‘Black box’ recovered from Lusitania to unveil secrets of its sinking

The sinking Lusitania

Articles just recovered from the wreck of the Lusitania may reveal the final moments of the ship torpedoed and sunk off the Cork coast in 1915.

Divers have brought instruments back from the ship which experts hope will solve what really happened in the final dramatic moments of the ocean liner.

A bronze telemotor and a telegraph instrument were among the artifacts recovered in recent days by a dive team assembled by the National Geographic magazine as part of a television documentary on the sinking which cost 1,198 passengers and crew their lives.

Tralee archaeologist Laurence Dunne is to examine the instruments recovered as experts look for answers as to what really caused the super ship to sink so quickly during the First World War.

The telemotor and the telegraph instruments are regarded as the equivalent of black box technology for the Lusitania.

Chief diver Eoin McGarry said: “We recovered some significant objects from the bridge area of the deck, including a telemotor and also a telegraph which would indicate the last state of the engines in the last minutes of the sinking.

“The items belong to Greg Bemis and he has said that he will probably donate them to Irish museums. They are in very good condition as they are non-ferrous metals, despite spending 96 years under water.”
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Multi-millionaire American businessman Bemis has assembled a team of experts, led by Dunne, to assess the articles recovered.

The hull of the Lusitania is currently almost 100m (330ft) below the surface of the Atlantic, off the County Cork coast and some 18 kilometers from the Old Head of Kinsale.

The Lusitania sank in 1915 after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat resulting in the loss of 1,198 of the 1,959 passengers.

“There may actually have been 1,200 deaths, as there were three German stowaways,” said archaeologist Dunne who added that the ship had sunk in 18 minutes.

Dunne told the Irish Times that he believes the telemotor and telegraph will help establish some of the facts surrounding the ship’s loss as the telegraph’s needle will show the direction in which the ship was heading after the last command was issued.