SS Tuscania (1914)

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SS Tuscania (1914)
SS Tuscania
United Kingdom
Owner: Anchor Line
Builder: Alexander Stephen & Sons, Ltd., Linthouse, Govan
Laid down: 1914
Launched: 4 September 1914[1]
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)
Installed power: 6 × Scotch boilers[1]
Propulsion: Parsons steam turbines - twin screw[2]
Capacity: 2,500+ passengers
Armament: 4-inch naval gun (fitted October 1916)[3]
Notes: Transylvania and Tuscania were the first installations of geared turbines in large Trans-Atlantic vessels.[1]

SS Tuscania was a luxury liner of the Cunard Line subsidiary Anchor Line, named after Tuscania, Italy. In 1918 the ship was torpedoed and sunk by the German U-boat UB-77 while transporting American troops to Europe with the loss of 210 lives.[4]


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 sister ship Transylvania.[2] On its first trip to Glasgow, Tuscania was captained by David Bone, who was also a popular novelist of maritime adventures [5] based on his life experiences. She continued to run this route even as World War I broke out in Europe in August 1914 and Germany initiated a submarine campaign against merchant shipping in waters near the United Kingdom.

Tuscania made international headlines for rescuing passengers and crew from the burning Greek steamer SS Athinai on 20 September 1915.[6] In 1916, Tuscania was refitted and pressed into service as a troopship. She made the news again in March 1917 by evading a submarine and a suspected Imperial German Navy armed merchant cruiser.[7]

Final voyage[edit]

On 24 January 1918, Tuscania departed Hoboken, New Jersey, with 384 crew members and 2,013 United States Army personnel aboard. On the morning of 5 February 1918, she turned south for the North Channel en route Liverpool. The German submarine UB-77 sighted Tuscania′s convoy during the day, and stalked it until early evening. Under the cover of darkness around 6:40 pm, the submarine′s commanding officer, Korvettenkapitän Wilhelm Meyer, ordered two torpedoes fired at Tuscania. The second of these struck home, sending her to the bottom of the Irish Sea within about four hours. Tuscania sank nearly three years to the day after her maiden voyage as a passenger liner. About 210 of the troops and crew were lost,[4] while many others were rescued by the Royal Navy destroyers Mosquito and Pigeon.[8] Some of the U.S. Troops were rescued by an Irish fishing boat as well.

The wreck of Tuscania lies between Scotland's Islay and Northern Ireland′s Rathlin Island, about 7 nautical miles (13 km) 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 m (330 ft) of water.

Many of the bodies of the drowned servicemen washed up on the shores of Islay and were buried there. After the First World War, many were reinterred in Brookwood Military Cemetery or repatriated to the United States. Just one grave is left on the island today. In 1919, the American government unveiled a memorial to the dead on the southernmost tip of the island.[9]

Notable passengers[edit]

Army units on board[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Launches and Trial Trips". International Marine Engineering. Marine Engineering, Inc., New York—London. 37 (October): 87. 1914. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Tuscania Was Pride of the Anchor Line" New York Times 7 February 1918: p. 2
  3. ^ "Tuscania Carried No Civil Passengers" New York Times 7 February 1918: p. 2
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ "The Nautical Gazette". 1922.
  6. ^ "Greek Liner Burns at Sea, 469 saved," The Philadelphia Inquirer, 21 September 1915, p. 2.
  7. ^ "Report the Tuscania Dodged a Submarine", The New York Times, 22 March 1917, p.3
  8. ^ "Troopship Tuscania Oa Peninsula Islay|Loss of Troopship Tuscania". Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Service marks sinking of SS Tuscania". BBC News. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  10. ^ Wikisource:Author:Sydney Brooks
  11. ^ "Britain's Heart Now of Granite" The New York Times, 19 January 1916: p.2

External links[edit]

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