (1914)

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SS Tuscania (1914)
SS Tuscania (1914)
Career Anchor Line
Builder: Alexander Stephen & Sons, Ltd., Linthouse, Govan
Laid down: 1914
Launched: September 1914
Fate: Sunk 5 February 1918
General characteristics
Tonnage: 14,348 gross tons
Length: 567 ft (173 m)
Beam: 66 ft 4 in (20.22 m)
Draught: 45 ft (14 m)
Propulsion: Parsons steam turbines - twin screw [1]
Capacity: 2,500+ passengers
Armament: 4-inch naval gun (fitted October 1916) [2]
For other ships of the same name, see SS Tuscania.

SS Tuscania was a luxury liner of the Cunard subsidiary Anchor Line, named after a town in Italy. She was torpedoed in 1918 by the German U-boat UB-77 while transporting American troops to Europe and sank, sending 210 people to their deaths.[3]

Commercial career[edit]

The Tuscania carried passengers between New York City and Glasgow while in service with the Anchor Line, on a route that had previously been assigned to her sistership Transylvania.[1] She continued to run this route even as World War I broke out in Europe and Germany initiated. She also made at least one run from Bombay to Liverpool. Unrestricted submarine warfare in British territorial waters put neutral ships like the Tuscania at risk of being misidentified and attacked. The Tuscania made international headlines for rescuing passengers and crew from the burning Greek steamer SS Athinai on September 20, 1915,[4] and made the news again in March 1917 by evading a submarine and a suspected German commerce raider.[5]

Final voyage[edit]

On the morning of February 5, 1918, carrying over 2,000 American troops, the Tuscania turned south for the North Channel en route to Liverpool. After an arduous voyage across the North Atlantic, most of those aboard, in sight of the Irish coast to starboard and the Scottish coast to port, surely believed the worst part of their journey was behind them. Spotted by German submarine UB-77 earlier in the day, however, their convoy was stalked until early evening and the cover of darkness. Then, at about 6:40 pm, submarine captain Lt. Cdr. Wilhelm Meyer ordered two torpedoes fired at the Tuscania. The second of these struck home, sending her -- within about four hours -- to the bottom of the Channel.

It was on February 6, 1915, almost exactly three years before the fatal day, that Tuscania had made her maiden voyage as a passenger liner serving the North Atlantic routes between New York and Great Britain. In 1916, though, she had been refitted and pressed into service as a troop carrier, and on her final voyage she had departed Hoboken, New Jersey 12 days earlier with 384 crew members and 2,013 American troops aboard. Approximately 210 of the troops and crew were lost,[3] while many others were rescued by two British destroyers, Mosquito and Pigeon.[6]

Today she lies between Scotland's Islay Isle and Ireland's Rathlin Island, about 7 miles north of Rathlin lighthouse, at roughly 55°24′36″N 6°11′06″W / 55.41°N 06.185°W / 55.41; -06.185 under 100 metres (330 feet) of water.

Notable passengers[edit]

Army units on board[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Tuscania Was Pride of the Anchor Line" New York Times 07 Feb 1918: p. 2
  2. ^ "Tuscania Carried No Civil Passengers" New York Times 07 Feb 1918: p. 2
  3. ^ a b Massie, Robert K. Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea. New York: Ballantine Books, 2004. ISBN 0-345-40878-0
  4. ^ "Greek Liner Burns at Sea, 469 saved" The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 21, 1915: p.2
  5. ^ "Report the Tuscania Dodged a Submarine" The New York Times 22 Mar 1917: p.3
  6. ^ "Troopship Tuscania Oa Peninsula Islay|Loss of Troopship Tuscania". Islayinfo.com. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  7. ^ "Sydney Brooks - Wikisource, the free online library". En.wikisource.org. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  8. ^ "Britain's Heart Now of Granite" The New York Times, January 19, 1916: p.2

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°37′N 6°26′W / 55.617°N 6.433°W / 55.617; -6.433