Lusitania Departs NY for Liverpool

What is involved in the preparation?

The process of readying the Lusitania for its May 1 departure was complex, detailed, and messy:

"Anyone looking up from the dock saw only beauty, on a monumental scale, while on the far side of the ship men turned black with dust as they shoveled coal -- 5,690 tons in all -- into the ship through openings in the hull called 'side pockets.'  The ship burned coal at all times.  Even when docked it consumed 140 tons a day to keep the furnaces hot and boilers primed and to provide electricity from the ship's dynamo to power lights, elevators, and, very important, the Marconi transmitter, whose antenna stretched between its two masts.  When the Lusitania was under way, its appetite for coal was enormous.  Its 300 stokers, trimmers, and firemen, working 100 per shift, would shovel 1,000 tons of coal a day into its 192 furnaces to heat its 25 boilers and generate enough superheated steam to spin the immense turbines of its engines. The men were called 'the black gang,' a reference not to their race but to the coal dust that coated their bodies.  The Boilers occupied the bottom deck of the ship and were gigantic, like wheelless locomotives, each 22 feet long and 18 feet in diameter.  They needed close attention at all times, for when fully pressurized each stored enough explosive energy to tear a small ship in half.  Fifty years earlier, exploding boilers had caused America's worst-ever maritime disaster -- the destruction of the Mississippi River steamboat Sultana at a cost of 1,800 lives."

"The morning of departure, Captain Turner would make a detailed inspection of the ship, accompanied by his purser and chief steward.  All preparations for the voyage had to be completed by then, rooms cleaned, beds made, all stores -- gin, Scotch, cigars, peas, mutton, beef, ham -- loaded aboard, water tested for freshness and clarity.  Special attention was always to be paid to lavatories and bilges, and to maintaining proper levels of ventilation, lest the liner started to stink.  The goal, in official Cunard parlance, was 'to keep the ship sweet.'"

Created by Anne Curran on Aug 31st, 2018 @ 12:29 PM.
Updated on Aug 31st, 2018 @ 3:38 PM.