- On 29/07/2017
- In Famous Wrecks
By Megan Gannon - Live Science
Divers have recovered the main telegraph machine from the Lusitania, the wreck at the center of one of the most infamous maritime disasters of the 20th century.
Irish heritage officials confirmed that the telegraph was recovered and brought to the surface Tuesday (July 25) and is now undergoing conservation on land.
The bronze artifact was "undamaged and in excellent condition," Heather Humphreys, Ireland's minister for culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht (areas where Irish is still spoken), said in a statement.
The Lusitania was the largest ship in the world when it made its maiden voyage in 1907.
The British ship was bound for Liverpool after a transatlantic crossing in 1915, when it was struck by a torpedo from a German submarine off the southeast coast of Ireland during World War I.
It sank in just 18 minutes. Of the 1,962 passengers and crew aboard at the time, 1,198 died, most of them from drowning and hypothermia. The attack on civilians prompted diplomatic outrage (though there is still debate over whether the ship's cargo secretly included war supplies and munitions).
As 128 Americans were killed in the disaster, the event helped push the United States into World War I.
The 787-foot-long (240 meters) shipwreck now lies on its starboard side, at a depth of about 300 feet (91 m) off the coast of County Cork. Retired American venture capitalist Gregg Bemis has been the sole owner of the wreck since 1982 and has occasionally clashed with the Irish government over his plans to explore the wreck and recover artifacts, according to a profile in Fortune.
Bemis is particularly interested in investigating the cause of the second explosion that rocked the Lusitania after the initial torpedo strike, which could help to explain what made the ship sink so quickly.