Why Was The Wreck Used For Depth Charge Practice?


Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>There seems to be enough inconclusive evidence to point a bloodhound in the direction of some kind of official policy.<<

There is no evidence at all to this effect.

>> WW1 British politics were hardly innocent.<<

Politics seldom ever is. What's your point.

>> I doubt "Lusitania" was chosen as a sitting duck, but some ship or even a near miss from U-Boats would have enraged America at that point.<<

Two points:
1) America was outraged. Very loudly so.
2) America did not stay outraged. Two more years would pass before the Zimmerman Telegram came up as the causes belli to enter the war.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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>>There seems to be enough inconclusive evidence to point a bloodhound in the direction of some kind of official policy.<<

There is no evidence at all to this effect.

>> WW1 British politics were hardly innocent.<<

Politics seldom ever is. What's your point.

>> I doubt "Lusitania" was chosen as a sitting duck, but some ship or even a near miss from U-Boats would have enraged America at that point.<<

Two points:
1) America was outraged. Very loudly so.
2) America did not stay outraged. Two more years would pass before the Zimmerman Telegram came up as the causes belli to enter the war.
I agree. Its tragic was happened to the Lusitania but to the germans she was a legitimate target. That can be argued of course. But they did take out ads in the american newspapers telling people that they( the liners) were targets and travel at your own risk or stay off them.
 
Dec 23, 2017
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I would recommend listening to interviews that Erik Larson gave in 2015 in talking about dead wake, they help explain some of this in nice detail
Here is a good one
 
Nov 14, 2005
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I will watch that tonight...don't have an hour plus right now to watch. Have you read that book? If so worth reading? Thanks for the link.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Ok thanks. I just ordered the book. Amazon had the hardback for sale at the same price as the soft cover. From your recomendation and the reviews I read it should be an interesting read.
 

Rob Lawes

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Jun 13, 2012
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Having looked into this a bit, it would seem that the 'depth charges' found among the wreck site are infact Hedgehog Anti Submarine Morter Rounds. This changes the story a bit and should help to dispel the conspiracy theories abound.

The Hedgehog Anti Submarine Weapon wasn't developed until 1941. It's purpose was to throw a pattern of morter bombs ahead of a ship so that an the enemy submarine could be engaged without affecting the performance of the attacking ships sonar. The sonar types in use during the second world war used an operator listening for the acousting 'ping' to return from any underwater contacts. At close range the ping would return so quickly that range and direction would be almost impossible to determine. Submarines within this range would out manouver attacks and reduce the effectiveness of the deapth charges. Also, depth charge attacks required the attacking ship to work out the depth of the submarine, required the attacking ship to run over it's target before dropping a pattern and until the water settled after detination would almost always causes the loss of sonar contact allowing the submarine a chance to get away. With the hedgehog, the attacking ship could almost creep up on the target, maintaining sonar contact the whole time and it didn't matter what depth the submarine was at because the hedgehog morter exploded on contact.

This brings us to the wreck itself. The hedgehog, as I said above, was developed in 1941 but didn't see wide spread use until 1942. Initial performace of the new weapon was found to be about the same as that of depth charge attacks. As a result of this, a widespread training programme was initiated n 1943 which saw a huge increase in the effective use of the weapon against U-Boats. There were two types of round used with he system. The High Explosive round for operatioal use and the practice round for training use. I believe, and this is just my speculation now, that the wreck of the Lusitania was used by ships for training for the exact reason Michael gave, it provided a strong sonar contact at a known location and depth which would have been ideal for putting crews through their paces. Given the cost, and use of high expoives, which would have been needed for use against the enemy, ships would have used practice rounds for training which would have contained the charge for launching the morter and possibley a small charge in the fused nose to signal a weapon had made contact with the target but NOT the full ammount of high explosives. Given that the front end of the morter contained a contact detonator the operational HE version of the morter would detonate on hitting something solid. If ships were using the practice version then this would explain why there are so many 'unexploded' rounds around the Lusitania because they were practice rounds they were never designed to explode. Had the RN really fired patterns of 24 Hedgehog rounds at the Lusitania, each containing 34 pounds of Torpex, the wreck would be devistated and very obviously so.
 
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Dec 23, 2017
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Thanks for all the great info! Looks like this mystery if finally solved. Such a shame the Lusitania was down scaled for wepon testing. I wonder what the wreck would have looked like if she was left undisturbed?
 
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Aaron_2016

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Perhaps it would look similar to the Britannic wreck resting on her side? We should be grateful the Britannic was not used for target practice as well. Imagine if the Titanic was!


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Dec 23, 2017
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Possibly, though the area around the Old Head of kinsale has a big reputation of bad winter tides so my bet is that she would not be like the Britannic in that sense, though she would be better of than she is. We also have to remember that she broke her back when she hit the bottom
Wreck-Map.jpg
 

Rob Lawes

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Jun 13, 2012
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At the depth the Titanic sits at, no weapon could reach that far.

It could have been worse for Lusitania, there was a time when ships carried nuclear depth charges. Now they made a bit of a bang.
 
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Aaron_2016

Guest
There were plans to blow up the wreck and salvage her treasure throughout the 1920's and 1930's. Would it have been possible to achieve this?

Found many articles about it. Here are a few. Does the wreck show any signs of nitro-glycerine detonation?


Lusitanianews1b.png


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Dec 23, 2017
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In all of my research iv never heard of that kind of damage, my guess the Hedgehogs is what destroyed any remains of the super structure