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Lusitania Timeline

1902 First designs submitted for the Lusitania and Mauretania, showing each ship with only three funnels.
July 1903 Under lobbying by Cunard, chairman Lord Inverclyde, the British Government under Prime Minister Balfour authorizes a loan of £2.6 million for the construction of the Lusitania and Mauretania, providing that they meet Admiralty specifications.  This comes under threat of German competition and monopolization of the North Atlantic by American financier J. P. Morgan, who has already bought out Cunard's main British rival, the White Star Line.  The British Government also agrees to pay Cunard an annual subsidy of £150,000 for maintaining both ships in a state of war readiness, plus an additional £68,000 to carry the mail.
16 June 1904 Lusitania's keel laid at John Brown & Clydebank, Yard no. 367.
7 June 1906 Lusitania launched and christened by Mary, Lady Inverclyde.
27 July 1907 Lusitania undergoes preliminary trials off Irish coast.
July - August 1907 Lusitania goes through formal acceptance trials.  Engineers discover that high speed causes violent vibrations in the stern, forcing the stern section to be refitted with stronger bracings.
26 August 1907 Lusitania delivered to Cunard.  At the time she is the largest ship in the world, with a gross tonnage of 31,550.
7 - 13 September 1907 Maiden voyage from Liverpool, England, United Kingdom to New York, NY, United States.
October 1907 Lusitania takes the Blue Riband from the Norddeutscher Lloyd Liner Kaiser Wilhelm II, ending Germany's 10-year streak of having the fastest ships on the Atlantic.  The Lusitania averages 23.99 knots westbound and 23.61 knots eastbound.
November 1907 Lusitania loses the eastbound record to her sister MauretaniaMauretania averages 23.69 knots.
May 1908 Lusitania loses the westbound record to Mauretania.
July 1908 Lusitania regains Blue Riband.
1909 Lusitania makes her fastest westbound crossing, averaging 25.85 knots.
September 1909 Lusitania loses the Blue Riband permanently to Mauretania.Mauretania averages 26.06 knots and will hold the record as fastest ship on the Atlantic for the next 20 years.
28 July 1914 Austria declares war against Serbia, igniting the First World War.
4 August 1914 Britain declares war against Germany after Germany invades Belgium.
August 1914 Lusitania considered for requisition as an auxiliary cruiser, but not taken over because of her size and fuel consumption  She remains on the Liverpool - New York route.
November 1914 For reasons of economy, Lusitania's transatlantic crossings are reduced to one a month.  Boiler room #4 is shut down and maximum speed is reduced to 21 knots.
4 February 1915 Germany declares all waters around Great Britain and Ireland a war zone.  All enemy shipping found there after 18 February will be sunk.  Captain Dow flies the United States flag on the Lusitania as protection against German submarines.
10 February 1915 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson formally protests to London that the use of neutral flags will endanger neutral countries.  He also says he will hold Germany to "strict accountability" for any American lives lost.
Early February 1915 British Admiralty issues orders for British merchant ships to ram German submarines on sight.  Germany discovers these orders by 15 February.
5 - 6 March 1915 HMS Laverlock and Louis attempt to escort Lusitania to Liverpool.  Cunard and Captain Dow, fearing a trap, do not divulge positions.  Dow steams Lusitania into Liverpool without incident.
April 1915 Captain Dow claims sickness and Lusitania is reassigned to Captain Turner.
22 April 1915 Germany issues warning to its embassy in the United States, telling Americans not to sail on British ships or risk being attacked.  Warning is not published in newspapers until 1 May.
30 April 1915 U-20 departs Emden, Germany, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Walther Schwieger.
1 May 1915 Lusitania sails out of New York for the last time.  Sailing delayed by a transfer of passengers from the Cameronia.  A number of prominent passengers receive anonymous telegrams warning them not to sail.
5 May 1915 U-20 sinks 132-ton schooner Earl of Lathom off the coast of Ireland.
6 May 1915 Lusitania sails into the war zone.  Seamen's Charities fund concert takes place in the saloon class lounge that night. U-20 sinks 16 000-ton steamer Candidate.
