8.The Lusitania Departed from Chelsea

Photo from Library of Congress

A few years later, Chelsea Piers became tied to another tragic event, the sinking of the Lusitania. On May 1, 1915, the Lusitania departed New York from Chelsea Piers for Liverpool, England. Despite warnings from the Germans that they would sink any ships attempting to pass through to England, Captain William Turner decided to sail anyway, confident that the Germans would not be able to keep up with the ship’s incredible speed.

More than half way into the transatlantic journey, as the Lusitania  approached the south of Ireland, three British merchant vessels were sunk by German U-boats. Even after receiving alerts of active U-boats in the area, Captain Turner slowed down presumably because of a fog warning. On top of basically ignoring all kinds of directives to avoid U-boats, the ship was ultimately doomed.

On May 7th, a German U-boat fired one torpedo. The ship sunk in 18 minutes, killing 1,195 of the 1,959 on board, including 123 Americans. The sinking of the Lusitania sparked outrage in the United States and was the climactic event that prompted the U.S. to enter World War I.