The HMS (His Majesty's Hospital Ship) Britannic
, sister ship of the Titanic
, was launched by White Star Lines on Feb. 26, 1914. After the Titanic
disaster in 1912 the plans for the slightly larger Britannic
involved major upgrades to the safety systems.
was to be set for service between Southampton, England, and New York beginning in 1915. The outbreak of World War I
changed things. On Nov. 13, 1915, she was drafted for war duty and officially completed as a hospital ship. On just her sixth voyage on Nov. 21, 1916, she was in the Kea Channel in the Aegean Sea when a tremendous explosion ripped open her forward bow. She sank in just 55 minutes but only 30 people died from the more than 1,100 on board. Theories surrounding the cause of the mysterious explosion include hitting a mine, a torpedo impact and an explosion from within resulting from ignition of coal dust in the reserve bunker.