7 May 1915 U-20 torpedoes and sinks Lusitania off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland.  Lusitania founders in 18 minutes with horrific loss of life.  Fishing boats, tramp steamers, and Admiralty ships take survivors to Kinsale and Queenstown.
8 May 1915 Anti-German riots break out all over the world over the sinking and last for days.
8 - 10 May 1915 Cork County coroner John J. Horgan opens first inquest into the Lusitania disaster.  Admiralty attempts to thwart the inquiry arrive too late to be of any effect.
10 May 1915 Mass funeral held for Lusitania victims outside of Queenstown.
12 May 1915 U-20 breaks radio silence and takes credit for sinking Lusitania.
13 May 1915 British Prime Minister Asquith announces internment of enemy aliens.U-20 ordered to report to Wilhelmshaven instead of the home base of Emden.  First American note sent to Germany.
8 June 1915 U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigns in protest, claiming that the United States is taking a pro-Allied stance in handling the Lusitania affair while claiming neutrality.  Robert Lansing installed as acting Secretary of State.
9 June 1915 Lansing dispatches second American note to Germany, requesting Germany to respect the rights of Americans to travel on belligerent ships of their choice.
15 June - 1 July 1915 Mersey conducts an official Inquiry into the sinking.  Report published on 17 July places blame solely on Germany.
16 January 1917 Zimmerman Telegram sent by Germany to Mexico and decoded by Britain.
31 January 1917 Germany announces that she will resume unrestricted submarine warfare.
24 February 1917 Zimmerman Telegram forwarded to U.S. President Wilson.
25 February 1917 Cunarder Laconia torpedoed by U-50 with a loss of 12 lives, including 2 Americans.
17 March 1917 Three American frieghters, City of Memphis, Vigilancia, and Illinois, are torpedoed with a loss of 24 American lives.
6 April 1917 United States declares war against Germany.
1918 Judge Julius Mayer conducts hearings for civil lawsuits in New York City.  His report is published on 23 August 1918, absolves Captain Turner and the Cunard Company from blame.
11 November 1918 World War I ends.
1919 Germany is forced to surrender the Imperator to Cunard as a replacement for the Lusitania.  The Imperator will become the Berengaria.
1935 A Glasgow-based consortium locates the wreck of the Lusitania with early echo-sounding equipment.  Jim Jarrat, in a heavy diving suit, becomes the first man to dive to the wreck.  He claims that the wreck is lying on her port side,exposing point of torpedo impact.Rumors circulate that the Royal Navy is conducting blasting operations on the Lusitania wreck in order to remove any evidence of munitions in the wreck.
1953 Divers discover that the wreck is actually lying on her starboard side, concealing the point of torpedo impact.
1960s U.S. Navy diver John Light makes 42 dives to the Lusitania wreck and reports that the bow of the wreck had been severed by an internal explosion, a claim refuted by later divers.
1967 Light buys the wreck of the Lusitania from the British War Risks Association.
January 1968 Greg Bemis and partners buy salvage rights from Light.
September - October 1982 Oceaneering International conducts salvage expeditions to the wreck of the Lusitania.  Ireland attempts to claim artifacts as national treasures.  Court rules in favor of Oceaneering International.
1983 Oceaneering International plans to return to the wreck to document the cargo hold, but expedition falls through.
July - August  1993 Dr. Robert D. Ballard mounts an expedition to the Lusitania wreck.  His team discovers that the magazine is undamaged and rules out ammunition as a source of the second explosion.  Ballard hypothesizes that the second explosion was caused by a coal dust explosion.
1994 Gary Gentile dives to the wreck.  His team claims to have found lead containers containing lost paintings transported by Sir Hugh Lane.  Ireland places a Heritage Protection Order on the wreck shortly afterwards.
References: Ballard, Robert D. and Spencer Dunmore.  Exploring the Lusitania and "A Lusitania Chronology" by Eric and Bill Sauder, Warner Books, 1995. Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania. Madison Books, 1956. Kludas, Arnold.  Great Passenger Ships of the World, Volume I:  1858-1912.  Patrick Stephens, Ltd., 1972. Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy. Berkley Books, 2002.

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