About the Britannic

The History of HMHS Britannic

Of the White Star Line’s Olympic trio of ocean liners, the RMS Titanic may be the more infamous, but her sister-ship, the HMHS Britannic, holds a rich history.

The HMHS Britannic was launched in 1914 and was originally designed to be the grandest ocean liner ever built, even surpassing her sisters, the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic.

The third and final ship to be built in the Olympic class, she was the largest of the fleet and, following lessons learned from the sinking of the Titanic, she was also designed to be the safest.

She was launched in February 1914, only months before the First World War began.

While large liners were not initially considered for military service, as naval operations extended to the Mediterranean the need for their increased tonnage grew.

In May 1915, the Britannic completed mooring trials of her engines and was prepared for emergency entrance into service, and November 1915 saw her requisitioned as a hospital ship.

Britannic undertook the transportation of sick and injured soldiers from the island of Lemnos on the Aegean Sea, spending four weeks as a floating hospital off the Isle of Wight before returning to the transportation of the injured through the Mediterranean.

At the end of this military service in June 1916, she returned to Belfast.

The British government paid the White Star Line £76,000 to facilitate her return to intended form as a passenger liner.
This fitting was curtailed when she was recalled to service as a hospital ship in the Mediterranean in August 1916.

On the morning of 21 November 1916, with 1,065 people on board, she was struck by a naval mine near the Greek island of Kea and foundered 55 minutes later, killing 30 people.

Interestingly, one of the survivors was the Irish-Argentinian nurse Violet Jessop, who was on board the RMS Titanic when it sank, and on the RMS Olympic when it had a collision outside Southampton with the HMS Hawke in September 1911.

The wreck of the Britannic was located in 1975 by Jacques-Yves Cousteau and is the largest passenger ship on the sea floor today.

In 1996 the wreck was bought by the author of Exploring the Britannic, Simon Mills, while the White Star line is currently owned by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

A curious note on the White Star legacy, John Pierpont Morgan himself was supposed to accompany Titanic on her maiden voyage but took ill and did not travel on that fateful journey. He died shortly after the Titanic disaster in 1913.

Enquiry Form

Collection & Use of Personal Information

By submitting your data, you are providing us with some level of personal information. This information is not stored on our website database. However, in order to respond to your enquiry, your data is emailed to our website’s email address where it is saved. Additionally, we may use your contact details to send you marketing material in the future. You may unsubscribe from any emails you receive following our first reply. We do not pass your data on to any third parties.