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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Decade of Centenaries to include Lusitania

Further investigations are to be carried out into the sinking of the Lusitania with a view to developing a fitting commemoration on its forthcoming 100th anniversary. The passenger liner was torpedoed on May 7th 1915 and its sinking had a significant influence on the course of Irish and international history at the time. The huge loss of life was the catalyst for bringing America into WW1.

Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, met yesterday with Gregg Bemis, of Santa Fé, New Mexico, the owner of the wreck of the RMS Lusitania, to discuss Bemis’s plans for future dives on the protected wreck. It appears that a general agreement on the objectives of further research planned by Bemis has been reached.

The Minister is currently reviewing a new licence application from Bemis for a sustained project on the wreck site over the next three years. Under a previous licence granted in 2007, which expired at the end of 2011, Bemis carried out explorations on the wreck with a view to gaining information on the possible cause of a second explosion at the time of its sinking that might have accounted for it going down so quickly.

He was also licensed to recover specific artefacts that might add to his and the State’s understanding of the wreck, as well as the life and times of those on board the vessel when it was lost. In his current licence application, he intends to continue his forensic investigations into the cause of the second explosion, but is also proposing to recover more artefacts with a view to an exhibition being mounted in a suitable museum in time for the centenary of the sinking.