The HMHS Britannic was the final liner in the set of 3 Olympic Class Liners built by Harland & Wolff, she was the sister ship to the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic. Construction on the Britannic began in late 1911, after the launch of Olympic and before the launch of Titanic, she was completed and launched in February 1914.
Britannic Design Changes
Changes had to be made to remaining Olympic Class Liners following the Titanic disaster, the Olympic was returned to dry dock at Harland & Wolff for refitting but the Britannic had these changes made before her completion and launch. The main changes included the addition of a second skin along the inside of the hull in the engine and boiler rooms, as well as an increase in the height of the bulkheads up as far as "B" deck. Prior to the Titanic disaster the bulkheads only reached as far as "D" deck and in most cases only as far as "E" deck. New davits were also placed on the ship, these were capable of holding more lifeboats as well as being able to launch boats on both sides of the ship from one side which much faster speed.
Britannic Goes To War
In 1914 the Britannic was launched from the Harland & Wolff shipyard and the process of fitting her out for final completion began. But before the final stages of work on the Britannic could be completed the 1st World War broke out and so work on the ship slowed down, in addition the Olympic was withdrawn from service until the danger of the war had passed.
As the war continued and the casualties rose several passenger liners were taken from public service by the admiralty and used for troop transportation and as floating hospitals. The first of these were the RMS Mauritania and the RMS Aquitania from the Cunard Line. However, the RMS Aquitania was later converted to a hospital ship to cope with the increasing casualties and the RMS Olympic was bought into service and took her place. Finally, in November 1915, the Britannic was taken from her storage location, painted white and green, and converted into a hospital ship. She was named as the HMHS (His Majesty's Hospital Ship) Britannic.
HMHS Britannic Pictures & Photos
The following pictures are various photos of the HMHS Britannic as well as artist impressions. Visit our photo gallery for more Titanic photos and photos of the sister ships.
The Britannic Sinks
After completing several missions transporting injured troops to and from the Mediterranean Sea back to the UK the HMHS Britannic finally met her maker when she hit a mine on November 12th 1916.
As soon as the Captain had assessed the damage he ordered the closure of the now improved watertight bulkhead doors, however one of the doors between boiler room 5 and 6 failed to close properly and this meat that the Britannic had quickly reached the limit at which she could stay a float. Whilst the Britannic should have stayed a float, it's now known that portholes on the lower decks had been left open to allow ventilation into the wards. This allowed water in past the first 5 bulkheads and therefore allowed the flooding to increase past Britannic's tipping point, therefore causing her to sink.
Out of the passengers on board around 30 lost their lives and 1,036 were saved. A good number of the passengers who died were those in 2 of the lifeboats which were drawn into the turning propellers as Britannic's stern rose out of the water.
It look just 55 minutes for the Britannic to sink, several vessels in the vicinity were involved in the rescue of passengers from the lifeboats and from the water.
The Wreck Of Britannic
The Britannic is located just 120 meters down in the Mediterranean sea, she was discovered by the great explorer Jacques Cousteau in 1975. The ship is laid on her side in once piece with one funnel located just a few meters away and the other three located just a short distance away in the debris field. The bow of the ship significantly deformed where she would have hit the ocean floor before being fully submerged, since Britannic was over 880 feet long and only submerged into 400 feet of water.
The wreck was made available for sale and bought by Simon Mills ain 1996.