Out of the three famed Olympic Class ocean liners by the White Star Line, only one escaped the fate of plunging into the depths of the ocean. RMS Olympic enjoyed a long & reliable career that lasted nearly 25 years before being scrapped in 1935. Had the full extent of the Olympic class’s legacy been taken into full account, it’s doubtful that the Olympic would have seen the scrap yard at all. Construction on RMS Britannic was still being finalized when her sister ship, RMS Titanic tragically struck an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage in 1912. In fact, several design changes were put into effect after Titanic’s demise. Such changes included the introduction of a double hull & extending the watertight bulkheads all the way up to B deck. The designers also made sure that Britannic could efficiently hold enough lifeboats unlike her sister ship had. However, these changes would not prevent Brittanic from escaping a similar fate to that of her famous sister ship. But Britannic’s sinking would come at the expense of a whole lot less lives.
Like many other ships of her time, Britannic’s status as a liner was changed shortly after her completion to serve a role in the oncoming first World War. Instead of “Royal Mail Ship” aka “RMS”, Britannic was given the title, “HMHS”, meaning “Her Majesty’s Hospital Ship”. By November of 1916, Brittanic had completed 5 voyages, successfully transporting british troops from the Middle Eastern War Theatre. On her 6th voyage, Brittanic struck what was likely an enemy torpedo or mine. In only the matter of 10 minutes, Britannic had taken on the amount of water that Titanic had over the course of an entire hour. After only 55 minutes, Brittanic was completely underwater and became the largest ship sunk during World War I.
Famed explorer Jacques Cousteau first discovered the location of Britannic’s wreck in 1975. The wreck was found in remarkably good condition, lying on her starboard side. Unlike Titanic, Britannic lies in shallower water, 400 feet to be exact. This means that Britannic can be visited by skilled scuba divers. Easier access to the wreck site has lead to easier investigation as to exactly how Britannic sank. Some pretty fascinating footage of diving can be found here: